The Cave Coopérative of my village Cazouls-lès-Béziers is part of the Vignerons des Pays d’Ensérune, together with Capestang and Nissan-lez-Ensérune. These three co-operative wine cellars produce wine from grapes collected by over 500 owner-winegrower families from 3,000 hectares of vines spread over 11 villages. In 2017, the Comptoir de Cazouls-lès-Béziers underwent a complete transformation to meet modern and sustainbable standards. I had never had the chance to visit until now!
I’m lucky to live in a village with an active cave coopérative, like Cazouls-lès-Béziers. They organise several activities and events throughout the year, like a walk through the vines, tastings, and visits to the wine cellar. A visit to the cave itself has become even more entertaining with the arrival of a gigantic piece of wall art on the 700 m2 wall of the wine cellar. This colourful fresco is made by internationally renowned artist Jace. As he had finished the fresco earlier than thought, a few of his famous characters, called ‘les gouzous’, escaped and spread around the exterior and interior of the cave coopérative. With this visit, I finally had the opportunity to discover them.
The visit started outside, explaining the process of winemaking from the moment the grapes arrive. Once the tractors with their grape-filled containers arrive on the platform, they are weighed. Depending on the grape variety, the winegrower will receive a badge, so he or she knows where to unload their precious cargo. There is a separate container for the grapes that will turn into rosé, as their skin has to come off as quickly as possible, given the trend of pale-coloured rosé wines. Once the grapes are pre-selected, they go to a so-called ‘clarinette’. This ingenious tool distributes the crushed grapes into gigantic inox tanks to start the fermentation.
After the fermentation, another machine cleverly distributes the juice-including-alcohol into other inox tanks for the ageing process. These so-called ‘cuves’ are marked with the specific mix of varieties and the date, and only contain juice for red wine. The juice to create the white wines goes directly to a separate part of the cave coopérative. This is because the cuves containing the white wine are cooled from the outside with special, anti-frost water. It impressed me to see the advanced techniques used to create the wines, amongst which is Chéri and mine’s local favourite, Muscat Sec.
Only a small selection of the collected grapes goes to a special place. Here, the grapes of ten winegrowers are selected by hand, to be stocked into small vats for about four to five months. After this, the juice will go directly into wooden barrels and the so-called ‘oeux’, special egg-shaped concrete barrels. The wines from this section are the high quality and exclusive ones. Going back to the front of the cave coopérative, we stopped and marvelled at the impressive wall painting from up close. Jace puts so much detail and jokes into his work, so you will discover something new every time you look. In spring and summer, the Comptoir de Cazouls-lès-Béziers organises wine tastings outside along the wall-art. A great way to discover, observe and enjoy at the same time.