Domaine La Manarine
This "petite" domaine was created by Gilles Gasq in April 2001. The vineyards are located within the commune of Travaillan, on a splendid plateau northeast of Orange in the southern Rhone. Gilles is a talented vigneron who has honed his skills working as an assistant to Paul Jeune, the proprietor of Domaine Monpertuis in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Domaine La Manarine now encompasses 18 hectares of vineyards situated primarily on what is known as the "Le Plan de Dieu". For generations, this specific terroir has been recognized as unique. Recent research has identified the particular character of the underlying soil: a deep layer consisting of more than 60% hard limestone "galets" (large smooth pebbles). The climate is typically Mediterranean: relatively hot and dry with an average rainfall of between 600 and 800 mm per year. The rains usually come in the form of thunderstorms in late August which provide the vines with the water necessary to finish the maturation process (which tends to shut down under stressful drought conditions). Grenache Noir is the main grape variety of the region. It performs particularly well on this type of soil and gives wines with more elegance and aroma than is otherwise common. Gilles has recently acquired one hectare of Syrah vines which, when they mature and are used to supplement the Grenache (probably with the 2011 vintage), will then enable the Manarine wines to bear the appellation: Cotes du Rhone Villages – Le Plan de Dieu. Domaine La Manarine practices organic viticulture.
The vineyards are principally devoted to Grenache but include several parcels planted to white grape varieties. Gasq vinifies a Cotes du Rhone Blanc, a Cotes du Rhone Rosé and produces two different cuvées of red wine from separate plots of vines. For the moment, the two red Cotes du Rhone are 100% Grenache Noir.
Cotes du Rhone Blanc
The sole white wine of the estate is produced from a blend of Clairette and Bourboulenc. The grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled cement tanks and are left in contact with the fine lies for several months. Bottling takes place in early spring of the year following harvest. Production is quite limited; 2400 bottles are reserved for our use in the USA.
Cotes du Rhone Rosé
The Rosé from Manarine carries a light tint and is vinified completely dry. It is usually a blend of Grenache (60%), young vines Mourvedre (20%) and Syrah (20%). Like the white wine, it is fermented and aged in cement vats and is bottled in the early spring following harvest. We purchase approximately 6000 bottles per vintage.
Cotes du Rhone Rouge
The standard bearer of the domaine is the Côtes du Rhône Rouge produced from the younger (but not young) vines (average 35 years old) of the estate. This wine is 100% Grenache and produces a classically spicy, full-bodied wine that speaks clearly of the “garrigue” of the region. The grapes are destemmed before the fermentation and the cuvaison is on the order of three weeks duration. The wine is bottled without filtration after twenty to twenty-four months of “elevage”. The Manarine Cotes du Rhone is our essential wine in this category. We now purchase 15,000 bottles per annum.
Cotes du Rhone “Les Terres Saintes”
The prestige cuvée of Manarine is destined for aging and bears the name: "Terres Saintes". It is produced from a selection of lower yielding old vines (average 55 years old). Gilles destems the entire harvest and uses cement tanks for fermentation. The "Terres Saintes" (structured as a "vin de garde") benefits from a longer "cuvaison" of 30 days or more. During the "elevage" both red wines go through "delestage" and "remontage" (a technique whereby the tank is completely emptied and the wine pumped back into it on top of the layer of skins) to extract color and flavor. Once the fermentation is complete, the wine is racked into cement vats for aging but 20% of the "Terres Saintes" is also aged for 8 months in "demi-muids" (larger barrels of 600 liter size). The wine is bottled without filtration after a 24 month “elevage”. On average, 4800 bottles of Terres Saintes are destined for our use in the US market each year.