- Vineyard Area: 60 ha
- Soil Type: Clay and limestone
- Varieties Cultivated: Old-vine Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Country: France
- Winemaker: José Ratero
In 2001 longtime friends Hervé Gantier and Burgundian vigneron José Ratero teamed up to purchase Domaine Sainte Eugénie in the village of Bizanet in the heart of the Corbières appellation. Since the early 1990s they had shared a dream of making wine in the south of France, so when they found Sainte Eugénie, with its ancient cellars and old-vine native varieties, they identified the ideal spot for realizing it. The domaine was first established in 1906 and is situated in between Narbonne and Carcassonne in the Languedoc, in the celebrated Fontfroide district of Corbières, perfect for creating wines of finesse and elegance. The domaine consists of 60 hectares, 45 hectares of which are planted to Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, with small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that are blended into their Vin de Pays de Hauterive “Le Clos.” Hervé directs the domaine, and José is in charge of viticulture and winemaking.
Corbières earned its appellation in 1985, yet its terroir has been recognized for excellence since the Greeks first planted vineyards here in the 8th century BC. The clay and limestone terroirs of Fontfroide enjoy predominantly southern exposure—ideal for achieving full maturation of the grapes. They distinguish themselves by rich subterranean aquifers, which supply the vines with the water they need to stave off the dry heat. Coupled with breezes from the Mediterranean, south-blowing winds from the Cevennes Mountains work to cool the grapes and help them retain their vibrancy. The vineyard team farms sustainably, plows regularly and works to keep yields low at an average of 45 hectoliters per hectare for the AOC Corbières and 60 hl/ha for the Vin de Pays. The vineyards at Domaine Sainte-Eugénie range between 30 and 50 years of age, including more than 60-year-old Carignan, which is used for their “Réserve” cuvée. Under their care, the terroir produces rich, deep, and structured fruit with superb finesse and freshness.
The cellar team ferments the grapes with selected regional indigenous yeasts and uses prolonged macerations to best express the goût de terroir. The grapes are harvested by hand and upon arriving at the winery, are entirely de-stemmed. Each varietal and parcel is vinified separately on indigenous yeasts and is later blended to offer distinct character to a given cuvée. The Corbières Rouge, the Corbières “Gardioles,” the Corbières “La Réserve” and the Vin de Pays de Hauterive “Le Clos” all macerate for a minimum of 20 days. After fermentation, each varietal is aged separately for nine months, after which they are blended. The reds age for two full years before bottling, allowing the wines to fully mature and enjoy upon release. The juice for their AOC Corbières Rosé is obtained by saignée, undergoes malolactic fermentation, and is bottled six months after the harvest.