Our Story

HISTORY

In the 20th century, Château Capion changed owners several times. Sold in 1900 to a family of wine negociants, the Wormsers, they were tragically deported to Auschwitz in 1944. In the sixties, the Château belonged to the Salasc family whose own land had been expropriated when Lake Salagou near Lodève was created. In 1996, the Bürhers moved to Capion, embarking on a renovation of the Château’s grounds by adding fountains, a French garden, an ornamental pond and an Italian dovecote.

In 2016, Château Capion was bought by Oleg Chirkunov. With a major overhaul of the vineyard, as well as the estate’s conversion to organic farming, a new phase in Capion’s story has begun. Today, we welcome the public all year round to our dégustations and our ever-popular cultural events.

Old manuscripts mention the château’s original construction in the 16th century, but most of the records we have today date back to 1873, when the Domaine de Capion (or CAPIOU for those speakers of Occitan) was acquired by the Keittinger family.

Already at this time, Mr Keittinger’s newly purchased estate consisted of (apart from the château) houses and gardens, ploughed land, vineyards, olive groves, woods and pasture that stretched over sixty hectares. The vines accounted for twelve of these. The land was, and still is, irrigated by a steady-flowing stream, the Gassac – though it can become more of a torrent, descending as it does from the Cévennes to bring a little fertility to the impoverished stony soil.

In the 1880s, work began in earnest on restoring the château to its former glory; and, at the same time, Mr Keittinger added to the property by constructing large cellars and outbuildings.

It was fortunate that he had plenty of money to burn. When Phylloxera hit France in 1863, sending wine prices rocketing and later decimating the Capion vineyard like so many others, Mr Keittinger still had enough in the bank to buy and import American vine stocks. He grafted them onto the few remaining French ones that had survived the natural catastrophe, and was able to look to the future again.

THE WINERY

The original concrete tanks in Château Capion’s winery, which was built in the 1950s, could hold 2000 hectolitres. Today, these have been replaced by thermostatically-controlled stainless steel vats; and each plot is vinified in a dedicated tank, while micro-selections from the plots are isolated in containers of 25 hectolitres.

In 2017, we started the major project of re-designing and upgrading the winery. The hot and cold water networks used to regulate temperatures during vinification are now computerised, and the entire winery connected to this thermoregulation system via greener heat pumps.

Gravity flow winemaking (the practice of allowing wine to drop through different levels to gently extract colour, flavour and tannin, and avoid the use of pumps or mechanical force, as in traditional one-level cellars) is also possible today with the installation of two-stage stainless steel tanks.

Finally, for the maturation of our wines, we use premium oak barrels from manufacturers such as Boutes, Taransaud, Darnajou and Chassin. They come in different sizes (225, 500 and 1500 litres) and are specially selected for each plot. We have also purchased a concrete egg and amphorae for both fermentation and maturation, to learn how these alternative vessels might further define the purity and balance of the end product.

HARVEST

The harvesting is entirely done by hand. Each cluster is sorted at the vine before being transported to the cellar in small boxes, and stored in a cold room to preserve them. Then, they are put on a conveyor belt and sorted again, removing any that are of inferior quality.

Each plot is vinified separately. Certain grape varieties, such as Grenache and Syrah, have been isolated to grow in micro-parcels within a larger plot. The winemaking objective here is to select the best vines according to the nature of the soil and the quality of the grapes.

Vintage 2019 >
Vintage 2018 >
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Vintage 2016 >

Vineyard and Terroir

The Château Capion estate is a 45 hectare vineyard with a unique terroir. 200 metres up the Terrasses du Larzac, the land around its сhâteau, winery and wine cellar extends over three broad geological zones, the soils underfoot changing from Montpellier sandstone and clay to limestone gravels and alluvial silts. These habitats, the biodiversity present all around, and the climatic variations at Capion are nuanced in wines that express, in their power and finesse, their provenance.

To grow vines successfully, in-depth knowledge of the soil is crucial. With the help of soil scientists Claude and Lydia Bourguignon, every parcel of land at Capion has been studied extensively and the soil structures within our boundaries mapped. This allows us to know where the smallest variations lie so we might orientate our work accordingly.

Maintaining the vineyard means respecting the fragile ecosystem of the soil. It also means careful management of the vines. From the disbudding of a stump and the tying-in of cordons, to the work of intercourses and opening up the vine’s fruit area, everything is done by hand. Furthermore, the estate anticipated – and has advanced – its certification in organic farming. Since 2016, all phytosanitary products used at Château Capion are certified organic.

Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon are our red wine varietals; for our whites: Viognier, Roussanne, Vermentino, Chardonnay, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc. Together, the average age of our vines is thirty years.

SOILS

Everywhere you walk in the upper part of the estate, off-white stones, some the size of cobbles, are underfoot. These are lacustrine deposits of limestone, sandstone and Montpellier clays. They are wonderful reservoirs of heat! When the Languedoc sun disappears over the horizon and the temperature drops, they continue to radiate warmth. This acts upon the phenolic ripeness of the grapes. That’s why it is from this more elevated part of the vineyard, with its argilo-limestone soils, and its subsoil of sand and loam, we select most of the Syrah grapes for Capion’s top cuvée.

Walk across what could be classified as the estate’s central geological band and you’ll notice how immediately different it is. Underfoot, there’s sand, consolidated pebbles and gravels. This easy-draining land is perfect for our Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault varietals.

Finally, walking round the lower part of the estate, close to the Hérault river glimpsed through the trees in the valley beneath, you are on clay and sand alluvial deposits. This is where our white grapes varietals are grown.

THE VARIETALS: RED GRAPES

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

This varietal owes its international recognition to the great wines of Bordeaux. In Languedoc, it produces wines which are powerful, rich and age-worthy. Planted in 1983, our Cabernet Sauvignon produces a concentrated wine with aromas of red fruits and spice for our «Domaine de Capion» range.

Cinsault

A varietal of French origin (Provence) characterised by black berries and white juice. In low yields, Cinsault brings fruit, suppleness and finesse to a wine, making it very popular in the production of rosé. Cinsault is one of the permitted grape varieties of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO, or AOP in French) Terrasses du Larzac, and is used in the production of our Le Chemin des Garennes rouge. We also use it for our rosé named Zéfir.

Grenache

A grape variety of Aragon, Spain, Grenache likes a gravel base. In winemaking, it adds potency and fruit to the finished product, while giving good ageing potential. Grenache is one of the permitted grape varieties of AOP Terrasses du Larzac, and is used in the production of our cuvées Le Chemin des Garennes, Château Capion and Le Songe d'Éocène.

Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre, a northern Spanish red grape variety (Catalonia) brings tannins and rich aromas to a wine. It is often used in blends to add complexity. For this reason, and because it is one of the permitted grape varieties of the AOP Terrasses du Larzac, we include it in the production of our cuvées Le Chemin des Garennes, Château Capion and Le Songe d'Éocène.

Syrah

As a grape variety of French origin, Syrah is very well established in the clay-limestone soils of the south of France. Its intense colour, as well as its red fruit aromas and spicy notes, add great complexity to a wine. Syrah is one of the permitted grape varieties AOP Terrasses du Larzac, and is used in our cuvées Le Chemin des Garennes, Château Capion and Le Songe d'Éocène.

THE VARIETALS: WHITE GRAPES

Bourboulenc

This varietal probably originated in Provence. Resistant to drought, it grows in argilo-limestone soils, producing large grapes that are harvested late. Not particularly aromatic, instead it adds a tension that marries beautifully with the much richer Roussanne. Bourboulenc is a permitted varietal under AOP Languedoc, and we use it in all three of our AOP whites.

Chardonnay

Historically, Chardonnay is the varietal of Burgundy. In our Languedoc vineyard, it is planted in limestone soils, and carefully monitored because it does not withstand drought well. Immediately aromatic, it has buttery notes, flavours of exotic fruits, wonderful freshness and a balanced acidity. We have selected it for our white wine « Domaine de Capion».

Clairette

Originally from Provence, Clairette grows best in poor limestone soils. It is recognised under AOP Languedoc, and we have selected it for its freshness and the beautiful tension it brings to our white blends.

Roussanne

Originally from the Rhône valley, Roussanne is a grape that requires a sunny sight and stony clay-limestone soils. It is a permitted varietal under AOP Languedoc. In our blends, it adds power and a lovely rich texture, forming as it does the base for our cuvées, Le Chemin des Garennes and Château Capion.

Viognier

A grape indigenous to the Northern Rhône valley, Viognier has delightful peach and apricot aromas, while on the palette its fruit adds elegance and finesse to our white cuvées. At Capion, Viognier is planted in clay-limestone soils. It is one of the permitted varietals of AOP Languedoc.

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Visit our tasting room; check out our regular art exhibitions; enjoy the Château's beautiful formal gardens and more.

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