A parcel of vines close to 200 years old in the Saint Mont appellation, South West France has become the first vineyard in France to be officially recognised as a protected historic landmark by the French government run Regional and Heritage Sites Commission of the Midi-Pyrénées (CRPS).
Situated in the village of Sarragachies in the Gers department, this unique parcel of vines of just 1/2 acre was listed due to its “exceptional character and cultivation methods over the past century”. The vineyard benefits from a sandy sub-soil which has enabled it to resist Phylloxera, the insect that decimated entire wine regions around Europe in the late nineteenth century.
For generations, the owners have passionately protected this vineyard using traditional viticultural methods such as double vine-stock planting where two vine-stocks are planted together in a square layout rather than traditional rows. These methods have all but disappeared in modern winemaking.
Showing the biodiversity of the region’s vineyard, this plot contains around 20 individual different grape varieites, including seven unidentified to date by leading viticulture and ampelographic experts such as Jean-Michel Boursiquot, Thierry Lacombe and Olivier Yobrégat.
This recognition, a first in France, is the culmination of a longstanding commitment by Plaimont Producteurs and their desire to not only preserve the heritage of these historical vineyards but to guarantee the future of these appellations from the Pyrenean foothills.
Commenting on this recognition, Oliver Bourdet-Pees, Managing Director for Plaimont said “We are absolutely delighted to gain such a prestigious recognition. It is in this region that a great number of grape varieties used in the South-West and Atlantic coast were born, such as Cabernet Sauvignon” he explains. “Some varietals in this ancient vineyard have been completely forgotten and we are still carrying out tests to determine what they are.” Bourdet-Pees adds.
Plaimont Producteurs are actively involved in ampelography (the study of vines and grapes) and set up the Conservatory of Saint Mont in 2002, where they have saved many grapes from extinction, including Pinenc, Petit Courbu and Arrufiac, which are now used in the majority of the company’s wines.
In 2010, Olivier Bourdet-Pees and Plaimont founder André Dubosc held the inaugural Ampelographic seminar in Saint Mont to highlight the studies and the 60 unique, lesser-known grape varieties, synonymous with the South-West of France.