Jean-Marie Rimbert arrived in the Languedoc in the early 90’s to manage the vineyards at Château de Flaugergues. A native of Provence, he had been an artist searching for a media in which to express himself. He fell for the schist laden landscape of the Berlou area in the north of Saint-Chinian and began saving to buy tiny plots of very old neglected vineyard with which to ply his art.
Today he is recognised as one of Languedoc’s most important producers and one of the most talented of the ‘New Carignanistes’. As he is often quoted “Carignan is my Pinot Noir”. He understands that it is a variety that, like Pinot, is incredibly sensitive to terroir. In Berlou, one of only two villages with cru status in Saint-Chinian, old vine Carignan raised in schist soils produces one of the strongest expressions of terroir in all France. Carignan is often regarded as a slightly dilute varietal red that is tricked up with carbonic maceration for interest but on the schist of Saint-Chinian, Jean-Marie crafts vibrant, deep fruited wines with cherry, tart plum, spice and a sanguine-like minerality.
Jean-Marie now owns 20 hectares in Saint Chinian spread over 40 parcels. The vineyards are all managed using bio philosophies without herbicides or pesticides and only organic inputs to maintain soils microbes. The parcels of vines range in age with some over 100 years and 60% are over 60 years old.
In the cellar Jean-Marie is non-interventionist almost to the point of neglect. Ferments are natural, extraction is very gentle and only gravity is used to move the wine. Wines are aged on lees with minimal or no racking. The cold cellars and harsh winters and lees aging prevent the need for additives for protection or stabilisation of the wine. Minimal sulphur is used at bottling. These are natural wines produced to express the unique terroir.
The Saint-Chinian wines consist of blends based on Carignan and including Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre. The AOC law specifies that these must be blends to carry the appellation name, thus Jean-Marie’s 100% varietal cuvees are classified as Vin de France. He also designs all his contemporary labels - A true artiste du vin.
Jean-Marie is at once an innovator and a custodian of traditions. He blends the new with the old to produce some of the most distinctive wines of the Languedoc and at very reasonable prices. He is one of a growing breed of producers passionately working with the Languedoc’s best terroirs to create unique expressions that are capturing the palates of wine lovers the world over.