Interview with Château des Brigands

We have the great pleasure to work with Château des Brigands and to be their UK sole importer. This is a small production from one of the best climates in Provence : “Montagne – Sainte-Victoire”. Also very famous thanks to the painters Cezanne and Renoir. Their cuvee Château des Brigands is only limited to 11,000 bottles a year. See below our interview with Sandrine Pelenc, one of the owners on the 20th July. 

Good afternoon Sandrine. Thank you for giving us an interview. First of all, we would like to ask you some questions about how you created the domain. How did you recover the inherited vineyard from your grandfather Mr. Simon? Have you met any difficulties? 
My grandfather left us 15 hectares.  All his land was abandoned. We really did everything to honour the memory of our “Papé” and I think now, that we have succeeded. Obviously, it was a tough job and we had financial difficulties.

Did you have any training before launching yourselves in this business?
No, this is a family story. We all learned through observation and practice as well as listening.

Why did you call « Chateau des Brigands »?
In 1793 during the French Revolution, the “Chouans” (Royalist insurgents) would have hidden their treasure behind a path. Smugglers used to lie behind the mountain facing the domain waiting for the treasure. Knowing this story, we decided to name our Château, the “Château des Brigands”. Rather original, don’t you think? (Laugh)

What is your best memory of the domain?
Our best memory, and one I will remember for the rest of my life, was during the beginning in 2014. During our first harvest, it was raining so much. We had to cover all of the vines with tarps before going back home. I’m laughing today, but believe me, doing all this was very hard mentally.

What are the advantages and the inconveniences of this job?
We depend a lot on the climate. But we are independent, and we are in permanent contact with nature.

What are the qualities to do this job? to be a winegrower?
I cannot say that it’s a job. For me, it’s a real hobby. This is a choice of life. It’s a real pleasure every day.

What can you say about the grape variety?
Well… the Château des Brigands is composed of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% of Cinsault. This is what gives it a pale pink colour, with aromas of fresh fruit, is a very light and fruity rosé.

What distinguishes you from other vineyards?
We offer the same quality every year.  It’s a consistent wine. We also prefer to provide quality than quantity. Our total annual production is between 1000 and 1400 hectolitres/year, but we are closer to 1,000hl for the last two years. Our harvests haven’t been as good as usual, due to the climatic conditions between the late frosts, drought, hail. This year we may have lost 20% of our production.

Where do you sell your wines?
We decided to stop supplying the restaurants in France. You also need to know that 80% of our production is sold from our wine cellar. Export is a very small part of our sales. L’Ami JAC in the UK, another one in Swiss and in Germany.

Are the medals important to you?
Yes, I give some importance to the medals, but only through personal choice. It is a good way to be evaluated and to get some respect. I don’t give much credit to the wine critics who judge the wines, because they judge so many others in a day. Last time the judges came, they looked so looked so confused. When a medal is obtained, it’s our efforts that are rewarded. It’s a personal satisfaction.

Why did you choose this shape of bottle?
We immediately loved it.  This shape of the bottle is not easy to find. We wanted something different and I must say that it’s a great marketing tool for us.

What are your ambitions for the Château des Brigands?
The main ambition for us is to ensure our succession. Our sons Nicolas and Lucas want to continue with the vineyard (my daughter would like to be a solicitor). It’s a beautiful thing that our children follow us in our passion, and it’s reassuring to think that our efforts will be succeeded by the family.

Thank you very much Sandrine for your time and to answer us with clarity and your honestly.

Interview on the 20th of July 2018

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