Portraits Vignerons - Sébastien Philibert, le retour aux sources - Les Grappes

Sébastien Philibert, back to the roots

Sébastien Philibert joined Château de Calavon and the Jas des Papes estate in 2016. Coming from a family of winegrowers, in the 5th generation, his career has taken him from the Drôme Provençale to the vineyards of Cahors, via the Charentes-Maritimes. So Provence is a bit like going back to the roots. The terroirs of the Rhone Valley are familiar, those of the hillsides of Aix, a discovery, even if the grape varieties are close and complementary.

Meeting with a passionate winegrower!

"The heritage of Calavon and the Jas des Papes humbles me."

It is with some sadness that Sébastien evokes the memory of Michel Audibert, owner of the vineyards, who died last year."He was a visionary and committed winegrower, who did a lot for the red wines of Provence. He searched for a long time for vines in Châteauneuf to create this link between two beautiful red terroirs ".

For Sébastien, the arrival in Calavon and the Jas des Papes is a bit like his third life as a winegrower. "Michel Audibert gave me the opportunity to continue, to open up and deepen my knowledge. We had a very strong, almost filial bond. It was a real transmission. He asked me to lead Calavon and the Jas des Papes to excellence. "Very close to the terroir, Sébastien very quickly discovered its typicities, its assets and the pitfalls to be avoided. Although he spends most of his time in the vineyards, his passion goes above all to work in the cellar. Without forgetting the olive trees that he is developing in Calavon. "We have replanted some this year, we now have 12 ha and in time we would like to produce olives for our customers, and even have our own mill".

Soil management contributes to the quality of the wines. 80% of the wine is made in the vineyard.

Calavon is a somewhat capricious, peculiar terroir, with a microclimate that really needs to be taken into account. Very early, the harvest lasts 6 to 7 weeks. "We have a wide variety of terroirs, ranging from deep sandy-clay soils to shallow stony hillsides. While this variety offers great complexity, it requires a great deal of observation and humility. What is valid in one year is not necessarily valid in the next. And with global warming, we're being forced to manage plot by plot, whether it's tillage, treatments or irrigation. "

Another particularity, the vineyard has 11 hectares of Carignan that the Audibert family has always kept lovingly. "It is a grape variety that has been denigrated but that I like very much. I've been working on it for a long time. Today, we have sensational results. After the craze for Syrah and Grenache, we realize that it is a grape variety that has its place because it is early, and we can harvest it ripe. It counts for years to come, with global warming. "

The massal selections

A subject close to his heart, which has always been practiced in Sébastien's family. "My father made a lot of them, my grandmother was passionate about grafting and always selected apricot trees, olive trees and vines. For Sébastien, the objective is to perpetuate the plant capital, to keep a constant in the wines. Clonal selection gradually leads to standardisation. Today, there are yields, degrees, but a loss of typicity: "we are moving towards standard wines". Then the massal selection takes all its meaning. When we select the best vines, we go beyond the existing capital.

"At the Jas des Papes, we're still searching..."

When asked how he manages 2 estates as different as Calavon and Le Jas des Papes, Sébastien explains the complementarity he finds there, the bridges he has been able to create, especially through the common grape varieties. Even if the vinifications and typicities are very different. The Syrahs on the hillsides of Aix and Chateauneuf have nothing to do with it. Syrah behaves better on châteauneuf, gives more freshness.

"Châteauneuf is a terroir that I know quite well. It's a bit like going back to my roots for me, I had vines on hillsides and plateaus with a lot of pebbles, so I know the complexity of the work on this type of soil. On a plot of 1/2 hectare, we can find three, four or even five different terroirs, which implies a great organization for the harvest. But we realize that once in the vat, we find what we tasted on the vine. The terroir of Châteauneuf is really very expressive and there is a very deep, historical link between the terroir and the finished product. The deep soils produce wines that are easy to drink and silky, which you won't find in the south. Then I also discover the whims of the appellation. But I'm lucky to have someone on site who vinifies and supports me well. »

This very beautiful terroir, to the east of the appellation, offers wines that are fruity, structured, with very fine tannins, and a beautiful elegance after a passage over wood. And even if the team still considers itself to be in research, one can already guess behind the first vintages the true promising identity of the wines of Jas des Papes.

Find Sebastien's wines from the Calavon estate and the Jas des Papes on Les Grappes

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