DOMAINE DES MIQUETTES, Paul Estève & Chrystelle Vareille, Saint-Joseph
We are delighted to recommend the wonderful wines of Domaine des Miquettes in the northern Rhône. These are oh-so-pure and articulate expressions of Syrah, realised by organic farming on poor granitic soils, low yields and natural winemaking in terracotta amphorae.
Domaine des Miquettes was created by Paul Estève and Chrystelle Vareille in 2003 in the small village of Cheminas, located on the high plateau above Tournon and Secheras, in the southern part of the Saint-Joseph appellation. Paul and Chrystelle took over the farm from Paul’s family and turned one of the small farm buildings into a cramped and low-tech wine-making facility. In total, the domaine consists of five hectares. They have planted one hectare of Syrah and one of Viognier on their own property and also have three hectares in Saint-Joseph with 2.6 planted to Syrah and .4h planted to Marsanne. The Saint-Joseph vineyard is located in the high hills above Secheras at an altitude of around 350-450 metres, planted on a steep hillside with soils of granite mixed with mica schist.
The vineyard rows are worked throughout the year with either a tractor or horse-drawn plough, which is used on the more difficult terrains. All harvesting is done by hand and the fermentations occur with natural yeasts and little or no temperature adjustments. Since 2014 Paul has made both his red Saint-Josephs in terracotta clay as well. These are tinajas, imported from Spain, but they are buried in the Georgian-style in a sand-filled pit near the domaine.
The wines tend to ferment over a period of three weeks with a couple of hand punchdowns. The lid is then removed and the wine is transferred into a clean vessel, where it lies undisturbed for a further twelve months.
Paul is another grower who has been bitten by the Georgian bug. I have a hazy memory of him being pulled out of a qvevri on a trip to Georgia so he has immersed himself in the most literal sense in their wines.
All the wines are sans soufre. Paul planted the Madloba vineyard 13 years ago and chose an old clone of Syrah, selection massale. Paul is another grower who has been bitten by the Georgian bug – I have a hazy memory of him being pulled out of a qvevri on a trip to Georgia so he has immersed himself in the most literal sense in their wines. Madloba (the name of one of his cuvees) means thanks in Georgian.
The Syrah has the legend: Biou un canou que te fera dé be. (Drink a glass and it will do you good.)
2014 Saint-Joseph Rouge “Madloba”
Black Mica granite and Gneiss with Mica Schist.
Fermented and aged in terracotta amphora
No sulphur added
The nose reveals a beautiful expression of pepper, spice, violet and a hint of smoky minerality. The palate has bitter cherry and boysenberry flavours with very good energy and depth, and a spine of acidity adds focus and structure. Fine-grained tannins are present, adding shape to the appealingly sweet, lingering berry flavours.
2017 Saint-Joseph Rouge
Three weeks fermentation in amphora
Aged six months
No sulphur added
Fresh and youthful with cool fruit and touches of blackberries, juniper, olives, and floral scents. Nicely rich and juicy with sublime fruit, good length and a firm and dry finish.
2017 Syrah, IGP d’Ardèche
South-facing vines in commune called Etables, close by village of Cheminas, at an altitude of 400 metres above sea level
Whole bunch fermented
Amphora fermented and aged
No sulphur added
Great acidity and freshness. This Syrah has black fruit notes of blackberry and cherry. The nose is very aromatic with aromas of eucalyptus.
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