In 1997, Marie-Claude and Paul de Chefdebien fell under the spell of this vine-growing domain, rich with a vibrant religious history and beautiful land where vines, rocks and garrigue meld together. The Baron de Chefdebien thus established a family tradition of vinegrowers, since Paul de Chefdebien’s second property, the domain of Saint Pierre de Serjac, has been in his family for 5 generations.
La Clape, once an island in the river mouth of the Aude, has always attracted men. Its history began more than 2000 years ago when Julius Caesar gave this land as a reward to his best legionnaires. They were the first to plant vines on the massif and successfully to sell the wine of La Clape.
The 30 hectares of vines and 40 hectares of garrigue of the terroir of the Abbaye des Monges is composed of calcareous clay soil with pebbles. The micro-climate of La Clape ensures a maximum of sunshine hours and the sea close by brings in morning mist, which is good for the quality of the grapes as they ripen.
In 1204, the Cistercian abbey of Olieux was founded on this spot by the Bernardines and became one of the rare Cistercian abbeys for women in the Languedoc. Of this past there remains the former Cistercian church of Notre-Dame des Olieux (Our Lady of the Olive Trees), which since 1951 has been classed as a Historic Monument. It was abandoned by the nuns in 1614 and sold as national property during the Revolution, when it was turned into an agricultural building. With a single nave with a flat chevet, vaulted on crossed ogives, it now only contains three of the four bays which originally composed it.
The vineyards of the Abbaye des Monges are composed of old Carignan vines (more than 50 years old), more recent vines of “improver” grape varieties such as Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, varieties for white wines: Bourboulenc, Rolle, Viognier and Roussanne.
The working of the soil, the control of the natural plant cover and well thought-out application of treatments today allow the character of the terroir to be expressed in the best possible way with respect for the environment.
We harvest all the grape varieties by hand for our red wines. The grapes are sorted, de-stemmed and crushed before being made into wine. Fermentation is carried out with native yeasts. The wine ferments with the skins in the vats for an average of two weeks in order to obtain wines that are at once fruity and structured. The majority of the wines are matured in vats, while a selection is matured in oak vats. The rosé wines are obtained by “bleeding” selected red wines after they have been in the vats for 6 to 10 hours.
For white wines, where care must be taken to harvest the grapes at the coolest temperature possible, harvesting is done by machine at dawn. The grapes harvested are sent directly into the presses on a conveyor to avoid any bruising or oxidation. After pressing, the must is decanted and ferments at a controlled temperature.