A collective and friendly project
The Domaine Les Combes Cachées is the result of a collective project that took shape in 2015. The adventure of three friends for over thirty years, originating from the same village of the Lauragais east of Toulouse, Fourquevaux, and passionate about wine. Once their children raised and their professional careers well engaged, they decide to embark on the adventure of creating a new winery. Michel and Xavier prospect in 2014 for more than a year in their Languedoc terroirs of predilection: Cabardès and Minervois in search of a vineyard.
During their investigations in 2014, they meet David, the flying wine maker/ flying oenologist from Pennautier, at the gates of Carcassonne, and Thomas, winegrower in the Anjou region … David provides his wine advice mainly to foreign vineyards, but is in love with the terroirs of Minervois. As he identifies the opportunity of the Combes Cachées vineyard and its exceptional terroirs, he proposes to provide advice and support for the project’s realization. François will yield to the contagious enthusiasm of his two Toulouse friends, and joins the project just before the acquisition. Few months later, Thomas joins the team at the end of the 2015 harvest to ensure the exploitation of the estate.
But it is also a whole friendly and family network which has set in motion around the project: family, children, friends … without forgetting the benevolent and friendly support of our new friends
vignerons, of which especially Christian Mignard, Château Mignan, without which we would not have been able to drive our first harvest and winemaking.
A domain with exceptional and very diversified terroirs, with a great variety of grape types The adventure of Domaine Les Combes Cachées began in 2015 with 7,9 hectares of vines planted in very beautiful terroirs, varied. It was subsequently expanded in 2016 with the acquisition of 4 hectares of additional plots near the first ones and in new areas, all in high quality terroirs. The exploitation is made up of 12 hectares distributed in no less than 18 parcel groups spread over an area of 10 km NS and 10 km EO on the communes of La Livinière and Siran, in the heart of the Minervois La Livinière appellation, one of the flagship appellations of Languedoc. The tour of all our plots is 50 km, take 3 to 4 hours to take the time to visit them properly.
The great diversity of plots gives Domaine Les Combes Cachées a very rich variety of terroirs and grape varieties, these 18 parcel groups being divided into four distinct types of terroirs:
- The parcels of Petit-Causse: terroirs north of La Livinière: exceptional terroirs on the slopes of the Montagne Noire, close to Minerve in the heart of the Petit-Causse, the “combes” plots (small valley in a higher relief) of the Causse Est (Combe Violon, Combe Marie, Combe Qu’Espilho), islands of vineyards hidden in the middle of the garrigue, far from the motor roads and of any dwelling … These plots are planted with the traditional vines of the Minervois: black Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan for red grape varieties, and Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne for the white grape varieties, without forgetting two rare parcels of Malbec and Pinot.
- The plots of Siran: near the village of Siran, in the heart of the vineyard of La Livinière, these plots are mainly planted with Syrah, black Grenache and Carignan (two parcels planted in 1934). An original plot of Viognier, a white grape variety particularly adapted to the terroir, completes this group.
- The plots of the South of La Livinière: around the château de Gourgazaud, the plots of the south of the estate benefit from clay-limestone soils suitable for Grenache and Syrah. This is where we planted in 2016 an additional hectare of Grenache Noir on the beautiful terroir of Sens Sel.
- The plots of Fournes and the curiosity of Lauriole (known as the road “which goes down while going up at the same time”), magnificent terroirs of broad clay-limestone combes, beautifully exposed and protected from the winds with Grenache-Noir, Cinsault, Lledoner Pelut (a local ancient variety of Grenache Noir) and Syrah.
The quality and the great diversity of terroirs offers the Domaine a great qualitative potential and variety of wines. Conducted since the beginning in organic mode, but without going through the certification administrative steps, Domaine Les Combes Cachées is now officially in the process of organic conversion controlled by Ecocert.
Who we are ?
Xavier is a cereal farmer in the Lauragais, East of Toulouse, another magnificent region. Attached to the rural world, its landscapes and its people, and fully committed, he has long occupied local elective and associative functions, before being now involved nationally and internationally in the movement of Rural Family Houses.
In addition to the passion for wine and terroirs, Les Combes Cachées is the opportunity for him to transform and market his product in an ecological and responsible way, in a friendly and team spirit. He is very present in the field, in the vineyards and cellars, alongside Thomas and David.
His practical knowledge and his strong knowledge of the agricultural world enable him to get involved on a daily basis in the field, in order to steer the concrete and practical aspects of the exploitation.
Michel is passionate about wine and everything that goes with it: geography, landscapes, terroirs, grape varieties, men and women who make it … For a long time, he dreamed of embarking on this unknown world and passing from reviews and books, specialized tours, visits of vineyards and meetings of winemakers to the reality lived from the inside, to the concretization of the project with Xavier and Les Combes Cachées …
Educated as a geographer, for him Les Combes Cachées is an opportunity to move from theory to practice, after more than thirty years of international career dedicated to the trades of geography and the environment, exclusively to distant export markets, leading to setup projects and travel to nearly a hundred different countries … Les Combes Cachées is also for him a landing ground, an opportunity to live nearer to his homeland.
Like Xavier and François, Michel has been implanted since the last century in the Lauragais, East of Toulouse, a region to which he is also deeply attached.
Francois, slightly younger than his two companions, whatever he may say, has fallen into agronomy because of his studies since he is an agricultural engineer. Les Combes Cachées is also for him the means of moving from theory to practice, to see if this theory learned 25 years ago has been well assimilated.
He has held various positions in the trades related to geography and the environment, before becoming an entrepreneur in the aeronautical field. Involved in the associative world, he is now the mayor of his commune of Lauragais, Fourquevaux, East of Toulouse, the one where his two winery partners live.
As a wine and land lover, he was unable to resist the appeal of his two friends’ adventure around the exciting project of Les Combes Cachées.
David, ENITA engineer and graduate in oenology from Reims, is the most qualified of the team on the wine-making techniques. He also ensures the prestigious functions of “flying wine maker”, or flying oenologist, providing oenological advice and follow-up to viticultural farms in various regions of the world: from South Africa to the United States, India, Lebanon and Malta, not to mention France.
The encounter with Michel and Xavier led to the emergence of a common vision for the search for exceptional terroirs in the Minervois, a vineyard with an important potential for development, and the will to produce reasonably high-quality wines in small quantities.
David has combined his efforts with those of Michel and Xavier to identify the magnificent terroirs of what would become Les Combes Cachées, and to provide assistance and advice during the many phases of setting up the winery so that this project can become a reality.
It is naturally the oenologist of the Domaine, with an original vision, always searching, without compromise, harvesting at the optimum dates, choosing wine-making methods and assemblages (blends) allowing the optimal expression of grape varieties and terroirs, seeking maturity and finesse.
In spite of his numerous functions and calls for his skills, David is never very far from the vineyards and wine-making practices, of which he understands all the importance at every step.
Thomas is the youngest on the team. Originally from Picardy, he discovered a passion for vines and wines to the point of deciding to make a career there. He worked in the prestigious vineyards of the west of France of the Coteaux du Layon and Bonnezeaux, in the south of Angers, in the preferred terroir of Chenin and the great sweet wines. He is a graduate of a BTS Viti-Oeno, after training at the Maison Familiale Rurale in Vayre, near Libourne.
The arrival of Thomas in the team of Les Combes Cachées is not the result of chance, but that of a meeting with Xavier and Michel during his training. The frank and cordial exchanges allowed these three to share a great desire for joint project and collaboration. The discovery of the magic terroirs of Les Combes Cachées, confirmed the total commitment of Thomas in the project, which, once the Bonnezeaux harvest finished, did not hesitate to move to come and settle in the south.
Since then, he brings his skills, his steadfast passion and his constant energy, in the everyday exploitation of the estate, from viticultural operations to the winemaking with a quasi-permanent good humor. His Swiss- knife side will certainly allow him to play a much wider register …