Where it all started
Denys bought the estate with his parents in 1980, which was only 7km away from where he grew up. His parents’ property was too small for him to start his wine journey there. They produced wine that first year but his father, a vine grower was not at all interested in winemaking and decided to join a co-op. The desire to go the distance for Denys and Agnes, to make their own wine remained. After his parents retired and the contract with the co-op was coming to an end in 1999, it was the perfect time to launch the winery and make their very first vintage.
What makes it special - "Mas d'Espanet found white gold"
The name Espanet is very much linked to white wine. To make whites with as much freshness as we did in the late 90s ensured some notoriety and helped us find our first loyal customers. For a region known to produce 9 bottles of red for every bottle of white wine, our production is over 60% white. Denys’ passion for white wines goes back to the very beginning, he has since planted the following grape varieties (all white!): Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Gris, Chenin Blanc, Petit Manseng, Piquepoul, Riesling, Vermentino, Roussanne, Marsanne, Sauvignon Gris, and most recently Colombard and Tourbat (old grape varieties). Located at the foothills of the Cévennes mountain range, our terroir is known for its very cool nights and more rainfall than the rest of the Languedoc allowing these grape varieties to flourish and produce juices full of minerality and complexity.
At the start of our venture, we aged our wines in old 225-liter barrels, this was due to a lack of financial means while being aware that this was not the most suited approach in our region. Slowly, we purchased raw concrete tanks, Languedoc 50 hl foudres for the reds. Following a tasting at Olivier Pithon's winery, we called his Alsatian cooper to make us 2 42 hl casks we would then use to age our Eolienne cuvée. Over the years, a selection of 500- and 600-liter barrels (demi-muids) slowly became part of our artillery. And since 2015, the amphorae made its entrance…
For some time, with doubts and fears, amphorae have entered our winery. In 2014, during a trip to the Priorat in Spain, accompanied by some fellow winemakers’ friends, we had the chance to taste and visit Clos Mogador with René Barbier’s son. The time at the winery was very informative as we were able to taste the same wine aged in different vessels, one being a Spanish amphora. The following year, armed with our own 600- and 1000-liter amphorae and happy with the results, we decided to take it a step further by procuring raw amphorae with interior coating.
In 2015, a humanitarian organization from our village organized an exchange with Cretan farmers and asked Denys to speak on biodynamic farming at a conference by Pierre Rabhi. We fell in love with this country, the cradle of amphorae! In Thrapsano, a potters’ village, we met Manolis who was excited about our project and with his knowledge of the land made us some magnificent amphorae.
Native grape varieties
Climate change and global warming bring uncertainties. You have to constantly adapt and find solutions. Are the grape varieties well adapted to more heat, more drought? Could the solution be found in our old, native grape varieties? Those were abandoned for lack of color, alcoholic content, or wines deemed too light due to plantation in fertile plains with high yields. By adapting them to our hillside terroirs, they become grape varieties of the future, thanks to their vigor they will be more resistant to climatic change. Over the past 3 years, we have focused on planting the following: Cinsault, Riberenc, Grand Noir de la Calmette, Counoise, Aubuns.