Along with Saint-Chinian, Faugères forms the western border of the Coteaux du Languedoc; a viticultural region that extends from Nimes to Narbonne. Faugères is one of just a few viticultural areas in this broad region to be granted appellation independence from the more encompassing Coteaux du Languedoc appellation. Comprising 2000 hectares, Faugères is most often discussed in terms of its nearly omnipresent schist soil, a factor that along with the micro-climate of the Monts de Faugères, gives a singular expression to the typical Languedocian grape varieties. Schist is a metamorphic rock and more specifically a metasedimentary rock, having changed from shale or mudstone to schist through a process called recrystallization. It is believed that these Paleozoic rocks in Faugères give birth to wines of finesse and austerity. [Veterans of the wine business understand metamorphosis. Ours usually involves fractional melting followed by desiccation cracks with no hope of a post-glacial rebound.]
In 1997, Catherine Roque, already a vigneronne in the Vallée de L’Orb, acquired Mas D’Alezon and its 7 hectares in the northern corner of Faugères. The vineyards are in the village of Soumatre and, ranging from 350 to 450 meters in altitude, are the highest in the appellation. Catherine’s vineyard is certified organic and she employs bio-dynamic principles to enhance the health of the soil and the plants. Catherine grows Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah for her reds and Clairette and Roussanne for her white. The average age of her vines is 25 years, including plots of 70 year old Grenache and 80 year old Mourvèdre. Due to the combination of infertile soils and cool micro-climate, her grapes are very slow to ripen and yields are typically 20 to 25 hl/ha. The domain’s two red wines are vinified similarly.
The Presbytère is 80% Grenache with the remainder a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre. The Montfalette is 80% Mourvèdre with the rest a blend of Syrah and Grenache. Catherine relies on indigenous yeasts for the fermentations and she believes in long and slow fermentation at cool temperatures. The wines are aged in cement tanks and barrels that are not new, for up to two years. No sulphur is used during this process and only at bottling is the smallest amount added. N.B. The geological terms and explanations (not my attempt at humor) are taken from an amazing book titled; Reading the Rocks by Marcia Bjornerud.