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through our wines

“Our work as vignerons is about doing everything in our power to ensure our range of wines is the greatest expression of the singularity and character of each one of our terroirs.”

Grains de raisins, table de tri domaine de l'Hortus

A well-defined range

Amid the same cool, humid Mediterranean climate, on the limestone geological substrate, there lies a broad and diverse tapestry of terroirs, as the vegetation and fauna around the vineyard bear witness.

Barriques dans le chai au domaine de l'Hortus

Our cuvées

Domaine de l’Hortus

Domaine de l’Hortus red

This wine is made from grapes split across two plots sharing similar soil-types, yet where the climate, inextricably linked to the site, could not be more different. The first lies at the base of the southern cliff face of Hortus and the second at the northern base of Pic Saint-Loup. In both cases, the soils are formed on the scree slopes of limestone shards, from ‘fossil’ soils rich in iron oxide dating back to the hot, interglacial Quaternary period. Deep and well-drained, they allow the roots to penetrate deep into the soils, ensuring the vines cope well with water excess or deficit. These are ideal conditions for the grapes to reach optimum ripeness.

On the south-facing site, the Mediterranean climate magnifies the characteristics of the terroir, where the soils heat rapidly in spring and retain their heat late into the season. Evergreen oak, kermes oak, cade juniper, mastic, wild asparagus, smilax, thyme and broom occupy the banks that separate the terraced vineyards, where the jewelled lizard makes its home. Here the mesoclimate and soils are particularly suited to Mourvèdre. In contrast, along the northern slope of Pic Saint-Loup, with its more temperate climate, the terroir enjoys all the benefits of increased humidity in the surface soils and more moderate sun exposure. Here the days are shorter in winter and very long in summer. Although relatively close in distance to the other site, this is distinctly Mediterranean, semi-mountainous territory. This is the realm of the downy oak, the Montpellier maple, cade, box and holly, where the eagle owl comes to nest. Syrah thrives in these conditions and yields spectacular wines.

Domaine de l’Hortus

Domaine de l’Hortus white

At the base of the valley floor, a ‘river’, or wash, may sometimes flow. In times of heavy rainfall in the autumn, this shallow stream channel can carry large quantities of water and alluvial deposits. Over the centuries, the meandering water flow has carved hollows at its edges, giving rise to small plots where the bedrock is composed of sand, gravel and pebbles basically rolled over a marl substrate.

This is late-ripening territory, where the light-coloured soils retain little heat during the day, giving rise to marked variations in day and night temperatures. Majestic white oak trees dominate the edge of the wash, together with terebinth, wild fennel, gladioli, savory and orchids. White grape varieties flourish in these conditions, namely Chardonnay on the noticeably cooler plots, while Viognier, Roussanne, Sauvignon Gris and Petit Manseng are judiciously planted and matched to the climate and soil-type.

Expression through our wines
Expression through our wines
Expression through our wines
Bergerie de l’Hortus
Bouteille Bergerie de l'Hortus 2020

Bergerie de l’Hortus red

Geologically speaking, the land consists of hard and soft limestone formed in the depths of the seas during the Cretaceous period, then lifted during the Pyrenean and Alpine fold system to form alternating, 100 metre deep layers. The hard limestone forming the cliffs, the Hortus plateaux and the crest of Pic Saint-Loup, dominates the landscape. At their base, the soils are composed of scree formed during the last glacial period, while lower down, the gentle slopes expose softer, limestone outcrops.

The soils formed from this substrate dry relatively quickly during the summer. Aleppo pine trees clearly dominate the forests surrounding the vines, intermingled with green oak tree groves, viburnum tinus, rosemary, cade and native grass (Mediterranean false brome). The bedrock tends to vary from plot to plot, and the soil-type morphs from red soils overlying limestone fissures, where Syrah finds its home, to brown soils over pure marl, which is more suited to Grenache. When it comes to vinifying our wines, we favour gentle extraction and cultivate the fruit in the pursuit of wines intending to be enjoyed within five years, so much less age-worthy than Domaine de l’Hortus Grande Cuvée red.

Bergerie de l’Hortus
Bouteille Bergerie de l'Hortus blanc 2020

Bergerie de l’Hortus white

Further down the slope, our ‘river’ and its tributaries flow east before heading south. Over the course of centuries and millennia, the wash has spread fine alluvial deposits in its wake, creating small, relatively fertile plains at the edges. These terroirs are lower than the plots assigned to Bergerie de l’Hortus red and are located on the fringes of the intermittent water amid a lush, riparian forest comprising white poplars, ash, plane trees and bamboo. It is not unusual here to spy a heron on the hunt for frogs.

The cool climate and deep soils, with their well-balanced, clay-rich texture, ensure the vines have access to sufficient water during the summer months. This is a temperate Mediterranean climate, suited to white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Gris, Chardonnay and Petit Manseng, where the grapes draw inspiration from the exceptional terroir.

Bergerie de l’Hortus
Bouteille Bergerie de l'Hortus Rosé 2020

Bergerie de l’Hortus rosé

Our rosé wines are produced from a few parcels of red grapes, where the natural characteristics, the climate and soils represent the transition between Bergerie de l’Hortus red and white wines. The soils here are marginally too fertile for the red, and not quite cool enough for the white. Syrah and Grenache are grown on these parcels.

Expression through our wines
Expression through our wines
Expression through our wines
Le Dit de l’Hortus
Packshot la Soulane 2023 domaine de l'Hortus

Le Dit de l’Hortus red LIEU-DIT LA SOULANE

On the plot of land at the base of the south-facing cliff face of Hortus, 8 hectares of Mourvèdre vines are seen to flourish. The vines are cultivated on no less than four levels of terracing and reveal a true gem of a wine. Here at the mid-slope point, the fruit quality transcends the remarkable to the extraordinary. Only several hundred cases, the equivalent of twenty hectolitres, are produced on this plot. Here the grapes are of the utmost quality standards, and the wine is released only in the most exceptional vintage years.

Le Dit de l’Hortus
Packshot l'Ombrée 2029 domaine de l'Hortus

Le Dit de l’Hortus RED LIEU-DIT L’OMBREE

On the plot of land nestling at the foot of the northern face of Pic Saint-Loup, 15 hectares of Syrah vines take the stage. Here the vines thrive on five levels of terracing to yield a jewel of a wine. The fruit grown at the mid-point of the slope is of sublime quality and produces only a limited quantity of wine, equating to around two hundred cases (20hl). The grapes are treated with meticulous care to assure the utmost quality standards, and the wine is released only in the most exceptional vintage years.

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