Wines of Character and Place

Travelling through the remote, mountainous region of Corbières in Southern France, you might not expect to find thriving agriculture. However, a landscape that Decanter magazine calls “wild and resplendent” with a “rugged beauty that assails you” is actually an ideal place for grapevines, one of the only plants to prosper in the nutrient-poor and stony soils of this windswept and challenging region.

Situated within the much larger region of Languedoc-Roussillon, Corbières is home to many small, family-owned estates producing very high-quality wines. Stretching from the ancient, walled city of Carcassonne to the foothills of the Pyrenees, it is an appellation of steep slopes and deep valleys with a wide range of shale, sandstone, limestone and marl soils. Vines are cultivated at more than 400m above sea level under a brilliant Mediterranean sun through long, dry summers and in the constant flow of the Tramontane winds from the north and the Autan from the south. In these unique conditions, the small, family-run winery of Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie farms their rocky, limestone-terraced vineyards organically and makes wines with very little intervention, producing concentrated and complex wines, surprisingly fresh and true to both varietal and regional character.

The winery’s focus is on Corbières red grapes Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, co-fermented to extract and harmonize complex flavours and aged entirely in neutral tanks. The resulting wine is unadorned, concentrated and elegant with great structure and aging potential. The entire region of Corbières only produces a tiny amount of white wine and Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie contributes a blend of Roussanne, Macabeu, Bourboulenc and Clairette to the region’s small offering. Dry and ample with tree fruit, mineral and fresh herbs, the wine shows great depth and complexity due to co-fermentation and aging on fine lees.

From a place of such dramatic natural beauty come wines of character that tell the story of their remarkable origins.

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie 2019 ‘Pas Des Louves’ Corbières Blanc
Retail: $19.95 / btl

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie 2019 Corbières
Retail: $23.95 / btl

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The Wines

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie 2019 ‘Pas Des Louves’ Corbières Blanc

A wine of complexity and texture, dry with restrained citrus and tree fruit and a compelling minerality married to a fresh herbal bouquet that instantly reminds one of the varied herbal vegetation that grows on the estate.

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie 2019 Corbières

This is a wine with enormous character often showing a rustic, somewhat “animal” aspect married to a vivacious wild berry symphony of aromas. On the palate, dark fruit, with layers of violet, leather, spice and great structure.

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About Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie

The semi-coastal region of Corbières is located west of Provence, expanding inland from the western side of the French Riviera in the Languedoc (continue to follow the coast west, and you’ll end up in Spain). The climate here is Mediterranean, but the vineyards benefit from cooler night-time temperatures thanks to their elevation. While the Languedoc is known for volume production (it pumps out the highest volumes of wine in all France), sub-appellations such as Corbières are delineated for their quality. At just 60 km wide, this appellation boasts many small, family-owned estates that fall under the radar because of the larger region they occupy, and they often produce wines of stunning value.Located at the end of a single-track road, just outside of the small village of Douzens (12km from the ancient walled city of Carcassonne) you will discover Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie. This is about as artisanal as it gets. A small 14ha estate with an east/west exposure on the foothills of Mont Alaric is tended to by the Gibert family and in particular their son, Jean-Baptiste.

This is an historic site. Remains of a Roman winery have been found, proof of the many centuries of winegrowing here. The current domain was founded during the reign of Louis XIV – King of France from 1643-1715 – by a military officer returning from the Indian subcontinent. It has been in Jean-Baptiste’s family for over 140 years.

The domaine enjoys an extremely dry climate, perfect for classic varieties such as Syrah, Grenache Noir and Cinsault for the reds; and Roussanne, Macabeu, Bourboulenc and Clairette for the single white wine produced from a single hectare of vineyard. The ‘Tramontane’ wind from the north-west over Mont Alaric, and the southerly ‘Autan’ breezes from the nearby Mediterranean, are ever-present influences.

These harsh conditions and a terroir composed of inhospitable, rocky limestone terraces, result in yields which are naturally low, with annual production averaging around 60,000 bottles. The main wine, Corbières rouge, is a blend of the three red grapes, partially destemmed before going into the fermentation tanks. The different cépages are fermented together, aged entirely in tank without exposure to barrel aging – producing a wine with rustic character and great ageability. The estate is certified organic (although not for Canada).

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Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie is represented in Ontario by The Vine Agency.

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