Brigitte Chevalier was previously export manager for the Jean-Luc Thunevin négociant company in her native Bordeaux until, in the mid-2000s, she decided to move to the Languedoc to make wine. She began by making wines from grapes bought-in from other growers, including Faugères and Saint-Chinian, along with various Vins de Pays.
Fast-forward a few years and Brigitte now makes top-notch wines from her own estate, Domaine de Cébène. She farms several small parcels of old vines, situated in the far north of the Faugères region - halfway between Faugères itself and the hilltop hamlet of Caussiniojouls, where she originally rented a small, rather ramshackle building to make and store her wines. She has recently built a brand new winery and house in the middle of her main hilltop vineyard, surrounded by gnarly 100 year-old Carignan vines, with spectacular views stretching towards the Mediterranean, around 40 kilometres away, and even (on a clear winter's day) the Pyrenées, over 100 km away.
Indeed, Brigitte's vineyards are amongst the highest and most spectacular in the appellation, with a new winery situated on top of a hill, surrounded by gnarly 100 year-old Carignan vines, between the hamlet of Caussiniojouls and the town of Faugères itself, (see photo). Another vineyard is situated on an elevated and terraced mound, the south face of which is planted with Mourvèdre, whilst the north-facing side is planted with Syrah. The idea is that the later ripening Mourvèdre gets more of the sun, whilst the less demanding Syrah benefits from the slightly longer growing season of the north-facing situation. It is all relative, though, on a hill which sees a great deal of sun on all sides, though the elevation of around 300 metres above sea level ensures a longer (and slightly cooler) growing season than the vineyards down on the plain.
Talking of which, along with her 4 different Faugères cuvées, Brigitte also makes a wonderful Pays d'Oc wine, predominantly Grenache grown on Villafranchien soil (a mix of red clay and smooth pebbles), along with a little Mourvedre, grown on a 40-metre-deep bed of sea sediment and alluvial deposits in Corneilhan, just north of Béziers.
We are proud to have been the first merchant to introduce Brigitte's wines into the UK market, for they are uniformly elegant, complex and utterly brilliant, and compare favourably with the best wines in the appellation – indeed, with the very best in all of Languedoc. And since the first Cébène vintage in 2008, her wines have rightly gained a fine reputation amongst consumers and critics alike, regularly receiving high marks from no less an authority than Jancis Robinson MW.