Spirits / Vin de Liqueur / Floc de Gascogne / Domaine Chiroulet
Domaine Chiroulet - Floc de gascogne
Our other Floc de Gascogne comes not from an Armagnac producer but from one of our long-time, reliable Côtes de Gascogne wine producers. Domaine Chiroulet is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the Côtes de Gascogne about 8 kilometers north of Condom. The landscape covers the gently rolling hills with a patchwork of colors. It has been referred to as the Tuscany of southwest France. Situated on the highest slopes in Gascony (180 meters altitude), Chiroulet owes its name to the local patois word chiroula meaning “wind that whistles”.
The history of Domaine Chiroulet dates back six generations, since before the outbreak of the phylloxera in 1893. At the beginning of the 20th century and until the early 1930s, Alban Sourbès owned the estate. It was then taken over in 1935 by his niece, Suzanne Capmartin, and her husband, Albert Fezas. Plans to extend the vineyard were hindered during the Second World War when hardships prevented Suzanne and Albert from expanding. In 1969, Michel Fezas and his wife Arlette restructured and enlarged the property. Chiroulet, like many of the farms in the area, was polycultural and, in addition to vines (whose wine was either sold to the cooperative or distilled), drew revenue from sunflowers, corn and other crops.
When the market for Floc de Gascogne began developing, Fezas muted some of his grape must with Armagnac. Pleased with his results, he began selling some from the domaine in bottle.
Son Philippe Fezas began seriously working at the property in 1993 while continuing his work at the Seguin Moreau cooperage in Cognac. Trained as an agricultural engineer and oenologist, Philippe met with top winemakers around France and consulted with some of Seguin Moreau's top clients in Bordeaux. Tasting with the maître de chai at scores of luminary chateaux, Philippe's dreams about his own wine grew commensurately with his experience. He soon became convinced that Chiroulet could one day produce great wines.
Today that dream has become a reality. The family farms 45 hectares of vines aged between 10 and 40 years old. Most of the vines face due south and with some moisture problems dried by the chiroula. A good deal of the property is comprised of fine clay, not unlike the soil in Saint-Émilion. The parcels for white wine are mostly clay and limestone, although certain slopes contain chalky outcrops called retzine, which help intensify the white wine's floral and mineral profile.
Production has risen over the years. When Chiroulet wines were first imported into the United States in the mid-1990s, production stood at about 80,000 bottles a year and one of their fermentation tanks was a container used to transport liquids. Since that time, a new modern winery has been built, as well as a new chai and preparation area.
Still, Chiroulet very much remains a family affair, with Michel and Arlette still very involved with day to day activities and their daughter Sabine part of the domaine's distribution circuit.
Domaine Chiroulet Floc de Gascogne NV
And, as Michel discovered so long ago, they can still make excellent Floc de Gascogne, using the same ancient recipe used by their ancestors through the ages. Their white version, made with Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc must, combines notes of freshly squeezed grapes with white fruit and armagnac. It is most readily drunk as an apéritif, like Lillet, Dubonnet or its counterpart Pineau des Charentes. However, it's also delicious when poured in a fresh melon half, or even to accompany foie gras.