Domaine de Marcoux: masterful balance in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Domaine de Marcoux is one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticulture in France; over the years, their wines have reached a masterful balance, a purity of expression and suave energy on the palate (both the red and the rarer white) that only the greats have! We spoke with Sophie Armenier.

In an appellation with a somewhat masculine image, here is a property run by two women, sisters, Catherine and Sophie Armenier, whose family can be traced back to 1344. Their brother, who left to pursue his career in the USA in 1995, managed the current property initially, pioneering biodynamic viticulture from 1991 onwards. Sophie joined him in 1990, and now runs the winery side of the business while Catherine came along in 1995 to manage the vineyard. Catherine has now passed over the reins to her nephew Vincent Estevenin who, since his arrival in 2014, has brought new energy to the domain. The environment is his main concern, and his aim to produce the most natural wines possible.

Thirty years ago, women farming a vineyard organically was far from common. Having begun with no knowledge in winegrowing at all, perseverance was key, and after several internships at other domains, Sophie and Catherine could apply their newfound expertise to their own domain. Over the years, they have built a solid reputation for themselves and are widely respected for the quality of their wines.

The property now boasts 28 hectares, sixteen of which are dedicated to Châteauneuf red. The predominantly Grenache vines are between 50 and 100 years old. Yields are limited. The grapes macerate for between 15 days and a month depending on the vintage. The wines are raised for the most part in concrete vats, with 15% of the wine in 350-litre barrels. The wines are bottled after 18 months. In the vineyards, the work is just as exacting. The entire estate has been tended biodynamically since 1991; the climate of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a combination of wind and sun, guarantees the good health of the vines.

What the guides say about Domaine de Marcoux

The Revue du vin de France’s Guide Vert

Domaine de Marcoux has arrived at the top tier of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. […] The wines possess rare depth and purity, with energy and power on the palate and a complete absence of artifice imparted by élevage.

Bettane+Desseauve 2019 – 3*/5

The Armenier sisters are reference points for Châteauneuf. They tend their vines attentively and biodynamically.

Wines from Domaine de Marcoux currently for sale on iDealwine

Lirac Marcoux (Domaine de) Famille Armenier 2017

The grapes in this Lirac red are cultivated organically and biodynamically, harvested by hand, screened meticulously and cold soaked before fermentation. The property has adopted a similar winemaking process as for Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with maturation for one year in concrete tanks and wooden barriques (pre-used). This approach makes for a complex and intensely fruity wine with ageing potential of a good 10 years.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Marcoux (Domaine de) Famille Armenier 2017

The domain’s white wine is blended from two parcels, one from Roussane and the other from Bourboulenc. Harvesting is done manually in 50-kilo crates, taking care not to ruin the grapes. The harvest is cooled to facilitate débourbage, and before starting alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is not done and ageing is done on the fine lees for seven months.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Marcoux (Domaine de) Vieilles Vignes Famille Armenier

This Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from a blend of several plots that each have their own identity: the Bois de la Ville and les Serres provide very concentrated juice, Farguerol and Cansaud provide extreme aromatic richness thanks to the red clay and finally the chalk-rich soils of Cabrières and Revès give incredible structure to the wine. On the nose, red fruit prevail accompanied by a slight woodiness. On the palate, the tannins are melted and elegant. The length is exceptional and over time the aromas of sous-bois, leather or tobacco can evolve.

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