Family is important for French winemakers. So, there is nothing particularly unusual about the inter-generational set-up at Domaine La Ligière in the Beaumes de Venise area of the Rhone Valley. What is exciting is the change that has taken place in the past decade. That’s how long it is since Philippe Bernard (pictured) and his wife Elizabeth Serra started using their own grapes to make a wine that has evolved into something we think is a little special.
Domaine La Ligière sits on the slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains which protect it from being buffeted by the Mistral, a local wind that folklore claims drives people mad. It contributes to Provence’s reliably sunny weather and clear air that plays a big part in the quality of the wine. Domaine La Ligière has been growing grapes since the 19th century. Until the 1950s, production spanned various fruit and vegetables. Then, when Maurice Bernard – Philippe’s grandfather – took over, the focus switched to the vines. The next generation saw Jacques, Maurice’s only son, expand the vineyard to 50 hectares. He and his wife Liliane worked with the local co-operative, helping to make wines that carry the prestigious Vacqueyras, Beaumes de Venise and Gigondas labels.
But the progress of the domaine really only gathered pace after Philippe, the fifth generation of Bernard winemakers, assumed control in 2008. Instead of working as part of the co-operative, he and Elizabeth created their own winery and set out to secure biological certification. The vineyard is planted with Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre vines and is now biodynamic and organic. All of the grapes are harvested by hand and are fermented in temperature-controlled tanks using only natural yeasts. The vines are cultivated without applying any fertiliser, weed killer or chemicals. Organic compost helps the process and only natural products and biodynamic additions are used. The wine is bottled without any fining or filtration.
We have chosen four wines from the current range, and we believe they offer a unique glimpse into the quality of the produce from the area and the skills of the winemakers. White wine is rare in the region, accounting for only 3% of production. However, one excellent example is Vacqueyras Chemin-Blanc, which is made using four grape varieties, with Clairette and Roussanne accounting for 75% and the remainder a mix of Grenache Blanc and Viognier. They combine to deliver a rich wine that has hints of peach, honey and vanilla. It is perfect with fish or chicken, or as an aperitif. Predominantly Grenache, but with important contributions from Syrah and Mourvèdre, the Vacqueyras Le Mourre de la Caille Rouge is typical of the balanced wines for which Vacqueyras is renowned. There is a hint of spice and freshness, with gentle tannins. We think that Gigondas les Bergines rouge is typical of the structured southern Rhone wines. Made with 70% Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre, this is a big, powerful red that is a great accompaniment for rich food. Cotes du Rhone Les Costebelles is a fruity red combining Grenache and Syrah grapes. It has a light, fresh finish that makes it an ideal partner for almost any food.
We’re excited to have added Domaine La Ligière to our list of wines, and we’re sure they will prove popular. As an encouragement to give them a try, we’re offering a 10% discount on all orders.