An exceptional terroir
A winemaking that combines tradition and modernity
The niche approach to vine growing, a diverse geology, and the emphasis on finesse and balance give a unique typicity to the wine of Couvent des Jacobins.
Our wine making
philosophy at Couvent des Jacobins emphasizes finesse and balance. Structure
and concentration are important attributes, but they must be present without
attenuating the underlying soil, vines, and the love and work we put into it
when making it.
The vineyard spreads over 10.7 hectares with three grape varieties : merlot, cabernet franc and petit-verdot since 2010. The petit-verdot brings further aromatic complexity and density. Included in the blend of Couvent des Jacobins since the 2014 vintage, and reinforces the identity of the estate without changing its underlying winemaking philosophy. The average age of the vineyard is about 40 years.
Couvent des Jacobins vines grow over 14 different types of sub-soils, grouped into 4 main soils : the limestone plateau (right in front of Couvent des Jacobins); sandy-clay with limestone reflux ('molasses du fronsadais') ; sandy-clay (Southwest hill of Saint-Émilion); and clay and limestone (Northeast plateau, at the entrance of Saint-Émilion).
We use four-way ploughing throughout the estate. The relatively old age of the vineyard gives the berries a natural concentration with yields of typically 35 hectolitres per hectare in a given year. We follow the plots agronomically to optimize leafing, green harvesting and control the homogeneity of the crop. The estate is currently under organic conversion.
The harvest exclusively takes place by hand in small containers "cagettes", with a first sorting on the plant and a second one after destemming, in the cuvier of Couvent des Jacobins, one of the rare ones located at the center of Saint-Émilion. Vatting takes place by gravity to maintain the integrity of the berries, with an emphasis made on parcel-specific vatting (each cement vat generally contains the crop from 0.5 to 1 hectare per plot). We vinify the petit-verdot separately in oak given the very small quantities. The berries may go through a cold pre-fermentation maceration during a few days, depending on the years and the plots. Given our emphasis on finesse and balance, the maceration generally does not exceed 30 days, and typically takes place below 30 degrees.
We barrel the wine by gravity, generally in November and December, all in oak barrels. The choice of the barrel and the proportion between new oak and one-year oak depends on the vintage, though our philosophy of balance and finesse generally leads us to use a maximum of 50% to 55% of new oak. The moderate use of new oak helps preserve the aromatic complexity and the finesse of the fruit. Ageing generally lasts 12 to 15 months in the air-conditioned roman cellar, with regular tastings. We rack the wines during ageing only if we deem it necessary after tasting, generally two to three times.
We finalise the blend once ageing is complete. We do a last selection of the barrels to determine the barrels going in the blend of Couvent des Jacobins. The other barrels will be destined to Menut des Jacobins, our second wine. The wine blend of Couvent des Jacobins was generally 75% to 85% of merlot and 15% to 25% of cabernet franc until 2013. Vintages after that include 2.5% to 5% of petit-verdot. Annual production varies between 2,000 and 2,500 cases of Couvent des Jacobins, and between 500 and 700 cases of Menut des Jacobins.
Once blended, we let the wine rest in the cement
vats for several weeks. Bottling is undertaken in the underground cellar from
the cuvier by gravity. It is in those ideal conditions that the wines of
Couvent des Jacobins start their long ageing process.
We invite you to read more technical details on this page.