In the first half of the 20th century, olive trees flourished and dominated the agriculture in Vinsobres and Saint Maurice. That all changed in 1956 when a frost that represented a temperature swing of nearly 70° essentially wiped out the entire region’s groves in one night, including many trees close to 1000 years old. In the agricultural realignment that ensued, many farmers chose less sensitive grapevines as their new crop of choice.
One blessing that came out of that tragedy was the eventual founding of Domaine Chaume-Arnaud in 1987. Valérie Chaume-Arnaud had grown up amongst her family’s mere 4.5 hectares of vines and knew since she was very young that she wanted to become a vigneron. Fresh out of oenology school at 23, she made that dream a reality, starting with those very wines from her childhood.
Today she works her now 38 hectares with her husband, Phillipe, and eldest son, Thibaud. Harkening to her humble beginnings, she is careful about the enterprise’s impact on the natural flora and fauna in and around her Domaine. The operation is entirely biodynamic (Demeter certified), and they are painstaking deciding their plantings' locations, always careful to consider and encourage biodiversity. In the winery, no oak is used, and all fermentation and élevage take place in tank.
In Vinsobres, 400 meters above sea level and in the shadow of Mont Ventoux, the vines of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Syrah (for reds) and Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier (for whites) flourish in the Mediterranean climate. Planted on limestone and clay soil with southern sun exposure, this climate and terroir is perfect for the production of these blending varieties. The wines themselves echo their situation and the care that goes into them, always with a subtle whisper of olive like ghosts of terroirs past.
Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Côtes-du-Rhône
Domaine Chaume-Arnaud IGP Méditérranée 'Pontias'