Strongly Elegant Wines

Just Gorgeous !

Douce Providence, Pour un Peu de Tendresse, Rendez Vous du Soleil, Sous les Cailloux des Grillons, L'Inattendu and Lo Vièlh Carignan



10 Years of Gravillas

Gravillas = ROCKS

Gravillas = gravel, white, blinding phonolithic calcium carbonate rocks @280 meters. Nicole came to St.Jean de Minervois in 1996 to plant young syrah, cabernet and mourvedre vines in Gravillas. But in 1999, she also rescued 2.5 hectares of 1911 Carignan and a parcel of old Grenache Gris.

Pure Carignan red and Grenache white were the surprise successes of coaxing wines out of the gravillas. Those wines, Lo Vièlh and L'Inattendu, have been good enough that we sometimes ask ourselves if the plantations were necessary.

We now work 6 hectares organically (that's bio), with severe pruning to reduce yields and increase maturity and concentration, lots of spring/summer work on each plant, maximum waiting for maximum ripeness in September and October, severe field sorting at harvest to keep only the delicious grapes and non-interventionist winemaking to hang on to the flavors that came in the cellar door. 13 different grape varietals go into 6 or 7 individual wines. We even foot crush all the grapes, if anyone out there needs something to do in October...


Almost 2010 and the Brown U. Alumni Gift Guide just wrote about us, FYI the wines can be found in NYC at Chambers St Wines, in CA at, in KY at Liquor Barn and in the MidWest USA at JohnsIsland. See the Contacts page!

And thanks to the Commonwealth of Kentucky for such a great homecoming in November !

October 2009--how could the sky be any bluer?

Good news in ze presse about Lo Vièlh Carignan, included in France's top wine magazine's list (RVF 7/09) of the 100 best Languedoc reds -- AND now the major wine GUIDE (Bettane et Dessauve 2010) has named L'Inattendu 07 among the top 7 Languedoc whites. We are delighted. The 09 harvest has gone very smoothly as well, after 3 months with one rainstorm each. Great grapes, great picking team and a small enough harvest that we actually have enough room move around in the cellar.

If you want to hear John interviewed on KY WFPL Homegrown, go to:

for Florida radio, go to the following podcast page: itpc://

or stream it directly here

2009 already

April, come she will, and she's raining as the 2009 buds start breaking a few weeks early. Pruning is done, plowing has started, wine is rolling out the door to some new places, and bottles are being filled to replace the empties. The twin Toselli crawlers have already crawled the whole (vast) domaine once and soon a second time. It's good to have two--originally a cheap (they're almost as old as I am) solution to impending breakdown (or rollovers, see 2007), but now as well a way NOT to have to change implements back and forth. We're confirming our decisions to use labor wherever we could get away with avoiding capital expenditures.Stay small, stay slow, do Belief Intensive Agriculture !



2008 was a rollercoaster ride. But suddenly, after bringing in our 10th harvest, we got a letter from each of the 4 main french wine guides saying that in 2009 they had decided to write about us (and wouldn't we like to buy a copy or 10...of course we would.) Even nicer is that each guide seems to prefer a different group of our 6 wines, so something good must be going on across the board.

Earlier in the year, The Wine Report 2008 included us in their list of the top 10 Languedoc domaines -- which is just silly as there are at least 700 domaines, but it made my mother very proud (and yes, I bought a copy for her too)...

2008 was a warm winter, a cool and very wet spring, late bud break, lots of fungus pressure in the vines, a dry cool summer with just barely enough rain, a harvest starting 2 September and finishing 14 October (slow slow slow), and fermentations that aren't in any hurry. The Carignan was beautiful.

In 2008 was born a new wine, pure Terret Gris 07, as light and peppy as our Grenache white is luscious and rich. Gravillas has a great new importer singing the song of muscat in Poland and another preaching the religion of Carignan in the Netherlands.




2007 is over.

This was the perfect storm harvest. Perfect grapes. Faster pickers. More grapes (too many for our tanks, now the tanks are double parked and 2 more barrels are full of white--we're at our space limit). Fermentations are finishing slowly (penance?) but tastings are good. The whites are great. The reds very good. The Muscat is, well, Muscat. All this wine means we're going to need a couple more countries drinking Gravillas. Who's it going to be in 2008?

What changed in 2007? John rolled his caterpillar tractor and survived; the tractor needed open heart surgery but is back in service, if still bleeding slowly. The weeds took advantage--we pulled more than normal by hand. We're still working organic (now 4th year) but we actually completed the certification paperwork. Heavy mildew and oidium pressure early in the season meant that our sulfur dusting had to be rigorous and regular. We borrowed some "biodynamic" tricks--using clay and algae powders to combat fungus and reduce copper and sulfur. April was very hot (we swam), May and June were like normal April except for it didn't rain but once. It didn't rain in July either and almost didn't in August. Very dry summer. Fortunately, August was very cool (we didn't swim !) and September gave just enough rain to bring the grapes to ripe. Great acidity, not too much alcohol. Super taste. Harvest start 27 August, finish 3 October.

2006: We had a very wet, wet, mushy, slow, lunatic harvest, with all the new whites coming in perfectly before the humidity got too intense but with serious work required to bring in perfect and very ripe red grapes after a couple hundred millimeters of rain. The 2006 reds made it into their barrel in May. The Muscats are all bottled and now making it onto shelves everywhere (!). L'Inattendu is just grenache again in 2006. There's a bit of pure terret in bottle but still no label in sight !

We were looking forward to this (our 8th) harvest especially because we've now got THIRTEEN grape varieties (just bought 3 more white parcels) and hoped that the new grenache blanc, terret gris and macabeu would blend perfectly with our grenache gris. But they weren't as racy as they should have been so they got excluded from L'Inattendu. 2007 is looking much more promising for the new white cepages.

And we are delighted that Sous les cailloux des Grillons (under the stones, crickets), the 7 grape blend red, is in bottle and it's smooth. Who can guess the 7 varietals???


In 2005, we had a bountiful harvest. After 3 bone dry months, we finally got some rain mid August and the grapes came around. Harvest was WET, with 150mm on one September weekend and 400mm more by the end of October--usually a half-year total here. (and over a meter by spring time--though zero since May!) We finished picking 10 October, with a half day's harvest still out waiting for "just a touch more ripeness", but then came 10 days of rain and those grapes had to be left in the field. Our "wait however long it takes for ripeness" wager didn't pay off in 2005, at least not on two days of harvest that got left behind--but that's the risk we have to take.. What's now finished fermenting is really good though and half went into barrels in June. For more 2005 info.


Nicole, John, Sacha hard at work






Purity & natural expression—elegant, refreshing, full, delicious. It is possible to make a great red in the middle of the world's best "terroir de muscat!"


 Slower is absolutely required—by hand, low-impact, grain by grain harvest, foot stomped grapes (yes, really)


Naissances et renaissances...a vineyard, a dream, a wine, a baby 


"Gravillas est fort - élégant"

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