Domaine de Piaugier

Domaine de Piaugier exudes the sort of rustic French charm that you’d expect from a small family-owned winery whose owners spend more time in the vineyards looking after the small details rather than online buying new cushions for the sofas for their state-of-the-art tasting room. The winery is in the historic town of Sablet.

It consists of 30 hectares of vineyards, aged between 30 – 55 years old, which are spread over several parcels on varying soils within the Sablet, Gigondas and wider Cotes du Rhone regions. It is one of Domaine’s great assets having varying parcels of grapes from different areas which are all vinified separately to retain their unique characteristics before either being bottled on their own or carefully blended to make seriously complex and elegant wines.

The Domaine is owned and run by Jean-Marc and Sophie Autran and their daughter Maude who now farm the combined 30 hectares including the original six hectares that Jean-Marc’s great grandfather, Alphonse, worked on during WW2. It was Alphonse who built the current winery in 1947 after getting the hump with the rather steep hill upon which his original winery sat. With no Land Rover Defender and just a couple of lazy mules to transport his wine, he opted to relocate to the lower ground within easier reach of the travelling merchants. The original winery was called Tenebi which is now the name of their superb 100% Counoise which is a must-try for all wine lovers.

Sablet is a pretty, medieval town and one of the handfuls of villages that can affix its name to the Cotes du Rhone Villages appellation which is a big step up in both quality and value from the more generic Cotes du Rhone appellation. With lower yields and a distinct terroir on sandy soils, Sablet, like Gigondas and Vinsobres, should probably be an AOC, but it’s not for me to get involved in the politics of French wine law! Although the reds from Sablet are generous and full-bodied they tend to have a marked purity and underlying finesse about them which can be attributed to the sandy soils and whole bunch, destemmed fermentation. The Piaugier wines hit this spot for us with wonderful depth of varietal flavour, rich texture but freshness and elegance on the finish. The whites are equally impressive and offer wonderful value compared to Burgundy.

Domaine de Piaugier Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet ‘Tenebi’ La Counoise is a brilliantly unique wine that displays wonderful freshness and aromatics along with dark raspberry, bramble, blackberry, white pepper and mocha notes. The wine is made from 100% Counoise which is one of the permitted grapes in the production of Chateauneuf-du-pape. It is generally added to tame the high alcohol of the Grenache grape. The Counoise grapes were planted by Jean-Marc’s father in 1954 and sold to Chateau Beaucastel until 1991 when the decision was taken to bottle them separately themselves.

Counoise Spreads Its Wings

A little while back, Matt Walls from Decanter magazine got in touch because he was writing an article about Counoise. He wanted to explore the revival of one of Rhone’s lesser-known native grape varieties but also look at how it is being grown further afield. You can read his excellent article here –  Walls_ Counoise spreads its wings – Decanter   

His tasting notes of Domaine de Piaugier Tenebi can be found here – Domaine de Piaugier Ténébi Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Rhône 2020

All of the Piaugier wines are in our end-of-season SALE