Deciding to take over your grandparents’ wine estate when you’re twenty or so years old and a dental assistant is not for the faint-hearted. By 1999, Céline Cabanel was already a year and a half into her studies in Pézénas. She started off at the co-operative, like her grandparents, then chose to go it alone. Now, aged forty, she runs the 6-hectare property - with 3 ha classed as AOC Faugères and 3 as Vin de France - on her own, with the help of an oenologist during winemaking.
Everything had to be overhauled as the vineyards were in a poor state of repair and Céline had to clear scrubland and plant vines. She opted for fruity wines. Her Faugères are blended mainly from Grenache and Syrah with a touch of Mourvèdre for structure, and not too much acidity. The relatively friable, schist soils do play a part in the taste profile, however. The Vins de France are white wines made from Chardonnay and Muscat à petits grains and, though fruity on the palate, are dry.
Céline stopped using chemical weedkillers and now only uses a French plough to remove some of the grass between the vines, which of course requires more effort.
This year, a cellar is being set up and will provide facilities for ageing the wines. At the moment, bottling is outsourced but everything has to be geared to the future. In a few years’ time, the appellation will introduce a mandatory percentage of Carignan, the historic grape variety of Faugères. Céline will therefore have to add some to her blends. She obviously hopes that all her efforts will ultimately benefit her 17 year-old son and 14 year-old daughter. But it’s still a little soon to find out whether they too will catch the wine bug!