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Born and bred as a winemaker, Jean-François creates beautiful wines of high quality.
"Good wine is only created from hard work and a thorough care constantly brought to the vineyard."
The property stretches over 90 hectares, 45 of which are Minervois appellation.
The soil is split into two areas : the fresh land and the arid land.
The fresh land, north, is for the whites. They are grown on wet clayish soils thanks to a natural supply of water. The clay lies on banks of sandstone. Water is also retained by the sandstone in the upper layers of the subsoil. This alchemy protects the vineyard from drought and ensures very good acidities whatever the vintage. Old Maccabeu, white Grenache , Marsanne, Sauvignon and Chardonnay are suited best for these soils.
The arid lands, south, are for the reds. They are covered with large and small gravel stones hence the name of the property (La Grave). These lands are light and aerated. The stones shield the sun as well as they hold the evaporation. This is an ideal location for the reds, including the Mourvedre despite we are close to the limit of where it can climatically grow. The earth is hard to work as it is abrasive and wears easily our tools. As like most areas of the Minervois the subsoil is various. In one single vineyard, there are a variety of different soils.
For more information feel free to visit the internet site of Château La Grave at www.chateau-la-grave.ne



Jean-François Orosquette
Jean-François Orosquette

The ideal wine comes from everything we thought about while watching the grapes ripening on the vines

Wine ! Its been a family matter for so long...

When do we become a winemaker ? The day we start making wine or...., maybe from growing up within the vineyards and the cellar, and following each harvest?

From the moment we learn to walk we are carrying the hoses, removing the trims, and washing the cellar etc, and while we are learning how to write, we mark the name of the varieties on the vats with chalk. We develop our senses with the smells and tastes of the aromatic wines, and we learn how to make decisions and to give our opinion during our maturity. Time moves on and we build up a knowledge of where ideas and results have been opposed many times. Each season is different and yet similar, hence the importance to keep the traditional experience, and absorb it and follow up on solid basis while adapting new methods and techniques to the laws of the earth.



The terroir of La Grave

The property stretches over 90 hectares, 45 of which are Minervois appellation..
The soil is split into two areas : the fresh land and the arid land.

The Fresh Lands.
To the north : the land for the whites. They are made from wet clay thanks to a natural supply of water. The clay lies on banks of sandstone. Water is also retained by the sandstone in the upper layers of the subsoil. This alchemy protects the vineyard from drought and ensures very good acidities whatever the vintage. Old Maccabeu, white Grenache , Marsanne, Sauvignon and Chardonnay are suited best for these soils..

The Dry Lands
The arid lands. To the south : for the reds. They are covered with large and small gravel stones hence the name of the property (La Grave). These lands are light and aerated. The stones shield the sun as well as they hold the evaporation. This is an ideal location for the reds, including the Mourvedre despite we are close to the limit of where it can climatically grow. The earth is hard to work. It is abrasive and it wears easily our tools. As like throughout the Minervois, the subsoil is various. To the scale of one vineyard, one may find all the different soils existing in the Minervois.

It is the essence of the Minervois to show micro-terroirs within small areas. The gravel stones remain on the surface and underneath are of much smaller gravel mixed with clayish-calcareous soils. These soils are dominant, and sandstone and marl also exist in some places.



Agriculture Raisonnée

Agriculture Raisonnée : integrated farm management

The agriculture raisonnee is the rule of the property.
It was common sense before it became a philosophy.

All the AOP varieties are trimmed according to the cordon de royat shape, with the exception to the Carignan where the gobelet shape is used. The simple Guyot (6-8 buds) is used for the white and red vins de pays. It suits our varieties. The gravel soils are sensitive to drought. We worked the soil by breaking apart the blocks of earth in winter. In summer, we aerate the soil by tearing the weeds off with the plough, the scrape and all other traditional tools. The choice of old traditional tools are chosen to mimic the past but because they are really the most efficient for these lands.

The agriculture raisonnee is the rule of the property. It was common sense before it became a philosophy. The man who lives on his land and breathes it every day, can feel the life in it. An occurrence (eg bugs, insects and or a climatic event) that may damage a plant or a number of plants of a vineyard is treated with the objective of protecting the balance of the entire vineyard. This philosophy has been practiced even before pollution concerns, and answers to our economic requirements. Nowadays there are deep studies analysing the side effects of treatment products. Some of our treatments are unavoidably made with certified products in very small quantities. In addition, it would be a shame to load ourselves with products which are not well adapted to our place, where diseases are rare. Our main enemy is the grape-worm. Mildiou and Oidium are not common. Trellising and thinning out of the leaves curb the risks. It happens on an average of around once every ten years that humidity builds up as to bring disease. But in that case, due to the minimal usage of treatment products, small amounts cure the plants easily.



Our Minervois wine plants

Our Minervois wine plants

Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Maccabeu

The Carignan is very old. It was born in the region and is now a grand-father : it can adapt to any excess from the Languedocian climate. Its limited yield and its complexity due to old age have made it one of the basis of the red blends of AOC Minervois.

Syrah : It is a great choice for Château La Grave as it adapts well to the gravel soil. It ripens early, its extensive foliage protects it from the drought. Therefore it is seldom that we encounter trouble with this variety (the risks of bad weather generally occur after we harvested it). It produces also excellent rosé - with the bleeding technique of removing juice from the vat of the red wine, which stand out for their fruit and their fineness. Together with the Grenache, Shiraz constitutes one third of the red varieties.

Grenache : We can now plant them safely : 25 years ago it was a wine makers gamble to use it however improvements made to the perspective of this variety have lessened greatly the risks of usage. It is an indigenous variety which gives the Minervois character. It makes up one third of the red varieties

Mourvèdre : Two beautiful plots were selected to plant Mourvedre 25 years ago. They contain warm and poor soils. They are well orientated. Despite that the Mourvedre is a variety that is very hard to look after they have now reached a good potential. They are able to give the high quality we expect every year. The first good vintage was when the plant stabilised its yield to 35hl/ha. This variety is comparable to the Grenache. Both have late ripening and don't give any interesting result under 13°. Both like sun, heat and maturity. Age consistently improves it. It is too concentrated for making rosé wines.

The Whites
Château La Grave is also known for being a good land for white wines. In contrast with the warm and arid zones of the red varieties, the soils for the whites are located in cold areas. They are hardly more acid than the average but this slight gap makes all the difference. They cover 15 % of the all property whereas they make 2% of the whole white varieties of the region.

Maccabeu Our main white grape variety is The Maccabeu. I t is extremely well adapted to the soil. The vineyards are older than 70 years old, which ensures a regular quality every year. Each vintage has its own character and yet produces a regular high quality in that we use it for our top range wines : The "Privilège". And for The Expression range it gives a solid structure.


The oldest vines make the Privilege : a full and rich wine with fruit aromas. Blended to the white Grenache, it gives an harmony of citrus and flowers. The other Macabeu vineyards, slightly younger, are used in the "Privilège" for their balance of simplicity, purity and complexity. The blends with the white Grenache and the Vermentino add vivacity and freshness to make a wine elegant and neat. We could call the Macabeu the white Mourvedre for it requires a work which gets revealed only years later. 15 years are necessary before it starts blooming, whereas the Vermentino and Grenache only need 5 years. One must deserve this variety, cultivate it for long, wait patiently, grow old with it, and lastly, see it blossom… It does not correspond to the modern way of living, but it worth the pain ! It is the originality of the Château La Grave white wines.



Les Balcons de l'Aude

The area of the Balcons de l'Aude is located in the west of the Minervois appellation zone.
It is a vast amphitheatre where the hills have soft slopes.
It stretches from the village of Laure to the village of Badens and overlooks the Canal du Midi.

It is warm, with few rainfalls, as a result harvest is early. Soils are heterogeneous. All types may be found, except the shistes : pebbles, marl, clay, limestone and sandstone. Depending on the plots owned, each property may be very different from its neighbour. It is a perfect soil for the Grenache variety, may be less interesting for the Carignan. In the last 5 years we have proved that the Syrah is it top choice..

We are at the break of two influences, the end of the south wind - never too strong - and the beginning of the north wind. The wind from the south, the Marin, brings humidity, is not a problem because it does not stay for long which is a major advantage during the harvest. The dry wind from the north is stronger and brings the clouds and beautiful rains in summer… a precious asset to prepare the reserve of water for the year. This wind is almost constant. We call it the Cers.

The Alaric mountain is another big influence over our part of the Minervois. Its location is where the Minervois meets the Corbières. Without this mountain, the blows would be monotonous. All these movements of air protect us from the frost.



The miracle of the Dakar

Dreaming about vast horizons and wild adventures, my passion for the Paris Dakar transformed me
from wine maker to co-pilot, from vineyards to desert, from the mediterrean landscapes to the harsh dry Dakar
navigations through sand and stones, and the merciless sun.


Under these conditions men (like their machines) are worn down quickly. And at the sixth stage of the race, shortly before the city of Tamanrasset we hit a rock and boom... the main tube to the cooling system snapped. After moments of nervousness and stress we managed calm ourselves enough for the reparation of the tube under the realisation of having no more water. There was no immediate solution and no way out of this situation..

Except for a miracle !

And our miracle was there to greet us ! We were smart enough to bring along some of the best wines of Château La Grave, and breaking our hearts we emptied the bottles one by one into the radiator. The Toyota BJ75 was not asking for that much. One taste and she was back into action.

The only glinch of this adventure was that we had to drink water that evening at the seventh stage. The following morning the car was coughing and was reluctant to start, as it was hoping for its drink supply of the day before.

The moral of the story is to always have a few bottles of Château La Grave as they will always be of great use.

Jean-Pierre Orosquette