Portraits Vignerons - Domaine Sibille : la touche alsacienne du minervois - Les Grappes

Domaine Sibille: the Alsatian touch of the Minervois

From Alsace to Carcassonne, Pierre and Barbara have brought with them an experience of white wines, a desire to build their own project and the desire to make wines in their own image. In 2015, they settle in the Minervois and embark on their adventure, that of the vines, the terroir and the wine.

Pierre and Barbara Sibille: a wine in their image

Pierre and Barbara worked for 20 years in Alsace. Pierre was an oenologist in a cooperative cellar, Barbara was a territorial civil servant. The desire to set up their own business and to build their project made its way: "we had precise specifications," says Pierre. "To take over a domain in Organic Agriculture was already the basis. As we loved syrah and grenache, we wanted to be between Lyon and Carcassonne. And we did not want to be too isolated. So it will be the Sibille domain, in Laure-Minervois, near Carcassonne. Pierre and Barbara will leave their suitcases during the winter of 2015. It is the beginning of their life as winemakers.

The sandstone terroir of the Sibille estate

The Sibille estate is located on sandstone terroirs. The climate alternates between oceanic and Mediterranean influences, which allows a wide variety of grape varieties to express themselves: viognier, chardonnay, roussanne, syrah, grenache, carignan, marselan, merlot ... " Our vines grow on hillsides. The terroir brings an acidic structure to the wines we love," explains Pierre. In these regions where the degrees easily rise to 14%, the sandstone terroirs allow the wines to keep their freshness and lightness.

The domain of white wines in Minervois

For Pierre and Barbara, the will is to produce wines that resemble their estate. To do this, leave the barrel and the wood. "We have ripe and aromatic grape varieties that don't need to be put into barrels," the oenologist says. For the red wines, a long vatting period allows the aromas and tannins to be gently extracted. As for the white wines, they are matured on lees to favour fatness and roundness. Each stage of the elaboration is thought through to produce the wine of their desires. "We carry out a pre-fermentation maceration on the whites to favour extraction, fruit and roundness," explains Pierre. Specificity of the Sibille estate: in a region dominated by reds, 40% of the production is in whites. "We come from Alsace where we had gained experience with white wines. We didn't want to lose our identity, and we decided to continue developing white wines," says the Alsatian oenologist.

Organic farming as a matter of course

"I worked for 20 years in conventional agriculture and the orientation towards Organic Agriculture is a personal choice. We wanted to produce healthy wines with a minimum of inputs", says Pierre. In addition to this, there are also economic motivations that carry weight: "The markets are looking for a lot of organic wines. In conventional, we would have already put the key under the door", adds the winemaker. In Organic Agriculture, the treatments of the vine are preventive and exclude the use of penetrating chemical products. Even years with high disease pressure, such as 2018, do not discourage the couple from pursuing organic farming. "I have the impression that we are taking fewer risks with organic, as we work a lot on prevention. In any case, we had an extraordinary harvest and very healthy grapes in 2018, which was a complicated year," Pierre explains.

A fine 2019 vintage at the Sibille estate

2019 is a year marked by drought and lack of water. The rains that arrived in the middle of the harvest allowed the last berries to grow. "The pH is low and the acidities are very well balanced", says Pierre. The 2019 vintage is therefore beautiful, and as a consequence of the heat wave, "these will be wines that will need to wait a little longer than the 2018 vintage," explains the winemaker.

Manon Mouly

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