May 21st, 2014

Taming of the « Plant of Saint Gilles »

Did you know that in France Mourvèdre used to also go by the name of the “Plant of Saint Gilles”? Check out this extract from the Pacific Rural Press in 1881 !


In fact, Mourvèdre used to be a principal varietal of our region’s vineyards, especially around the abbey of Saint Gilles, where the monks had the patience to work this late ripening varietal. After the ravages of phylloxera, Mourvèdre wasn’t the first choice when growers replanted the vineyards.

Cordon Simple Mourvèdre 2

Indeed this varietal, that in France we say “must gaze upon the sea” to flourish, requires special attention to reach its full potential. I really appreciate the freshness, color and graceful structure that characterize its wines. That is why I’ve been replanting this varietal which has almost disappeared. But how to tame the “Plant of Saint Gilles” whose yields are naturally capricious?

Firstly, in Costières de Nîmes we are fortunate to have temperate sea breezes that ensure a warm back-season that is conducive to this late ripening grape. This long maturation cycle means that the vine has to have access to sufficient water – so I privileged high density planting in terroirs with significant amounts of clay and limestone.

Cordon Simple Mourvèdre

Secondly, in training the vine I opted for a single cordon. Along with high density, this method allows you to manage the vigor of young Mourvèdre. It also has the advantage of optimizing the leaf surface. Indeed, think of leaves as solar panels.  They capture the energy needed throughout the growing cycle of the vine.

Finally, in order to regulate water intake and capture nitrogen from the air, we planted sainfoin in between the rows (remember my previous article). Thus, nothing is added, leaving this Mourvèdre to freely express its terroir. To learn more about our young Mourvèdres, check out our recent video.

Mourvèdre & Sainfoin

Indeed, a terroir expression is what Lou Coucardié, a blend with a majority of Mourvèdre, is all about. This variety also brings a nice freshness, notes of blue fruit and touches of lavender, thyme and rosemary to Nostre Païs as well as to Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes.  What to serve with a Mourvèdre-based wine?  A grilled leg of lamb, beef carpaccio or a T-bone steak feel right at home with these wines.


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