Saint-Chinian is a village and a wine-producing appellation area of the southern France’s Languedoc wine region.
Located inland from the nearby city of Bézier, yet relatively close from the Mediterranean coast, the Saint-Chinian area is surrounded by other popular and diverse wine countries such as Minervois, Faugères, Saint-Jean de Minervois, famous for its fortified Muscat wines. Overall, altitude here is low, from 325 to 650ft (100 to 200m) above sea level.
Climate & Soils
Being only 20 miles (32km) from the southern French coast, the climate is obviously typically Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot and dry summers.
As for soils, the area is divided into two sub-zones, both quite hilly. To the North soils are principally composed of schist, much like in the nearby appellation of Faugères with a vegetation cover made of pine and chestnut trees, mimosa and orange trees. To the South however, soils are predominantly made of clay and limestone, sometimes sandstone, where the typical garrigue vegetation (Provencal herbs) thrives.
Saint-Chinian AOC/AOP Regulations
The first wine regulations in the area was a VDQS designation (Vin Délimité de Qualité Suppérieure) created in 1951 and then named Côtes de l’Orb et du Vernazobres after two local rivers. Today’s AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegée) was first ruled in 1982, for red and rosé wines only at the time, while white wines were introduced to the appellation in 2005.
Twenty years ago, the Saint-Chinian AOC in the Hauts Cantons of the Hérault département conducted an independent identification of its best terroirs. This eventually led to the identification of two areas with qualitative schist soils, sources of high-quality wines. Saint-Chinian Roquebrun and Saint-Chinian Berlou were recognized as Cru du Languedoc with their own appellation in 2005.
The Crus of Saint-Chinian
Saint-Chinian Berlou: A south-facing vineyard
Located at a height of between 150 and 400 metres, and covering about 60 hectares (150 acres) the appellation is planted with south-facing vines that are over ten years old. The fine wines that are produced here, with their hint of roasted coffee and silky tannins, are now part of the AOC Languedoc family.
Key Figures about Saint-Chinian Berlou
Saint-Chinian Roquebrun: The schist of Saint-Chinian
The vineyard is made up of vines that are at least five years old, and covers around 125ha (300 acres) which thrive to perfection in soil that is dominated by schist. This terroir, which is now part of the AOC Languedoc family, produces well-rounded wines with strong and complex aromas, with hints of spice and tannins full of finesse that burst on the palate.
Key Figures about Saint-Chinian Roquebrun wine
Grape varieties & Wine Production
The Saint-Chinian vineyards cover a surface area just over 2,650ha (6,500 acres), but about 2.600 ha of vineyards planted in red and white grape varieties.
The area’s annual wine output is a little over 100,000 hl, or 10 million litres.
Key Figures about Saint-Chinian wine
The regulation is quite strict regarding which grapes must be included in the blend, and also quite confusing. Essentially, Saint-Chinian wines must be blended from several grapes, and good ones at that.
In detail, at least 60% of the blend must be made from the combination of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Lladoner, including 10% minimum for Syrah and/or Mourvèdre and minimum 20% Grenache and/or Lladoner. In addition, the proportion of Carignan must not exceed 40%, while Cinsault is limited to 30% max. I know, my head hurts too!
White grapes used in Saint-Chinian are Grenache Blanc (30% min.), Marsanne, Roussanne, and Vermentino (Rolle).
Recommended Saint-Chinian Wines, Ratings & Reviews
Probably one of the very best wine made in Saint-Chinian would be:
Also Tasted and approved:
Saint-Chinian is recognised for offering a variety of wines with consistently good quality across many producers.
Eight cooperative wineries produce more than half of the appellation’s wine, but the area also count with many individual producers including:
Domain Canet Valette
Cave de Belou
Cave Les Vignerons Du Pays d’Enserune
Château de Saint-Cels
Domaine Grasset Rives
Castle La Bousquette
Domaine La Croix-Saint-Eulalie
Chateau La Dournie
Domaine La Grange Léon
Domaine La Lauzeta
Domain La Linquiere
Domain La Madura
Domaine La Maurine
Domaine La Serveliere
Domaine Les Eminades
Domaine Des Madalle
Domaine Marie De Lauzerda
Domain Marquise Des Mures
Domaine Mas Ronnel
Domaine Des Mathurins
Domaine du Meteore
Domaine De Montplo
Domaine Pech De Lune
Domaine Pin Des Marguerites
Domain Pradels Quartironi
Domaine Prieure Saint-Andre
Domaine des Soulie
Domain Terrasses De Gabrielle
Domaine Terres Falmet
Domaine Des Tourterelles
Domaine Vieux Chai
Domaine Vila Voltaire