New from the Languedoc
Introducing Les Eminades
by Anthony Lynch
For Patricia and Luc Bettoni, the journey to becoming proprietors of a domaine in the rural hills of the Saint-Chinian appellation took many years, much resourcefulness, and a bit of serendipity. “We started with nothing—just a lot of courage,” says Luc, who counts no vignerons in his immediate family despite growing up around the vineyards of Madiran, deep in France’s southwest. For Patricia, the path to becoming a vigneronne was just as unlikely. It began when she met Luc at a wine-tasting-themed party put on by enology students while she studied pharmacology in Toulouse. Luc had taken a keen interest in enology after earning a degree in microbiology and interning in an enological laboratory in Madiran. The couple’s chance encounter led Patricia to develop a whole new passion.
Later on, while employed as the enologist for a Languedoc domaine, Luc expressed to Patricia his desire to make his own wine. “It didn’t take much to convince me to embark on this adventure with him,” she recalls warmly. The search for a great terroir where they could put down roots—despite having no savings—ultimately led them to Saint-Chinian, where they were struck by the wild beauty of the landscape and its rich diversity of soils.
In 2002, they purchased twelve hectares of vines, primarily in limestone-rich sites where the grapes would retain good acidity levels despite the baking Mediterranean climate. The land was mostly overgrown, and they worked hard to clear it and bring the vineyards up to shape. The young vignerons replanted five hectares at higher density to better shade the fruit and prevent soil evaporation. They gradually added plots over the years, including some very old plantings, seeking out vineyards at higher elevation where grapes ripen later, to preserve freshness and balance. Patricia and Luc now farm thirty small parcels across three communes. Their soils include quartz- and iron-rich sandstones, rocky alluvial deposits, and various limestones, while exposures range from south-facing––with the sea visible in the distance––to cooler north-facing sites.
The Bettonis’ vineyards have never come into contact with herbicides, and Luc abandoned chemical treatments early on because the products made him ill. They obtained organic certification in 2008 and then, realizing their farming nearly qualified as biodynamic, completed that conversion ten years later.
Winemaking at Les Eminades is gentle and straightforward, with the goal of expressing the nuances found within Saint-Chinian’s fascinating diversity of terroirs through the lens of traditional Languedoc-ien cépages such as Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Fermentations in their small cellar occur spontaneously, and sulfur doses are kept very low to achieve a seductive aromatic and textural quality in the wines. Their distinct cuvées yield a range of expressions of this tremendously undervalued appellation, yet they share a striking purity of fruit, intoxicating aromatics, and suave tannins rarely seen this far south.
The thoughtful vigneron couple that makes up Les Eminades simply has great touch—just what we look for in every one of our selections. The very first shipment of their wines has just arrived, and we are thrilled for you to make their acquaintance.
2021 Saint-Chinian Rouge “La Pierre Plantée”
Equal parts Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, aged entirely in concrete. A model of lightness and drinkability for southern reds!
2021 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Cebenna”
Made from a majority of Grenache and vinified with a good portion of whole clusters. Generous and floral, with fragrant hints of lavender, purple fruit, and brambly garrigue. Exquisitely supple tannins.
2020 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Sortilège”
Mainly Mourvèdre from the domaine’s highest-elevation sites, on a soil of pure limestone. Full of freshness and detailed elegance, with not a hint of rusticity.