The vineyard in Languedoc Pézenas
Saint-Jean de Bébian wines have great ageing potential, including the whites which lose none of their aromatic potency in the cellar. These are full, powerful wines with lots of personality.
The Bébian vineyards extend over 32ha in the foothills of the Cévennes in the Coteaux du Languedoc area classified as Cru Pézenas. They are one of the region s most invaluable assets!
They are fairly unusual in being very patchy. This is because developments over the years have only left the 43 plots with the best geological profile and exposure to the south and south-west.
The average age of the vines is 25 and the average yield is 25hl/ha, though some of the old grenache vines still in production are over 80 years old.
The varieties used for the WHITES are roussanne, clairette, grenache blanc, picpoul and bourboulenc.
The vines are planted on lake limestone soils of the Helvetian Miocene where, when the land was cleared, some splendid fossils were discovered (including huge oyster shells up to 8 inches long!) Before planting, we were surprised to find that the soils were 32% active limestone, the same proportion as the great white vineyards of Chablis, Meursault, Côtes des Blancs champenoises, etc.
For REDS, the vines are mass-selected syrah from Chave Hermitage and 2ha recently taken from Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, grenache mainly from Château Rayas in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and mourvèdre from Domaine Tempier in Bandol. The rest are 33-year-old cabernet.
They grow in dry stony ground of 3 types: Villafranchian limestone and clayey limestone, volcanic basalt and siliceous clay (white quartz pebbles and travertine/pink marble.
For ROSES, the varieties are cinsault and 45-year-old grenache from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape mass selection planted in Villafranchian gravel and pebbly soil on a clayey limestone subsoil.