Domaine Philémon is located in Villeneuve-sur-Vere, a small village in the northeastern part of the Gaillac appellation, in Southwest France. The Vieules family have owned vines in Villeneuve since 1804. Today the vineyard is run by Mathieu Vieules who grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportions. All his land is farmed organically, certified since 2013. The domain takes its name from Mathieu’s great-grandfather, Philémon, who in 1914 was the first generation to produce wine commercially. In 2003 Mathieu became the first to estate bottle his family’s wines.
Mathieu has 20 hectares of vineyards in production along the Cordes plateau on south-facing slopes with a calcerous soil. They are planted almost entirely to the traditional Gaillac grape varieties: Loin de L’oeil, Mauzac and Muscadelle for the whites, and Braucol (Fer Servadou), Duras, Prunelart and Jurançon Noir for the reds. A good proportion of the extremely low-yielding vines are more than fifty years old and all hand-harvested. In addition to being certified organic the domain is a member of Nature et Progrès, an organization that certifies natural wine. The still wine bottles are all uniquely sealed with a crown cap.
20 HECTARES – ORGANIC
Gaillac Perlé Nature
Type: WHITE WINE | Variety: LOIN DE L’OEIL | Additional info: Organic, indigenous yeast, minimal SO2
This unique wine is produced from a single variety, the indigenous Loin de L’Oeil. Normally considered a minor “blending grape,” some local producers – such as Domaine Philémon – experiment with this varietal to see how it does on its own. Organically-grown and hand-harvested grapes are pressed slowly and gently in a pneumatic press. Because of the low yields this wine fills the palate with a wonderful concentration of flavors while retaining a freshness that is underscored by mineral, petrol and citrus notes.
The freshness in the wine is achieved by preserving some of the natural CO2 that occurs during the vinification, although for decades most producers have added CO2. Mathieu does not add CO2 or anything else to his wines as is certified by the agency, Nature et Progrès. Mathieu adds 15mg/L of SO2 before bottling. The bottles are sealed with a crown cap.
Type: RED WINE | Variety: BRAUCOL | Additional info: Organic, indigenous yeast, unfiltered/unfined, minimal SO2
Croix d’Azal comes from a one hectare plot of 17-year-old organically-farmed Braucol grapes, the local Gaillac name for the Fer Servadou grape. The word “braucol” derives from the root “brau” which in Girondin patois signifies taureau, the bull.
Spontaneously-fermented with wild yeasts and left unfiltered to display its full spicy, woodsy aromas with notes of currant and rhubarb. This medium-bodied rustic red with balanced acidity and tannin structure is an extreme value just by virtue of coming from the severely undervalued vineyards of Sud-Ouest France. A great wine for autumnal dinners, including savory and spicy dishes like smoked pork belly or Korean barbecue.
Type: RED WINE | Variety: JURANÇON NOIR | Additional info: Organic, unfiltered/unfined, indigenous yeast, unfiltered, minimal SO2
Sunny Gaillac, cooled by Mediterranean breezes, is perhaps the only place the local varietal called Jurançon Noir can properly ripen. A cross between Folle Blanche and Côt (AKA Malbec), it’s a rambunctious vine, sensitive to temperature and requiring strident pruning.
The grapes are whole-cluster, semi-carbonic fermented in concrete tanks with native yeasts. The wine is bottled young and sealed with a crown cap. It’s an inky-hued, spicy, slightly bitter wine with a perfume of dried purple flowers and wet earth, along with a gentle minerality that makes this an ideal chilled red wine. This is a unique treasure of this region.