Philosophy

Our goal is to craft a range of quality wines to express the character of our terroir while minimising our environmental impact. Winemaker Florian André explains: “Our customers deserve good quality wines that are safe to drink. Besides, we are the primary consumers of our own wines.” So what does this mean in practice?

In the vineyard
We shun the use of chemical inputs of any kind, including chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedkillers. Instead, we treat our vines where necessary with copper and sulphur products, in the lowest possible concentrations to avoid polluting the soil. We focus more on upstream practices, doing our best to anticipate as far as possible any treatments required; we prefer to provide preventive, rather than curative, care. Weeds are controlled by mechanical means, notably soil-tilling.

In the winery
We also avoid chemical inputs in the wine-making process. Wines are protected by nitrogen blanketing, significantly reducing the need for sulphites.

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

 

From Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, first published in 1939

A Word from the Winemaker

When the Brothers entrusted me with the stewardship of their vineyards, they were already growing their vines sustainably with a low-intervention approach. I had realised that agricultural products were gradually losing their effectiveness, and began to hear more and more about the concept of soil pollution. The message was clear: we had to start putting the land first. That’s when I decided organic viticulture was the way forward, even though it would mean an enormous amount of extra vineyard work. Once that was in place, it seemed logical to go one step further and start farming biodynamically. In practice, this means that we no longer treat the vines with any chemicals at all. Since the birth of my son in 2009, I’ve been more conscious than ever of offering healthier, more wholesome wines. I’m convinced that organic viticulture is the right choice, and is the only way to protect the earth and our planet, our health and the future of our children.”

 

Florian André

A successful transition to organic

History

Le Roi, après avoir homologué les délibérations du Conseil général de Roquemaure des 6 aout 1663 et 10 septembre 1737 en ce qu’elles sont conformes aux dispositions ci-après, ordonné :
ART. 3 – Pour obvier aux abus qui peuvent se commettre en faisant passer les vins des mauvais crus pour ceux de véritables bons crus, tant de Roquemaure et que des lieux de paroisses voisins et contigus de Tavel [ …] , seront marqués sur l’un des fonds étant pleins et non autrement, d’une marque à feu qui contiendra ces trois lettres C.d.R. signifiant Côtes du Rhône, avec le millième de l’année […]

TAVEL, an historic cru

Tavel’s winegrowing history stretches back some 2,000 years. Archaeologists have found traces of grape seeds preserved in the soil, evidence that vines have been growing here since at least the first century AD. In ancient times, the Rhône Valley was colonised first by Greeks and then by Romans; it was the Romans who planted the first vines in Tavel, recognising how useful its proximity to the Rhône would be in building up river trade. In the early 14th century, Philip IV of France (Philip the Fair) passed through Tavel en route to the papal enclave in Avignon. He tried the local wine, and it soon became a firm favourite. King Philip is even said to have declared, “There is no other wine as good as the wine of Tavel”. The Avignon popes were also very familiar with these vineyards, as many of them had been built up by religious communities. As early as 1615, Tavel had regulations in place to safeguard wine quality; these included planting restrictions, and the famous ‘Ban des Vendanges’ – the official opening of the grape harvest. It was not until the 18th century, however, when Tavel wines were first served at the court of Louis XIV, that the Rhône vineyards began to gain universal acclaim and the Côtes du Rhône name was introduced. By the 18th and 19th centuries, Tavel wines were being shipped from the port of Roquemaure to all four corners of the earth. In 1902, Tavel’s winemakers joined together to form a professional association – the Syndicat des propriétaires viticulteurs de Tavel, or Tavel Winegrowers’ Syndicate – to protect and promote their rosé wines. They started by defining a specific Tavel production area; then in 1927, with support from Baron Leroy, Aimé Roudil led 40 winegrowers in a bid to have this production area officially recognised and accredited. The application was successful, and in 1936 Tavel was finally granted AOC status by decree – the first and only all-rosé AOC in France.

Château de Manissy and the Missionary Brothers

CHÂTEAU DE MANISSY dates back to the 17th century. After the First World War, the château and its lands were bequeathed to the Missionary Brothers of the Holy Family by J. de Talode Du Grail. The Brothers planted the first vines here and released their first Tavel wines in the early 20th century, for use at Mass and for general consumption by their own community and a small number of outside customers. The estate motto was, and continues to be, ‘Auspice Clara Manissy Stella’ – ‘Under the Protection of the Bright Star of Manissy’. The Brothers live in the château even now. As they grew older, however, it became imperative to find someone new to manage the vineyards. Enter Florian André, a young Tavel winemaker, who came to the estate in 2003. Florian threw himself wholeheartedly into carrying on the Brothers’ work as well as putting together a range of new wines himself. The Brothers’ choice was no coincidence: Florian comes from 7 generations of Tavel winegrowers, knows the terroir well and loves it dearly. In 2009, out of respect for vine and wine, Florian began his journey to convert the vineyards first to organic, then biodynamic agriculture. The walls of the cellars have some fascinating stories to tell; Florian André has learned their language and is happy to share them with us.

Château de Manissy today

Since 2003, Florian André has been on a mission to boost the quality of his wines, giving them more precision, freshness and finesse. As a fervent environmentalist – and equally passionate about technology – he makes investments year on year to ensure the château boasts the latest cutting-edge equipment. Meanwhile, Château de Manissy continues to build on the traditions laid down by the Brothers, adding a touch of modernity and focusing on the environmental values Florian André holds so dear. The estate measures 60 hectares and produces wines across the Tavel, Châteauneuf du Pape, Lirac and Côtes du Rhône appellations.

What is Organic Agriculture?

Organic agriculture is an agri-food production system designed to protect the environment and promote animal welfare. In essence, it’s a system of farming that avoids the use of synthetic chemical products and GMOs.

For the winegrowing sector, this means:

  • Growing quality grapes without using weedkillers or other synthetic products such as fungicides, pesticides or fertilisers, replacing them with natural and mineral-based products;
  • Promoting worker and employee safety and wellbeing, and protecting the environment;
  • Safeguarding the terroir and ensuring the future viability of the vineyard;
  • Meeting customer demand for organic products;
  • Seeking publicly-recognised, strictly regulated and frequently-monitored accreditation.

 

Certified organic winegrowers in France must also comply with European regulation EC 834/2007 on organic production.

Approved French organic certification bodies

AB is an accreditation used only in France. Its use is optional. An AB logo guarantees that the product you are buying complies with strict organic specifications, and that production is regularly monitored by an approved independent body.

Ecocert is the European certification mark for organic agriculture.

Like AB, Ecocert certifies the provenance of a wine, and guarantees its compliance with strict organic regulations. Organic products produced in the European Union must be Ecocert accredited.

What is Biodynamic Agriculture?

Biodynamic agriculture is one of our oldest organic agriculture systems. Like other forms of organic farming, it excludes the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedkillers; however, biodynamics also focus on restoring, maintaining and revitalising organic life in the soils and the vineyard environment in general.

Biodynamic farming differs from other agricultural systems in two specific ways:

• It prescribes the mandatory use of biodynamic preparations in and around the vines. These are divided into three categories: field preparations, compost preparations, and plant teas and decoctions.

• It takes into account the ‘cosmic rhythms’ – the influence of the sun, moon, planets and zodiac constellations.

Approved biodynamic certification bodies

Demeter is currently the only official certification body for biodynamic agriculture to provide consumers with an assurance that biodynamically produced grapes and wines adhere to strict international standards.

–   Demeter’s viticultural specifications are based on European regulations for organic agriculture. Additional stipulations include reducing inputs further still and applying specific biodynamic methods – notably the use of biodynamic preparations;

–   Its biodynamic winemaking specifications again stipulate using fewer inputs than in organic winemaking, giving more natural wines.

The team