Domaine de La Bérangeraie

VigneronBérenger family
LocationGrezels (Lot)
Size of Domaine30 ha
TerroirContinental climate with Atlantic and Mediterranean influences. Siderolithic (iron-rich) limestone with red clay and iron stones, Jurassic clay-limestone soils. 200-300m altitude.
ViticulturePractising organic
View Domaine de La Bérangeraie wines ↓

Bérangeraie is the type of domaine that inspired Nick to set up Vine Trail 30 years ago.

Run by the exceptionally hard-working Bérenger family, the domaine is in the hands of Maurin, his wife Marlène (both oenologists), sister Juline and her husband Henri who have diplomas in viticulture. Parents Sylvie and André originally had the mountainous task of clearing the limestone causse (above Grezels) of trees and shrubs to plant 20ha of vines in 1970 when the house was a tumble-down ruin, and the site had no access, water or electricity!

Here in this hauntingly peaceful and quite sauvage site, the family have the great benefit of being isolated away from the impact of other winemakers' work. Over the years the holdings have gradually increased to 30ha with many more mouths to feed in the three families the domaine supports.

Dynamic doesn't quite go far enough to describe the Bérenger's work. In the vineyards they plough, leaf-thin and debud to produce low yields. They are also one of the only domaines in Cahors where all the vines are hand-harvested. Hand-harvesting is four times more expensive than machine harvesting, but it prolongs the life of the vine and is the only way to ensure the quality of every grape that goes into the fermentation vat.

In 2002 they then built two houses for their young families from the local rough-hewn limestone. As if this work was not enough, Maurin was then voted president of the grower's syndicate for three years where, determined to show all the wines of Cahors in a better light, he persuaded the growers to reduce their maximum yield from 60 to 50hh. Now with houses finished and two spells as president behind him (he was re-elected for another stint), Maurin and the Bérenger family are applying all their efforts to finessing and improving their wines a touch further. How do they do this when they are hardly in need of oenological advice?

According to Maurin, by regular tastings, when five of the top Cahors winemakers meet and taste each other's wines (Pascal Verhaeghe from Château du Cèdre is one of the five), also by a recent certification of their work (in practically all aspects their work is organic) by Terra Vitis. In the cave, they continue to produce separate ranges of cuve and oak-aged wines, with their scarce top wines being made from single parcels. They also keep interventions of the wines down to a minimum and have drastically reduced the levels of sulphur. All the wines in the range are seriously good and represent outstanding value for money.

Maurin and ...
... Marlène Bérenger

Domaine de La Bérangeraie Wines

Cuvée Juline
90% Malbec, 10% Merlot
90% Malbec, 10% Merlot (13.5% alc.)
(13.5% alc.)

The soil here, siderolithique (limestone, clay and sandstone with a high iron content) is specific only to Cahors. An elegant approachable wine, it has a deep raspberry colour, a mix of blueberry, cassis, liquorice and menthol hints on the nose and palate, nice weight and fine silky tannins on the finish.

Cuvée Maurin
100% Malbec
100% Malbec (14.5% alc.)
(14.5% alc.)

The vines for Maurin are again planted in siderolithique soil (limestone, clay and sandstone with a high iron content). Exceptional wine made from 100% pure malbec, this has a much deeper, almost black cherry colour. Given a longer cuvaison than the cuvée Juline, it has more structure and a different aromatic profile – slightly tobaccoey, with fruit more redolent of figs/prunes and a touch of menthol and spice on the finish.

Les Quatre Chambrées
100% Malbec
100% Malbec (14% alc.)
(14% alc.)

This is Bérangeraie’s top unoaked wine and comes from a due south-facing hillside where the soil is a deeply weathered limestone imbued with iron deposits (siderolithic soil). Yields are usually 15% lower than the Maurin cuvée and the temperature of fermentation is never allowed to exceed a low 25°C (above which point harsher more unstable elements are extracted). It has bigger, riper fruit again than the Maurin, with notable menthol, liquorice, limestone and iron notes and tremendous depth.

La Nuit des Rossignols
100% Malbec
100% Malbec (13.5% alc.)
(13.5% alc.)

This comes from a cooler north-facing Kimmeridgian limestone hillside and was aged for 12 months in 1yo barrels. It has a bright blackcurrant colour, has happily integrated the oak, and has dark, fresh prune and fig flavours, balanced by perfect acidity. For drinking now to 2030+.

La Gorgée de Mathis Bacchus
100% Malbec
100% Malbec (14% alc.)
(14% alc.)

Bérangeraie’s top cuvée, Mathis Bacchus comes from 35yo vines planted in Jurassic limestones and marls on the hillsides of Floressas. Vinified in cuve, it was then transferred to new oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and bottled after fining but no filtration after a three years élevage. The oak is very well integrated, and the wine shows intriguing malbec character of mocha, eucalyptus, bay leaves and cloves. For drinking now to 2030+.

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