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

Sébastien Philibert, back to the roots

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

Meeting with a passionate winemaker!

"The heritage of Calavon and Jas des Papes makes me humble.

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 winemaker who worked hard 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 theJas des Papesis a bit like his third life as a winegrower. " Michel Audibert gave me the opportunity to continue, to open and deepen my knowledge. We had a very strong bond, almost filial. It was a real transmission. He asked me to lead Calavon and Jas des Papes towards excellence. "Very close to the terroir, Sébastien quickly discovered its typical features, its assets and the pitfalls to avoid. Although he spends most of his time in the vineyards, his passion is for working in the cellar. Not forgetting the olive trees he is developing in Calavon. " We replanted some this year, we now have 12 hectares and in the long term, 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 on the vine.

Calavon is a somewhat capricious terroir, with a micro climate that must 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 one year is not necessarily valid the next. And with global warming, we have to manage plot by plot, whether it is the working of the soil, the treatments or the irrigation.

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

Massal selections

This is a subject that is close to his heart and has always been practiced in Sébastien's family. " 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 terms of wines. Clonal selection gradually leads to standardization. Today, there are yields, degrees, but a loss of typicity: " we are moving towards standard wines ". So the massal selection takes all its sense. When we select the best vines, we go beyond the existing capital.

"At the Jas des Papes, we are still in research...

When asked how he manages two 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 vinification and typicity are very different. The Syrahs in the Coteaux d'Aix and inchâteauneufhave nothing in common. Syrah behaves better on Châteauneuf, giving more freshness.

" Châteauneuf is a terroir that I know quite well. It's a bit of a return to my roots for me, I had vines on hillsides and plateaus with lots of pebbles, so I know the complexity of working on this type of soil. On a half hectare plot, 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 give wines that are easy to drink, silky, and that you won't find in the south. Afterwards, I also discovered the whims of the appellation. But I'm lucky to have someone on site who vinifies and who helps me well. "

This very beautiful terroir, in the east of the appellation, offers wines with fruit, structure, very fine tannins, and beautiful elegance after a passage on wood. And even if the team considers itself still in research, we can already guess behind the first vintages the real promising identity of the Jas des Papes wines.

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