Saturday, December 28, 2013

Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil in Cairanne, an outstanding producer of organic wines

Small villages dot the hillsides throughout the Northern Vaucluse, a geographic area bordered by the Rhône river near Orange in the west and the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small chain of mountains with dramatically jagged peaks in the east just to the south of Vaison-la-Romaine.

The Northern Vaucluse is the heart of the Southern Côte du Rhône wine region with famous wine villages like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras and lesser known villages like Rasteau, Séguret and our own Sablet, the village we call home in Provence.

Cairanne is a village on a small hill east of Sablet known for producing very good wines. The lower part of the village is newer with a few shops, the Town Hall, and school. The oldest part of the village is on top of the hill. Cairanne was a fortified village of the Knights Hospitallers in Medieval times.

As I told you here, there is a hierarchy of wines in the Côtes du Rhône. Cairanne is classified at the third level, Côtes du Rhône-Villages (named village), which means Cairanne along with 17 other villages including our own Sablet, are authorised to put their village name on wine labels.

We recently added a red wine from Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil in Cairanne to our wine list at Bistro Des Copains, the small French bistro I co-own with friend Cluney in west Sonoma County California. Although we tasted the wine before adding it to the list, I had never visited the winery.

So one day earlier this year, I called and set a rendez-vous (made an appointment) with Madame Le Goeuil to visit the winery and déguster (taste) her wines.

Born to French parents in the Congo, Catherine returned to her homeland and in 1993 having lots of determination but not much experience, she and her family bought the 6 hectares (nearly 15 acres) domaine in Cairanne.

Friend Greg, Catherine Le Goeuil, and me

Shortly after applying one of their first chemical treatments to the vines, Catherine became very ill. Convinced the illness was caused by the chemicals, she decided that going forward, she would farm as naturally as possible. Over time, she converted to organic farming and in 1999 was organic certified.

The Mistral wind blows often on the vineyards which rids the vines of excess moisture when it is not wreaking havoc on her flowers. As is typical for organic farming, there is a grassy cover crop in between the vineyard rows that provides nutrients and microbiotic growth and well-aerated soils in a typically tough and relatively impermeable sandy soil.

Stainless steel tanks for fermenting white wine

Friends Julia and Jennifer with Catherine's helper

We have the 2010 Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne red wine seen below on our list at Bistro Des Copains. The wine is a blend of Grenache (51%), Syrah and Mourvèdre.

The grapes are harvested by hand from 50 year old vines and naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered which makes it more flavorful but also prone to more sediment.

Wine we have on list at Bistro Des Copains

Showing Catherine pictures of Bistro Des Copains

Lots of flowers

Friends Julia and Jennifer

She doesn't make a lot of wine, only 1600 - 2100 cases a year, so it may be hard to find. If you are in Sonoma County, come to the Bistro and enjoy it with dinner; its a great food wine. If you are lucky enough to be in the Southern Côte du Rhône wine region, you should visit Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil. You will be warmly received.

Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil
Quartier les Sablières
84290 Cairanne
Tel: 04 90 30 82 38

We hope you are enjoying the holiday season. Have a great weekend. Chat soon.


  1. Nice that you finally got to visit. I'd like to go visit more vinyards, but can't at present!

  2. Megan - Understand your not being able to go to more vineyards right now. This too shall pass. For us, it is really nice to be able to see the vineyards and meet the people behind the wines we sell at our Bistro Des Copains.

  3. Great to see pictures of this vineyard. It makes me excited for my next wine tasting tour. Especially because only just around 1600 cases are made a year, I'll have to come try with wine for my self.

    Ansel Marvin |