DOMAINE DES MIQUETTES, PAUL ESTEVE & CHRYSTELLE VAREILLE, Saint-Joseph Organic, Natural
Domaine des Miquettes was created by Paul Estève and Chrystelle Vareille in 2003 in the village of Cheminas, a small village located on the high plateau above Tournon and Secheras, two towns located in the southern part of the Saint Joseph appellation. Paul and Chrystelle took over the farm from Paul’s family and turned one of the small farm buildings into a cramped and low-tech wine-making facility. In total, the domaine consists of five hectares. At the property in Cheminas, Paul & Chrystelle have planted one hectare of Syrah and one of Viognier which are classified as Pays des Coteaux de l’Ardèche. They also have three hectares in Saint Joseph with 2.6 planted to Syrah and .4h planted to Marsanne.
Paul had been working the Saint Joseph vineyard for the previous owner and when the owner decided to retire, he made arrangements to take over the three hectares. The Saint Joseph vineyard is located in the high hills above Secheras at an altitude of around 350 metres. It is planted on a steep hillside with soils of granite mixed with micaschist and its exposure is east/southeast. The vineyards, both in Saint Joseph and the Coteaux de l’Ardèche are certified as organic farms. The vineyard rows are worked throughout the year with either a tractor or horse-drawn plough which is used on the more difficult terrains. All harvesting is done by hand and the fermentations occur with natural yeasts and little or no temperature adjustments. The wines are fermented and matured in clay amphorae, all of which, are buried in a large purpose-built, sand-filled pit that Paul and Chrystelle call “une piscine” (a swimming pool”) following the traditional way of qvevri wine-making in the country of Georgia. Paul and Chrystelle have twelve of these buried amphorae or tinajas (since they are made in Spain).
‘The reds have that almost unrealistic sheen of youthful purple as per Seamus Heaney’s Blackberry Picking: … its flesh was sweet Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it Leaving stains upon the tongue’ Doug Wregg
Viognier – Chasselas is an intriguing wine, being a blend of the lesser-seen Chasselas and Viognier. The latter goes through carbonic maceration for seven days, whereas the Chasselas macerates for days on its skins with ambient fermentation and subsequent maturation taking place for one year in amphora. The wine is brought to bottle without filtration, fining or sulphur added. The wine itself shows what the two varieties can bring to the party and is orange in the glass with powerful notes of bergamot, lemon and absinthe and a smooth clean palate with fine bitter notes. The Chasselas (even after maceration and malo) brings real verve to the whole with a surprising cut of acidity and a flickering lash of salinity. Overall the wine shows amazing fruit character and purity.