The Gadagne Castle used to have its own vineyards in the place known as “Les Garriguettes”, which are now cultivated by Domaine des Garriguettes, and the source of its name. The region remained under papal rule until becoming part of France in 1791. This legacy can be seen in the massive Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) in the city center of Avignon, the historic destination for the consumption of the Gadagne village wines.
Châteauneuf de Gadagne is very important to Provençal culture and the ancient Occitan language. The jewel of the village is Château de Fontségugne, where in 1854, Frédéric Mistral began the revival movement of Occitan language and literature, called the Félibrige, with a gathering of his fellow prominent Provençal poets, to promote the language of “Oc”. The word “félibrige” is derived from félibre, a Provençal word meaning pupil or follower. Provençal is a dialect of the Occitan language, but confusingly, the name is sometimes used as a synonym for Occitan. Le Félibrige is an organization focused on protecting and promoting Occitan language and culture, fighting for recognition of cultural diversity both within France and across the wider world. This movement was instrumental in preserving the culture and language for future generations. Intrinsically tied to their homeland, Sébastien and Domaine des Garriguettes approach their mission with the same motivation: to translate and propagate their region’s culture into the next generation.
The Gadagne village story is truly the tale of an underdog – one of the great, unique terroirs of the region that has gone unheralded for many years due to political feuds with the much more powerful Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. Gadagne has been under the AOP appellation Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne (Protected Designation of Origin Gadagne) since the 2012 vintage, Côte du Rhône Villages since 1997, and Côtes du Rhône since 1937. Due to restrictions from the powerful Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation (which they also produce), Domaine des Garriguettes are restricted from using the full name of the village, Châteauneuf de Gadagne on the label. The two appellations share almost identical characteristics, from climate to the famous galets roulés soil, of which Châteauneuf-de-Gadagne has approximately 120 hectares of all three types: rouge, blanc, and orange.
Gadagne was originally a woodcutter’s village whose Châteauneuf was built in 1150. Châteauneuf du Pape at that stage was known as Châteauneuf Calcernier, after its limestone quarry. It had been a ‘Châteauneuf’ (castrum novum) since 1094 or earlier, though the actual ‘Châteauneuf du Pape’, the source of the appellation name today, was only begun in 1317. The growers of Gadagne have held the position that since their castle is actually older than the one in Châteauneuf du Pape, they have the historic right to the name Châteauneuf de Gadagne.
In the vineyards of Domaine des Garriguettes, one can clearly see the old boundary stones marking the limits of the papal domains with the famous crest of the papacy: the papal tiara placed above the keys of St. Peter. In the end, the growers of Gadagne realized that the dispute over the Châteauneuf name would prevent them ever achieving named-village status, so they capitulated and Gadagne became one of the 18 named villages in 2012.
Raised in the family winery, Sébastien inherited his passion for wine, along with hands-on experience at a very early age, from his grandfather Jean Clément, and his father, Jean Louis. Subsequently, Sébastien left the region to work at other wineries for a few years, gaining valuable winemaking experience along the way. Sébastien and Domaine des Garriguettes have two guiding philosophies: a deep respect for promoting their family heritage and cultural traditions into the future, and a sensitivity and sense of responsibility for their contribution to the equilibrium of their ecosystem. The blending of traditional and natural vinification methods demonstrates their constant quest to produce high-quality wines with progressive regenerative and biodynamic farming methods, as well as natural winemaking techniques. All of Garriguettes’ estate vineyards are farmed certified organic (Ecocert) and certified biodynamic (Demeter), since the 2010 vintage; however, Sébastien’s father, John Louis, also worked without chemical intervention.
On 50 hectares of land, Domaine des Garriguettes has 22 hectares of vines and two hectares of olive trees planted in a pastoral, polyculture setting. They utilize cover crops for soil health and to reduce heat stress in the vineyards, among other benefits. Two full-time and five part-time employees assist the family in the vineyards during peak season.
In the cellar, Sébastien works in an intuitive manner with the least amount of intervention possible. Every vineyard and cuvée is handled individually; the only formula at the winery is excellence. Indigenous yeasts are used for alcoholic fermentation for the entirety of the cuvées, and malolactic fermentations are spontaneous and never rushed. Added sulfur dioxide is not present in the Le Béret Bleu and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and only minimally in the other wines. There is no dogma about sulfur, other than Sébastien endeavors to make the very best, most expressive wine possible, with or without sulfur.