Figuière’s Exciting Start for 2020
9 March 2020, Provence
The year 2019 will certainly memorable for the Combard family, as they celebrated an extraordinary 2019 harvest, had a successful run with the opening of their Domaine-restaurant l’Assiette, and finalised the purchase of an additional 34HA of planted vines with the acquisition of Chateau Barbeiranne.
The new year 2020 marks a fresh beginning with the re-branding of our beloved Le Saint André, now re-named Méditerranée after IGP appellation from which it comes. This chic new labelling will be accompanied by a branding launch in France with fun posters imagining the Méditerranée bottles accompanying you to the sea, or joining you on the beach.
With the acquisition of Chateau Barbeiranne and 34HA of planted vines, Figuière was able to use these grapes for the 2019 harvest. This means the Signature Côtes-de-Provence range, historically blended with estate and négoce grapes, is now 100% Estate Grown for 2019 after blending the grapes from Figuière’s property in La Londe with the grapes from the new acquisition in Pignans. Organic conversion has already begun for 2020, with organic certification to follow.
After a great debut of the 2019 vintage at Millésime Bio and VinExpo, these wines are now bottled and ready to ship!
Vineyard Work: End of 2019 to present
After a near-perfect 2019 vintage, the autumn and winter season are periods of restoring the vineyards in preparation for the next year. During the last few months, the work in the vineyard remains important. It is necessary to take care of both the soil and the vines.
For the soils
From autumn onwards, compost was spread and seedlings were sown between the rows with legumes and grasses. This work on schistose soils is essential to compensate for the strong natural minerality and to enrich them with organic matter.
With hindsight, François Combard can measure all the beneficial effects of this work year after year:
- Soil pH is increasing. The lowest pH the estate measured a few years ago was 5.5. Today it is 6.5. This is an evolution that has taken place over the last 15 years.
- The thickness of this rich soil also increases, thanks to the humus produced by the organic matter and by earthworms and nematodes. One volume of organic matter is equivalent to 6 volumes of water retention. In these hot and dry regions, this water retention capacity is essential.
- There is more oxygen in this part of the soil and therefore more room for root mycorrhization. This mycorrhization, which is a symbiosis between fungi and roots, increases the exchange surface between the plant and the soil and therefore a better supply of water and nutrients.
For the vines
Every year, some vine plants disappear due to disease and advanced age or other reasons. About 4% of the vines are renewed every year.
On the estate, vines that are too old have been pulled out and put to rest in order to be replanted the following year.
Finally, as every year at this same period, the Figuière teams rebuilt the trellises and started pruning the vines. This year, 34 additional hectares to be pruned in Pignans at Château Barbeiranne.
Update on Nature’s Pest Control : Bats & Birds
Following the invasion of moths from North Africa during the 2018 harvest, François Combard had thought about a natural solution, looking for predators to these caterpillars and butterflies.
The choice of installing both bat nesting boxes to combat moths and chickadees (insectivores) to combat caterpillars was a good idea!
Bats are finding homes in nesting boxes, and a population is gradually settling in the vineyard, far from the dwellings.
The chickadees are slower to settle. One of the reasons seems to be the lack of water. So in a few months, small reservoirs will be installed in the heart of the vineyard to help the birds acclimatize better.
However, 2019 showed a decrease of these moths and the vineyard did not suffer the same losses as in 2018.
Big News for 2019: 34HA Vineyard Acquisition!
In December 2019, the Combard family acquired Château Barbeiranne located in Pignans (Côtes-de-Provence), between Pierrefeu and Le Luc facing the Maures massif.
Comprising 34 hectares of vines, farm buildings, production facilities and an early 18th century country house, this wine estate has been owned and operated by Mrs Marie-Noëlle Febvre since 2005.
The acquisition of Château Barbeiranne meets three strategic objectives for Figuière: autonomy of supply, premiumisation of the ranges, and environmental commitment.
With this acquisition, Figuière achieves total autonomy in all its supplies of Côtes-de-Provence, part of which was until now sourced from purchased grapes or vinified must. The wines of Barbeiranne will now be vinified on site and then blended in La Londe-les-Maures with those of the Côtes-de-Provence Signature range: Magali, François and Valérie.
Figuière is in line with the premiumisation dynamic of Vins de Provence. The autonomy of its supply will naturally offer a better control of the quality of its wines. In the long term, the objective is to optimize two very beautiful complementary terroirs of the Var: La Londe, with its schist and maritime influence, and Pignans, with its clay- limestone soils and continental climate.
At Figuière, nature is a luxury! It is therefore quite natural that the estate has initiated the process of organic conversion of the entire vineyard of Château Barbeiranne. Certification will be achieved in three years time for the 2022 vintage.
Vintage 2019 – Overall Review
The 2019 vintages are ready and bottled for the whole range, from 50mL bottles upto Methuselah!
Overall 2019 is a vintage with more power than 2018, we note in the white and rosé vintages more richness and roundness, which leaves a pleasant texture in mouth. The aromas are pure and intense.
Note that 2019 corresponds to a small yield for the whites since we barely reached 35 hl/ha.
For the red wines, the Mourvèdres express finesse, the colours were clear this year, almost approaching those of Pinot Noir. For the Syrah, it is the opposite, this vintage is all in relief with concentrated tannins.
As Damien Pagès, the estate’s cellar master, says, “between relief and lace like in Montmirail!
Presentation of Figuière’s Wines
Méditerranée : IGP Méditerranée
Blanc 2019: 100% Vermentino (Rolle) – Notes of citrus, lemon, delicate white grapefruit peel, white jasmine and sweet hay. Juicy, slightly saline finish, and a perfect apèro wine.
Rosé 2019 : Spiced Red currants, watermelon and juicy red berries perfume the nose. The palate continues with a silky, fruit-forward finish!
Rouge: Black currants, baking spices and blueberries comprise the bouquet. The palate follows with cassis and floral violets.
Signature : Côtes-de-Provence
Valerie 2019 Blanc: Zingy and zesty! The wine is full of lemon drop, citrus balm, and fresh summer grass. The palate has notes of green banana and honeydew melon, with a lime zest finish.
Magali 2019 Rosé: The nose is filled with dried rose petals, pink peppercorn, pink watermelon and basil. The palate is crisp and dry, with a pretty floral finish.
François 2018: Spicy black plums, savoury saucisse, and leathery notes are present on the nose. The palate is very savoury, and the tannins are structured enough to pair with BBQ ribs.
Première : Côtes-de-Provence Organic Certified
Blanc 2019: On the nose, crushed almonds, white jasmine, and tarragon complement the lush Meyer lemon. The palate continues, but in addition dried pineapple and sweet hay.
Rosé 2019: The nose is rich in spice and fruit: pink peppercorn, juicy apricot, white peaches, and just-ripe strawberry. The palate is rich in texture that finishes on notes of tart raspberries in the mouth.
Rouge 2017: Smoky cigar, cacao power and a hint of mint are present on the nose. The palate is spiced with black pepper and smoked cedar, with tannins perfect for grilled red meat.
Confidentielle : Côtes-de-Provence La Londe Organic Certified
Blanc 2019: The nose is very tropical with dried mango and perfumed bourbon vanilla. The palate has flavours of whipped pineapple and creme fraiche, with a touch of tonka bean spice.
Rosé 2019: Fleshy yellow peaches and juicy red strawberries perfume this wine. The same fruits continue on the palate, but bush garrigue notes and pink grapefruit zest follow. The palate is richer with texture, minerality, and nice refreshing acidity. This is a gourmet wine, great to pair with food or to age!
Rouge 2017: The nose is sweet; sugared blueberry pie, ripe plums and blackberries. The palate continues with cassis and vanilla bean, and beautifully integrated tannins. A great pairing with roasted lamb.
Atmosphère 2018 : Methode Traditionnelle Organic Certified
Tasting Note: Crisp and fresh on the palate with pink and white grapefruit peel adding a zesty lift to the bouquet. The mouth has more citrus peel – juicy lime and lemon – with pink strawberries and raspberries that give this wine vibrancy!
Figuière’s Limited Releases
Figure #2 – Les Expérimentales
This artistic range continues to grow with Figure #2 now released. A blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah, this no-sulphies added wine is pure fruit that harmonizes the reductive qualities of Syrach with the fine tannins of the Mourvèdre, both grown on the schist soils of La Londe.
Grapes are destemmed, chilled and then fermented in stainless tanks for 20 days. The Syrah and Mourvèdre are vinified separately, and then blended after a 4 month ageing period.This wine was bottled in February 2020.
Tasting Note: A bouquet of purple violets and crushed blueberries pop out of the glass. Pure fruit follows on the palate harmonised with vanilla bean, black currants, and blackberries.
Pionnière 2018 – Gastronomic Rosé
Since Figuière Pionnière 2018 made its October debut, it has only continued to evolve beautifully! A blend of 60% Mourvedre and 40% Grenache grapes, this rosé has been aged for 9 months in 2-5 year-old oak barrels. As the family’s history is from Chablis, applying this same wine ageing technique as the famed Burgundy white wines, was an easy adaptation.
Tasting Note: Tasting this wine truly blind in a black glass would easily place it among some of the finer oak-aged white wines of the world. The integration of the wood is incredibly balanced, giving texture to the wine but allowing rich strawberry, quince and white peach fruit flavours to be expressed on the palate.
March 4th Re-Opening Figuière’s restaurant : l’Assiette
One of the projects started in summer 2019 was such a success that they decided to re-open much sooner this year! Seasonal restaurant l’Assiette, located at the heart of the Domaine, opened on March 4th, 2020!
Run by Chef Sebastien Liegeard, a member of the Combard family, the restaurant features small tapas plates designed to be shared! Menu ingredients are local and dishes have a regional theme using many of the recipes and flavours particular to the Provence area. And, Figuière’s estate-produced olive oil is often found on the menu too!
Dining here is a beautiful way to experience food and wine pairing with the entire Figuière wine range! If you are in the area, it is a delightfully authentic dining experience not to be missed.