Wine makers’ Portrait Gallery
Michelle and Philippe Selle,
Determined and idealistic, these former vine-growers turned wine-makers have made the choice to go for quality and for organic production, taking risks which are now paying off. Michelle and Philippe sometimes have stars in their eyes but they always keep their feet firmly on the ground. Devoted to the cultivation of vines, these earth-lovers could take for their own the old saying "Work hard amongst the vines, laze around in the cellar", given the care they lavish on their crops.
It just goes to show that the earth is full of promise for those who know how to listen to it.
Anne and Géraud Arbeau
Together, Anne and Géraud, brother and sister, are continuing to write the family history begun a century ago by their grandfather Pierre. Working in the vineyards, making the wine, but also carrying on the business of wine merchants, the brother and sister never stop.
Staunchly upholding the values of the South-West to which they are deeply attached, Anne and Géraud sell wines from the Place du Capitole in Toulouse to the United States, from the Place Nationale in Montauban to China…. In short, to the four corners of the world.
The wine growers/makers of Vinovalie - Cuvée Astrolabe,
Patrick Tissonnières, wine-grower/maker from father to son, has his feet firmly planted on the Earth. If "l'Astrolabe" calls to mind the ship of La Pérouse (the French equivalent of Captain Cook) or an old instrument for measuring the inclination of the stars, for this lover of wines to lay down the Astrolabe is first and foremost a dense, pure Négrette wine, which he likes to marry with well-ripened cheeses.
When you know that Patrick is the kingpin of the Conservatoire de la Négrette, you realise that this exceptional grape variety is very important to him. And if he takes to observing the stars, it's with a glass of Fronton in his hand !
The wine growers/makers of Vinovalie - Cuvée Haut-Capitole,
Jean-Michel and Clément Rigal
There is 30 years' difference in their ages…. The father is an oenologist trained in Bordeaux, the son has a diploma from the Toulouse Business School. The former loves rugby, the latter is still playing football. Nowadays, they share the same passion for the family vineyard and its principal grape variety the Négrette - noblesse, in the form of the Fronton appellation, oblige…
Thus, the successor is already in place : brought up on the family estate, he is fully conversant with everything concerning the cultivation of vines with the aim of producing quality wines in complete respect of the "terroir" itself. Clément has always been quick to show interest and enthusiasm for any initiative that contributes to the development and recognition of the Fronton AOP and of its iconic grape variety. Given these ingredients, the handover from father to son now under way should have some pleasant experiences in store for Négrette enthusiasts, who, by definition, enjoy Fronton wines.
The wine growers/makers of Vinovalie - Cuvée Inès,
If Cathy modestly explains that it's still her father's experience which helps her to manage 18 hectares of vines, she's nevertheless the one who's been running the family vineyard for the last five years.
Mother of three, head of a business, a trainee member of the Vinovalie Administrative Council and on the Fronton site where she delivers her grapes, Cathy never stops.
Bringing a feminine touch to this frequently male-dominated sector, this vine-grower is particularly proud of contributing to the making of an excellent rosé, which has been crowned world champion several times. An Inès-timable privilege…
If this young wine producer has the build of a rugby player, that's because he's managed to combine his two great loves : the oval ball and wine.
In 2010 this grandson of a wine grower/maker started to work with his friend Jean-Paul (whose surname also happens to be Roumagnac) to develop the sales side of the estate's wine business. And in just a few years, this team work has paid off. Now involved in the process from harvest to blending, Jean-Paul, who is passionately interested in oenology and in the local "terroir", has successfully used his experience as a salesman to develop the range and to market it widely, as far afield as the United States.
Try converted !
Domaine Le Roc,
The Ribes family runs the Domaine Le Roc, and Frédéric, who has made the Négrette his hobby-horse, is undoubtedly the joker in the pack.
The evocative name of the Cuvée Don Quixote is an indication of the character and generosity of its creator. Very appropriate for this man who proudly styles himself a "paysan" (a man of the countryside, without the pejorative connotation of "peasant" in English.)
Domaine des Pradelles,
When she drops her harvesting basket, Noëlle aims for a basketball one.
Far from Harlem, her favourite sports field alternates between the gymnasium and the vines, between barrel and hoop. The family estate has been in existence since 1869, and Noëlle, who took it over in 2012, is continuing the great saga. In Vacquiers, NBA could mean : Négrette and Basketball Addicted !
Thundering typhoons ! Captain Laduguie is no landlubber ! But when he's not on board a sailing boat or a catamaran, Philippe is out amongst his vines or in the winery. Just like the man himself, the wines are powerful and full of character, the perfect companions to meals bursting with flavour.
Domaine de Lescure,
Fabien isn't the type to put all his eggs in one basket : he combines the jobs of a wine-maker, cereal-farmer and hazelnut producer. And if he's drawn an hour-glass on his bottles, it's because time matters very much to him.
The third generation of the family to work the estate, the weather is just as important to the farmer/vine-grower as is passing Time…. And if his "Comme avant" (As it used to be) wine is slowly matured in oak barrels, the 100% Négrette is called "A l'avenir" (To the Future). This tells you that Fabien is a firm believer in this exceptional grape variety.
Château Viguerie de Belaygue,
In the South-West of France during the Middle Ages, a "viguerie" was an administrative jurisdiction.
Although he does not dispense justice, Cédric Faure works with great judgement and respect. Devoted to the land and to this "terroir", he is very committed to bringing the best out of each plot of land.
Fanny Vayson de Pradenne and Ali Mahmoudi
The Château Saint-Louis is a success both from the architectural and from the winemaking point of view : it is a beautiful place and high-quality wines are made there.
Fanny Vayson de Pradenne could well describe her father as "a hero", as Ali Mahmoudi has put so much of himself into this property, whose production has been organic since 2006. 30 hectares of vines which are pruned, cultivated and their leaves removed by hand surround a gentleman's country house. Built in red brick, it is growing like a tree extending its branches. Good taste prevails : Persian blue decorates the vats and a collection of antique Shiraz bottles reminds us that both wine and glass bottles were invented in the Orient.
Inspired by her father, an oenologist and scientist, Fanny is proud to be associated with this incomparable vineyard where rigorous methods combine with a touch of poetry.
According to Nicolas Gélis, the cultivation of vines is one of the noblest ways of giving expression to the earth itself. And Nicolas has cooked, worked and travelled the earth.
By turns the boss of a brick works, then a winegrower/maker, successively buying up three domains in the Fronton area, the first in 1993, Nicolas also makes the most of his numerous travels to export his wines. After getting into vines, his excursions into Central America have now led him to become interested in cocoa growing. What an adventure !
It's not the man who gets under the skin of the Négrette, it's the Négrette which gets under the man's skin… The Négrette definitely got under his…. it was in Vacquiers, as he remembers…
It's here in this countryside port, above the Toulouse plain, that for the past 20 years Marc Penavayre has been getting the earth to speak for itself. It speaks Organic, it speaks Occitan, it speaks "Terroir"….. and the songs ends : "the Château Plaisance is the place for me !"
If he abandoned, almost 20 years ago now, the frenetic world of information technology for the love of vines and of wine, it was with the intention of making good, very good, Fronton.
Today, Guy Salmona works about fifty hectares organically, playing on the nuances expressed by his "terroir" like a passionate musician. He is a true virtuoso of the Négrette and the blends made with it…. all in perfect harmony.
Château La Coutelière,
Sylvain, in his thirties, is the fourth generation of wine-growers/makers on the estate. Devoted to the care he takes of the vines and of the land itself, Sylvain ascribes great importance to working the soil, to keeping down the quantity of products he puts on it and to sustainable methods of cultivation.
Far from putting on an act, his theatre is constituted by his plots of land, which gave their name to the Château and its wines. His target : quality !
Château La Colombière,
Diane and Philippe Cauvin,
Taking advantage of an exceptional "terroir" in Villaudric and using cultivation and winemaking methods which respect the principles of biodynamic farming, using their secret formulae Diane and Philippe make some…magic potions ! Abracadabra…. After very careful maturation, the wines present fine aromas and great elegance.
Marie-Ange and Jérôme Soriano,
Jérôme's accent betrays his origins. With Marie-Ange, he made his way up the Canal du Midi from Béziers to Toulouse to take a plunge in the South-West.
They put their toes in the water (or rather in La Négrette) in 2010 when they took over the Château Joliet, going progressively from just vine-growers to wine-makers as well. Since then life has been flowing along (mostly) peacefully from medals to awards.
Katia Garrouste demonstrates that you can be a wine grower/maker and still be the very soul of femininity and elegance. She loves spending convival evenings with friends and produces wines for her mates who turn up unexpectedly.
Her favourite colour is red, of course… and not only in a glass. And as Katia's friends include Jeanne Lacombe, painter and plastic artist, this results in spring-like, flowery labels, which reflect the wines themselves. That's what we said : Elegance...
Château Clos Mignon,
"Please, draw me a sheep". (Le Petit Prince ; St. Exupéry)
Olivier Muzart, a great traveller who is interested in everything, regularly goes around the world and its vineyards. From this, he draws the inspiration for his work and his philosophy of life. His wines in themselves are an invitation to travel.
We will, we will rock you ! Singing!
Under his rocker's leather jacket and tee-shirt, Jean-Michel Bégué has a true heart of…rosé ! To the extent that he has dedicated the superb rosé wine of Château Clamens to his daughter Julie, as a hymn to elegance and finesse. It just goes to show that you can combine electric guitar and secateurs, hard rock and great wine.
To be the proprietor of a winery which is over two hundred years old and to keep it going with passionate devotion is a real privilege. For Martine Rougevin-Baville, who also adores music and hosts numerous concerts at the Château, this fine heritage certainly does not play second fiddle. Made with loving care, the Château's wines constitute a perfect aromatic symphony.
Dominique has more than one string to her bow ! Mathematics teacher at the high school, grower of fruit trees who takes great care of the apples and peaches in the family orchard and a passionately interested wine-maker, this lady from Fronton still finds time to go for a bike ride now and then. What energy !
Château Bellevue La Forêt,
Golf club or wine tasting club ? Philip Grant chose…..Both !
If the phlegmatic approach seems very British, this neo-Frontonnais is nevertheless an Irishman. After a successful career in finance, Philip bought the Château de La Forêt in 2008, one of the most renowned vineyards in the Fronton appellation, thus making his dream of becoming a wine grower/maker come true.
And to applaud the many medals he has won for the high quality of his wines, his team regularly sing him a chorus of "Congratulations".
In Occitan, Belaygues means "beautiful waters". A snail features on the capsule of the Château's bottles….. But make no mistake : if the place name or the reference to snail-farming are linked to water, Guillaume Veyrac's speciality is most definitely…. good wine ! For Guillaume, who stands on the markets in the region, there's no such thing as a mere customer : they're all friends. A good humoured family atmosphere prevails.
Clare and David Vigouroux
When he met Clare, the mother of his four children, David Vigouroux opened his heart and his market… towards England.
The fifth generation of his family at the Château Baudare, David Vigouroux, often elected "Best Winegrower/maker of the Frontonnais", produces a wide range of elegant, honest and delicious wines, with a special mention for his "vieilles vignes": wine from old vines. Yummy !