Chateau de Rieux, an estate and a real chateau in the middle of Rieux, can be traced in Emmanuel de Soos's family since 4 or 5 generations, as far as 1866 . He and his wife own now only an aisle of the chateau, and their house is next to it, along with the chai and cellar . [ Chateau Rieux , Phone 33(0)4 68 78 33 66 Fax 33(0)4 68 78 37 21 firstname.lastname@example.org]
Altogether, they work on 34 hectares . Average yields are 30 hectoliter/hectare . Don't use any chemicals in the vineyard, only organic ones . Short pruning .
We will taste the wines and visit the cellar today , and see some of the vineyards tomorrow morning . We enter the chai, a big cool building built in the beginning of the 20th century . Casks, vats, including big concrete ones that are mostly unused anymore, relics of the high productivity era . One of these can contain 532 hectoliters ! We visit the attic over the chai, wich allows access over the vats . A few antics covered with dust lay in a dark corner [ see picture below ] Things on the right of the pic are "échaudeuses", and were the metal boilers used in the vineyard a century ago to scald the vineroots, to keep the diseases away .
We go back to ground level , in the chai/cellar, and Emmanuel de Soos serves us wine from casks, vats and bottles, to let us know the domaine's wines :
__1 White . Viognier 2004 [ picture of the glass. Note tha B. was lucky to have her gloves, as it was so cold...] . Nice turbid colour . From a cask . Will be labelled as "Vin de Pays d'Oc" . 7800 bottles a year . Will be bottled in a week or so . Spent 8 months in casks . Received no yeast addition . Not very aromatic nor demonstrative, but that is what he looks for : Make wine as natural as possible . What we taste here comes from a cask and will be assembled with the vat part . This Viognier was planted in 1997 .
__2 White . "Les Vendanges du Docteur Rougié" 22-08-2003 ( the exact date of the harvest, wich is the name of the wine ) . Viognier . Vin de Pays d'Oc . Very light filtration when bottling . Nose very present . Very aromatic in the mouth . Nice clear colour .Euro 7,75 a bottle .
__3 Red . "Les Vendanges du Docteur Rougié" 16-09-2003 . Cinsault . Vin de Pays d'Oc . 100% destemmed . Some punching of the cap, and some demestage ( some sort of elaborate hilling up ) . Nose very fruity . Clay-limestone soil in general . 14,5° .
__4 Red . 30-09-2003 . Grenache . 14,5° . Bottled 2 months ago . Nice feeling in the mouth . Some morello cherry . Euro 7,6 .
__5 Red . Chateau de Rieux 2002. Minervois . Syrah-Grenache . 14° . Euro 10 . Very nice . Too bad we taste it a little cold . My hands can't warm the glass any more . Aromatic complexity . Always hand harvested with manual sorting on the spot .
__6 Red . Chateau de Rieux 2003 . Minervois . Same, but 2003, from a vat . Not bottled yet . Things are a little late because of the cold temperatures . Very concentrated . 2003 is an atypical year, here too .
We leave our host to drive to our Bed & Breakfast, a nicely restored "maison de maitre" in the next village, La Redorte, also located on the D11 road . As it is next to a small supermarket, we first buy some food for the next day's lunch . It is already dark and temperature is below freezing when we ring at the B&B . Exhausted . We just leave our bags in the room and drive again to have dinner in nearby village Olonzac .
Early in the morning , we get back to Rieux , as Emmanuel de Soos promised to drive us both in some of his vineyard plots . First one we see , near Rieux , is named "Madrenes", with 50 years old Cinsault . As we walked among the rows [ picture ] , he explains the work . Plowed twice a year . Vine shoots crushed on the spot . Goblet, with adaptation to mechanical harvest, for this plot . Second plot we stop at is also an old Cinsault one , with view far away on the minervois hills . The region is moderately hilly, with typical mediteranean landscape . On his advice , we will drive a little north of here to Minerve , to see how the village that gave its name to this wine region looks like . It happens to be very scenic [ Picture below ], with a nice little bridge over the canyoned river . Sleepy village at this season , but with many B&B in its old narrow streets .