Domaine Rimbert

Epicurean Countryside

Quick facts:

Location: the village of Berlou, Saint Chinian, Southern France

Owner & winemaker: Jean-Marie Rimbert

Vineyard area: 24 hectares (= 59 acres), estate-owned + purchasing grapes

Vineyard management: certified organic (Ecocert) for the domaine wines, HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale – sustainable) on the purchased grapes

Soils: schist (20ha), limestone (4ha)

Main varieties: Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache

Annual production (approx.): 80,000 bottles domaine, 60,000 négoce


Fun facts:

  • Jean-Marie is originally from Provence, where his family had a mixed farm and instilled in him a deep connection to the the soil
  • After 15 years of making wine at various estates, he started his own eponymous domaine in 1996, practically at the same time that his son Marceau was born; the first red wine is named after him.
  • The wines are renowned for offering a pleasurable experience, more on the fruit and freshness than spice and power, a balance that Jean-Marie achieves by only gentle extraction of the grapes
  • Domaine Rimbert is one of the original estates Jenny started to work with at the very beginning of the company in the early 2000s

Jump to wines | Domaine Rimbert Website

 

Jean-Marie Rimbert was born at a mixed family farm in Provence and trained not as a winemaker, but as a general agriculturalist (“the vine is basically a small fruit tree, isn’t it?” he jokes). Even after 40 years of making wine, he still proudly calls himself a paysan – a peasant, man of the countryside, and his down-to-earth farmer side also shows in his philosophy. The estate’s vineyards have been managed organically since 2003 (certified 10 years later) – not primarily for the wine’s quality, he says, but rather because “I want to cultivate in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. I’m in it for the long term.” 

He bought the estate in Berlou, a small village in the Saint Chinian area, back in 1996, and it was a rocky start thanks to the fact that his son Marceau was born at the beginning of the harvest, their very first at their own domaine. “I seriously don’t remember how we managed back then. My brain goes blank when thinking about this period,” Rimbert shakes his head when trying to recall the launch. What he does know is that he was seduced by the village’s unique schist soils and steep slopes (so unique that they give the village the right to its own AOC, the Saint Chinian Villages Berlou). “I like the fine notes of dried rose petals that schist gives to wines,” he confirms, “and I insist on cultivating vines on the hillsides, as it yields wines that are more pleasurable, lower in alcohol, and easy to digest.

Rimbert’s wines indeed sport an irresistible fruity character. Both the Travers de Marceau, the domaine’s first red wine named after Rimbert’s son Marceau born during those challenging beginnings, and its more robust, “serious” Mas au Schiste sibling (the name is a double entendre on the soils and the French pronunciation of the word “masochist”) offer freshness and elegance that you don’t always find in the sun-drenched Mediterranean. This easygoing style is even further showcased in Cousin Oscar, a light red made of Cinsault and Pinot Noir grapes that is hyper-popular for both its easy-drinking character and vintage-looking label. Jean-Marie made the collage himself (“just took some scissors and old posters”); the phrase “on se l’arrache” (“we’re fighting over him”), originally meant as a jibe to the eponymous relative popular with ladies, now works as a fitting comment on the wine’s success.

The secret of this succulence isn’t based on, as one might think, an early harvest (“I abhor the thought of starting vintage in August – we’re just not ready”), but in a very gentle extraction in the cellar that privileges finesse over body. The wines are then aged in tanks or old barrels, lightly fined, filtered (Jean-Marie enjoys a “cleaner” style of wine, especially in the whites and rosés), and lightly sulfured at bottling. Besides the wines made from the domaine’s own grapes, he also runs a négociant business making easy-going wines from purchased grapes farmed sustainably by nearby growers, hoping to convert them to organic in the near future. After all, he’s in it for the long term…

 

 Wines



Le Mas au Schiste:— Back to the top

Le Mas au Schiste tech sheet

This wine is an ode to Berlou’s schist soils, as the name also suggests (all while playing a double entendre with the French pronunciation of the term “masochist”). One of the domaine’s flagship cuvées, made from low-yielding vines (15 – 25 hectoliters per hectare) from selected old plots around the village, all grown organically by Jean-Marie himself.

Vineyard: Selection of different schist plots of the estate, 60 % old vines (50+ years old). 

Grapes: 25% Carignan, 50 % Syrah, 25% Grenache

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and partly destemmed, then spontaneously fermented with only gentle extraction of the cap, for two weeks. After fermentation, the wine spends about a year on lees in old oak barrels (3-13 years old). The wine undergoes slight filtration and fining and is then bottled using gravity and a little bit of sulfur.

Tasting Note: Ruby in the glass with shimmering highlights. The nose is redolent with red and black fruit scents; cherry cordial, blueberry jam, and crushed stones that are backed by a slight suggestion of black olive and hummus. The palate is elegant and generous with loads of elegant red and black fruit flavors steeped in dynamic mineral-infused cocoa tones.

Pairing: Herb encrusted roast chicken, grilled steak, grilled lamb chops.


Les Travers de Marceau:— Back to the top

Les Travers de Marceau tech sheet

The domaine’s first red wine named after Rimbert’s son Marceau, born during the very first harvest at the new estate. Challenging beginnings, great results: this wine is what Jean-Marie calls “the best quality-price-pleasure ratio”, a supple and yummy wine ready for all kinds of fun as long as you chill it.

Vineyard: Selection of different schist plots of the estate, organically grown

Grapes: 15% Carignan, 50% Syrah, 15% Cinsaut, 20% Mourvèdre 

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, then spontaneously fermented with only gentle extraction of the cap. The wine ferments and ages in tanks, in order to keep its freshness, and undergoes slight filtration and fining,  before being bottled using gravity and a little bit of sulfur.

Tasting Note: Ruby in the glass with purple highlights. The nose is packed with crushed red berry, plum, blueberry and notes of saddle leather backed by crushed stones. The palate is supple as it delivers red and black fruit flavors backed by silken minerality and a deft touch of acidity.

Pairing: Serve with grilled meats, aged cheeses, hearty stews and spicy pasta dishes. Or just lightly chilled on its own .)


Petit Cochon Bronzé Rosé:— Back to the top

Petit Cochon Bronzé tech sheet

Jean-Marie makes this wine for “those who don’t have a pool” as a substitute refreshment; the label of a “Suntanned Little Pig” is his very own drawing.

Grapes: organic Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah (proportions vary according to vintage)

Vineyard: schist

Making of: The wine is made from grapes harvested at their maximum ripeness and immediately destemmed. They are gently crushed and the juice is fermented with neutral yeast at a controlled temperature. The skins are removed from the vats 36 hours after pressing, lending this rosé its beautifully intense pink color. The wine rests in stainless steel in a cellar that is half-buried into the earth so that the temperature of the winery is naturally regulated. It undergoes a light filtering and fining when bottled on site, with a small sufur addition.

Tasting Note:  This rosé is vibrant pink in the glass. Deep scents of ultra-ripe crushed red cherries, a note of guava paste, overripe fig flesh and a pretty, yet smoky note of sweet herbs, blood orange and red berry flavors.

Great on its own and with a vast array of summer dishes: spicy couscous and lamb tagine, flame grilled chicken dishes, spicy lamb or beef kebabs, sweet barbecued pork dishes.


Carignator:— Back to the top

Carignator 3 tech sheet

Age of Vines: 70 years (60%)

Yields: 25hl/ha

Pruning Method: Goblet and Royat

Soil: Schist

Varieties: 100% Carignan

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and fermented whole cluster. Only indigenous yeasts are used. The wine spends 6 months in old neutral barrels.

The Carignator parcel is a unique plot of land that undulates in several different directions. This makes the plot impossible to plow, thus it is teaming with wild grasses. In fact one worker once tried to use a tractor in the plot and was almost killed as the tractor began to topple over! When Jean-Marie acquired this plot, all his neighbors told him to rip up the vines and straighten them out, but Jean-Marie, recognizing the beauty and power of these incredibly old vines, was determined to make something of beauty from this parcel.

 


Cousin Oscar:— Back to the top

Cousin Oscar tech sheet

Cousin Oscar is a fun, summer, thirst-quenching red Jean-Marie made for fun. Its label is a combination of designs Jean-Marie put together from 50’s magazines. He named the wine after his girlfriend’s cousin (Oscar) who is apparently irresistible to the ladies.

Grapes: Cinsault (organic estate-grown), Pinot Noir (purchased sustainable grapes)

Vineyard: Limestone

Making of: the grapes are de-stemmed, crushed and undergo a gentle maceration of the grapes without remontage, for 3 days only in order to get only a very little extraction. The wine is spontaneously fermented and then aged in tanks, lightly filtered and fined, and bottled the following spring with a little addition of sulfur.

Personality: the label says it all – you’ll fight over it. Juicy light red with licence to chill.


BU END:— Back to the top

BU END tech sheet

bu_end_5.JPG copy

In 2014 Jean Marie had a little extra juice with gave him the possibility of a bit of experimentation, to make another fun, summer vin de soif along the lines of Cousin Oscar.

Soil: Schist

Varieties: 70% Cinsault, 30% Muscat


Gros Lapin— Back to the top

Total Production: 2000 bottles

Age of Vines: 50 years old

Soil: Schist

Varieties: 100% Cinsault

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand harvested, and fermented traditionally with indigenous yeast. The wine spends 12 months of elevage in 400 liter wooden tanks and is bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with a small addition of sulfur. 


Blanc Bino— Back to the top

Jean-Marie purchases these grapes from neighboring growers who farm in accordance with the HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale, ie. sustainable) chart. 

Grapes: Chardonnay

Making of: The wine is fermented at controlled temperature with the addition of neutral yeast, then aged in tanks, lightly filtered and fined, and bottled the following spring with a small addition of sulfur.


For Me— Back to the top

Jean-Marie purchases these grapes from neighboring growers who farm in accordance with the HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale, ie. sustainable) chart. 

Grapes: Merlot

Making of: The wine is fermented at controlled temperature with the addition of neutral yeast, then aged in tanks, lightly filtered and fined, and bottled the following spring with a small addition of sulfur.


Sur la Plage— Back to the top

Jean-Marie purchases these grapes from neighboring growers who farm in accordance with the HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale, ie. sustainable) chart. 

Grapes: Colombard

Making of: The wine is fermented at controlled temperature with the addition of neutral yeast, then aged in tanks, lightly filtered and fined, and bottled the following spring with a small addition of sulfur.


Ugni Glou— Back to the top

Jean-Marie purchases these grapes from neighboring growers who farm in accordance with the HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale, ie. sustainable) chart. 

Grapes: Ugni Blanc

Making of: The wine is fermented at controlled temperature with the natural yeast, then aged in tanks, lightly filtered and fined, and bottled the following spring without the addition of sulfur.