From the heights of its sloping terraces, this Roussillon domain practices a bold and forward-thinking approach to viticulture. The property is run organically with biodynamic-inspired methods, too. A whole range of grape varieties, both traditional and more unusual, make for a range of surprising treasures.
Onwards and upwards
It was in the 1990s that Gérard Gauby, Roy Richards, and Mark Walford decided to take up the terroir in the heights of the Pyrenees, and they couldn’t have been a better team! Richards and Walford were both specialists in French wine trading, and Gauby was running one of the southern region’s most impressive rising stars: Domaine Gauby, an estate you might well have heard of. Their first wines were born in an ageing house in a mountain-dwelling village. A picturesque location for a winery producing pure cuvées with incomparable finesse.
Bolstered by its growing success, the project reached another level in 2008, as not only did the winery grow, but so did the team! Gérald Standley, who had gained all his wine experience in the classical cellars of Bordeaux, came to support Gauby at the estate.
2012 was also a turning point for Le Soula, as Mark Walford took over the all-important sales side of the domain, with Wendy Wilson joining two years later to manage the vineyard. The latter has a wealth of eclectic experiences that take us all over the world: her interest in wine was sparked in South Africa, her home country, and she went on to explore the vineyards of the US and then France. Such a range of influence could only add to the depth of the winery’s produce.
The vineyards at Le Soula thrive on 22 hectares of granite-rich soil on top of black schist sub-soil. They’re 45 years old on average, although the oldest ones were planted in 1919!
Growing on abrupt slopes, these vines enjoy a cool climate influenced both by the Mediterranean from the plains and by the Pyrenees mountains. Le Fenouillèdes is a basin found between Catalonia and Occitanie, a location that plays a decisive role in the expression of this wine. Exposed to the south, the sloping vineyards are referred to as ‘adret’ in French, and ‘Soula’ or ‘Soulane’ in Occitan.
The domain cultivates a whole palette of grape varieties, each of them well adapted to Le Sola’s lofty location. Mild summer nights combined with the altitude of the vineyards ensure optimal ripeness for the fruit and bring a refreshing underscore to the resulting wine.
In terms of the white cuvées, beyond the traditional Roussillon varieties like Macabeu, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Malvoisie, here we also find some unexpected guests like Sauvignon, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Vermentino! As for the reds, these are planted on cooler ground, with Syrah grapes cultivated alongside the more traditional Carignan and Grenache Noir.