The year is 1985. Oenology students Isabelle and Laurent Coustal visit an estate in the Minervois, a few dozen kilometres from Carcassonne, with one of their lecturers from Toulouse.
Situated on the slopes of the Montagne Noire, Château Sainte-Eulalie boasts a terroir that is recognised as one of the region’s finest. Isabelle and Laurent immediately fell in love with it.Ten years and three children later, the couple were having doubts over their careers.
Both winemakers for Bordeaux negociants, they were beginning to feel a certain amount of frustration. “We were giving advice, but never following the product through to the end”, comments Isabelle. Fuelled by a desire to produce their own wine, they head off in search of a vineyard in the Corbières or Minervois. Call it chance or fate, Château Sainte-Eulalie was looking for new owners. It didn’t matter that the buildings and equipment were in a state of disrepair: “We bought the terroir, and that is irreplaceable”, explains the former winemaker turned wine grower.
Twenty-two years on and the Coustals now farm thirty-eight hectares of vines with a respect for biodiversity, making the estate eligible for HVE certification (High Environmental Value).
The Grenache, Syrah and Carignan vines produce four reds, labelled either AOC Minervois or AOC Minervois La Livinière. The estate’s flagship label, Cantilène (90/100), accounts for approximately 60,000 bottles, nearly a third of Château Sainte-Eulalie’s production. The ‘Grand Vin’ label is grown on a more boutique scale (92/100) from the estate’s oldest vines. Bottled in the spring following the harvest, it is then matured in bottles for a year and a half before being released.
A total 75% of the estate’s 220,000 bottles produced annually are shipped to export markets, from the United States to China, via Canada, Brazil and Northern Europe. Cellar door sales to private customers make up 10% of total volumes.
Written by Alexandra Reveillon