Figuière Provence Report – Spring 2019

May 21, 2019


We have just finished the last wine salon of the season – a very successful VinExpo 2019!  It was announced at the end of the fair that this was the last time it will be hosted in Bordeaux!  VinExpo is merging with Wine Paris, and we will see all our French wine fans at VinExpo Paris February 10 – 12th, 2020!

During this VinExpo salon with Figuière, we took the opportunity to interview winemaker François Combard and long-time Figuière chef de cave Damien Pagès about news and developments at Figuière, and what an exciting series of projects we have to share with you all!

Enjoy the report!

Fanny & Ellen

In this report you will find:
  • Figuière Season Update from end of Winter 2018 to Spring 2019
  • Crop covers progress to enrich the soils
  • Organic Pest control methods – birdhouses & bat houses
  • Tasting notes for Vintage 2018 rosés

Figuière Season Update – Winter 2018 to Spring 2019

Early 2019 vintage season has started very windy – a fabulous natural help to ensure a very healthy state in the vineyard!

However, sometimes a little violent, the Mistral did some damage to the fragile vines at the beginning of the vegetative cycle for the Vermentino.

This wind is all the more beneficial this year as it has rained a lot: 750 mm of rain since October. The rains were soft and regular, no violent storms, so the soils drained well and the water tables filled up again. Winter was mild, and Spring was early with a noticeable cooling at the end of March.  If all continues on schedule, flowering should take place at the end of May.

However, a successful harvest is all but guaranteed.  The current state of the vines show that there is strong pressure from mildew, and vigneron François is on the alert while he watches the vineyard carefully.

Sowing alfalfa last fall


Crop Covers take root

Soil work is extremely important at Figuière.  Last Fall, seedlings of rye (for mulching) and vetch (for nitrogen supply) were planted.

François wants to have a vegetation cover crop as long as possible to promote the life of microorganisms, soil freshness and moisture retention. Straws of rye can contain up to 15 times their volume!

The 5 ha tested last year will be tested again this year, however it is complicated to optimize mulching because rye shoots can grow quite high and sometimes reach heights too tall to lay down over the soil.

Alfalfa growth in Spring


Organic Pest Control with Mother Nature’s winged creatures

If you remember, we told you in our 2018 end-of-harvest newsletter about a new budworm that had hit the vineyard.

It’s cryptobladesse: it’s a moth. Normally it lives in North Africa, but the milder winters of recent years have favoured its migration to our region of Provence. This caterpillar is usually sensitive to cold temperatures and normally winters put an end to this risk.  However, these caterpillars spend the winter in the dried grapes remaining on the vines from harvest.

They like sugar and will feed when the veraison period comes. This caterpillar develops about 2 to 3 weeks before the harvest, when it attacks the grapes, it creates a hole that leads to the development of rot. It is a potential scourge that must be contained.

The Figuière estate is under organic cultivation and François, who is always observing what is happening in the vineyard, wanted to find a natural way to fight these budworms.  The idea was therefore to find predators for the insect’s two different life cycles: the butterfly and the caterpillar.

For the caterpillars, François has installed nesting boxes to house the Mésanges, a European/North African caver-nocultural bird that has no nests and use the holes in trees or old walls to make a home with a little moss. On the 10 ha of vines most affected by the budworm last year, 10 nesting boxes per ha were installed on the vine stakes.

The chickadees make small migrations, those who live in Provence in winter migrate to the North of France in the summer and those who come to Provence in summer come from the South of Italy. It is a bird that breeds 3 times a season with an average of 6 to 8 birds per brood. However, there is a 75% loss and only 4 to 5 chicks will survive.

What is interesting is that the mésanges live about 3 years and return every year to the breeding grounds of the previous year. By installing these nesting boxes, the estate encourages the establishment of biodiversity over time.

The nesting boxes were installed in mid-February to receive the mésanges and the estate hopes for an 80% occupancy in 2 years.

Birdhouses for mésanges


To fight butterflies, as they are moths, the estate has installed bat nesting boxes! There are 10 nesting boxes around the vines.  Their life expectancy is longer and the bat pair reproduces one baby one per year, but without mortality. Here again, these animals are loyal to the habitat sites and the bats installed this year are expected to return next year.

In parallel, the domain will do counts to study the life cycle of this budworm: 4 pheromones are being tested this year. They attract the butterflies/moths that stick to trap surfaces. Traps are regularly surveyed to count the number of butterflies and anticipate attacks.

Bat Boxes


Vintages 2018
The vintage was hot, humid and not very windy, an exception for the region!
The wines are very fresh, and very gourmet.  We have a balanced, aromatic vintage with gourmet fruits.

Confidentielle 2018 Blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre with more Mourvèdre than the première rosé. The grapes come from a selection of schistose parcels with outcropping schists. The harvest is 10 days later than the harvest of the Cuvée Première.  The nose is ripe with juicy strawberries and fleshy yellow peaches. The same fruits continue on the palate, but with a herbal garrigue note and a touch of quince and white grapefruit zest. Minerality is also evident on the palate with a fuller texture, round mouthfeel, and nice refreshing acidity. This is a gourmet wine, definitely meant to pair with food.

Première 2018 Blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre
Very fresh and crisp acid with a white pepper prick on the tongue. Just ripe strawberries, and juicy ripe white raspberries are explosive from the glass in the bouquet, and continue in harmony with juicy watermelon on the mouth. Texturally the palate has a nice zest that finished with a rich round texture.

Magali 2018 Blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon
Magali Rosé is a pleasurable, medium-bodied rosé with aromas and flavors of strawberries, orange peel and white flowers. The refreshing character of Provençal rosé with its bright acidity and moderate level of alcohol make it the ideal partner to the simply prepared cuisine of the Mediterranean. Serve this wine with crudités and anchovy sauce, marinated red bell peppers and a crudo of sea bass with lemon and peppercorn.

Le St André 2018 Blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon

Le Saint André Rosé is intended to be light, invigorating and easy-to-enjoy. Aromas and flavors of peach, orange skin and white flowers are accented by refreshing acidity and a salty minerality thanks to the influence of the sea.

Cuvée Pionnière – Formerly Cuvée Absolu – 
The wine is still maturing, in 300 and 500 litre barrels of several woods. It is a blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache vinified and matured separately and in barrels. The tastings on fut are very promising with a very nice mouth texture, a high fat content and a complex and elegant fruit.  A very small quantity will be produced with the 2018 vintage with 2400 to 300 bottles.

Atmosphere 2017 Assemblage Grenache (45) / Cinsault (45) and Rolle (10%)– Rolle is added as the chilled grape juice for the second fermentation.
We find an expression of finesse in the bubbles, carefully aged in bottle yet preserving its pink colour that shines with flecks of peach skin
A sparkling wine that is balanced between freshness and roundness, that finishes elegant, fruity and dry. 100% Certified Organic.


Rosé “Pionnière” still in barrel


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