LES VIGNERONS DU VALLON
PRODUCTEURS DE PLAIMONT
DOMAINE COSSE MAISONNEUVE
LES VIGNERONS DU VALLON
2015 AOC Marcillac Rouge "Les Burons" (Mansois)
Situated in the idyllic Marcillac Valley of the Aveyron region, Les Vignerons du Vallon is a local co-operative gathering together about forty farmers to produce 55% of the Marcillac appellation’s total wine.
Winemaking in the region declined steeply through the 19th–20th centuries, with a series of natural disasters including phyloxerra drastically reducing the number of viable vineyards. But the vines were gradually replanted, and the Marcillac appellation was granted AOC status in 1990, proving its quality and potential.
Marcillac is a petite, hilly area in the South-West of France, where predominantly the Mansois grape is grown. This rustic red varietal is also known as Fer Servadou and comprises 90% of all vine plantings in the region. It grows in an exceptional iron-rich clay soil on a limestone base, known locally as rougier, for which the area is recognised.
Plantings sit between 350 and 500 metres, and grapes continue to be picked traditionally, by hand. The region is unique in that it sits at the meeting point of three climatic zones—Continental, Oceanic, and Mediterranean. This melting pot of climates, combined with the altitude, wind, and soil, gives the Mansois its extraordinary characteristics and aromas.
Situated in South-West France, this co-operative’s vineyards stretch from the Pyrenean foothills to the undulating Gascony hillsides. Covering a medley of diverse terroirs, the Producteurs de Plaimont represents 98% of the Saint-Mont appellation, 48% of the Madiran and Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh appellations, and nearly half of Côtes-de-Gascogne.
In 1979, the three wine co-operatives of the communes Plaisance, Aignan, and Saint-Mont formed a single united vigneron entity for the Gers department. In 1999, these Plaimont Producteurs were then too joined by the co-operatives of Crouseilles (producing across the Madiran, Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh and Béarn AOCs) and Condom (Côtes-de-Gascogne and Condomois AOCs). Today, the group manages 5,000 hectares of vines, with the average property covering 6-7 hectares. Forty million bottles of wine are sold each year.
The co-operative is conscious of farming with the environment in mind in order to preserve their land and heritage for future generations. The Producteurs de Plaimont also places importance on supporting young winegrowers, aiding them with set-up and teaching them the meaning of solidarity and community.
It’s a rather hi-tech operation, with each stage of production rigorously recorded in an individual log book for every parcel of grapes. Technology is engaged to establish the optimal harvest date, measuring the likes of phenolic maturity, sugar density, and nitrogen assimilation. For the red wines, only French barrels made out of oak from Allier, the Vosges, or the forest of Fontainebleau are used.
The cooperative is also concerned with the fair payment for grapes and distribution of wealth throughout the group of participating cooperatives and to the winegrowers who support them.
Matthieu Cosse and Catherine Maisonneuve are making some outstanding wines in Cahors – very elegant, precise and lifted with a wonderful drinkability. No new oak is used in the ‘elevage’, only old barrels of several wines.
With his experience in the cooperative cellar in the South West of France Matthieu settled on his own with Catherine who was straight out of the famous Chateau Leovillle Las Cases (Bordeaux) and produced their first vintage together in 1999 from a small plot of 5 ha they managed in “fermage”. They are now the owners of 17 ha in Prayssac, near Cahors.
Very quickly they decided to follow biodynamic practices and they set out to make wines that genuinely reflected their place of origin. The vines are spread over 2 different types of soil, and each plot is vinified separately. The first terroir is on clay and limestone ("the plateau") gives structured wines made with an ageing potential. The second, in Prayssac, in the valley, produces wines that are more fleshy, supple and fruity ("the terraces"). The soils are worked and the vines treated in a homeopathic way. The harvest is done by hand, Mathieu and Catherine carefully sort out the quality of the bunches that will be destemmed. Weather conditions and low yields provide a natural balance (thick skin and little juice). The vinification starts with indigenous yeasts. Vatting is long, with no remontage and filtration is non-existent.