One-third of the bottled wine in France comes from the Languedoc Roussillon region, with an average of 2,000 million bottles per year. That’s a lot of wine! So, when born in this part of the South of France, chances are high that you are related to winemakers one way or another. A good example of this type of family business is ‘La Famille Fabre’. This ‘vigneron’ family has no less than five wine estates dotted around the Corbières region between Carcassonne and Narbonne. Time for a closer look!
Passion for wine
The Fabre family has had a passion for wine for over 14 generations. Today, the head of the family, Louis Fabre, runs the five wine estates with his twin daughters Clémence and Jeanne and his niece Paule. I was welcomed by Clémence to Château de Luc, the domaine where she and her sister were born, and where part of the family still lives. Here, you can also take part in ‘oenotourisme’, or wine tourism. You can either follow a walk through the vines and garrigue (30 euros) or visit the underground wine cellar (15 euros). Both tours include a wine tasting accompanied by local charcuterie and cheese. I myself can’t wait to bring my family to the escape room, a new addition opening in 2021.
Southern French fairy tale
The story of the Famille Fabre sounds like a Southern French fairy tale. Winegrowers since 1605, the family owned two wine estates for centuries. Through marriage, three more domains were added. The first new addition- Château Coulon- came when Auguste Fabre married Irma Coulon. Two generations later, their grandson André, Louis’ father, also married a winegrower’s daughter, Jacqueline Baldy, who brought in another estate: Le Domaine Grande Courtade. Finally, the last estate, Tour de Rieux, joined the family in 2016, after being inherited by Louis’ wife, Claire de Soos. Let’s say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, or the grape from the vine in this case.
With these five wine estates, the Fabre family covers a mosaic of terroirs that perfectly represents the Languedoc region. All of their wines are organic and produced with a humble respect for nature. Besides being winemakers, the Fabre family is a family of scientists and inventors. This explains their desire for innovation whilst also keeping traditions alive. For example, one of the family’s inventions, is the ‘wagonnets’- a kind of wagon used to transport the grapes. Another important pillar of the estate is family spirit, which I noticed even during my brief visit. When Clémence showed me around, I could feel their love for their family history and their wines breathing through Château de Luc. The 17th century kitchen is still used for monthly dinners, including everyone working for the Fabre family. What a great way to stay in contact with each other over a chimney cooked roast.
La Famille Fabre produces four ranges of wine: ‘Plaisirs’, ‘Terroirs’, ‘Sélections’ and ‘Liquoreux’. After visiting the underground wine cellar, dating from the 14th century (!), I had learned more about the various winemaking processes. Therefore, when I arrived at the family’s wine shop, I already had an idea about which wines I wanted to buy. However, standing there facing the beautifully labelled bottles and tasting a few of them made me hesitate… Of course, Clémence was there to guide me, and I ended up with a great selection of wines, covering pretty much all four of their ranges. The bottle of Le Camin of Fabre Gasparets that Clémence gave me on my way out came as a lovely surprise. This orange wine, aged in a 1,000 litre dolium and acacia barrels, comes in a limited vintage. I will save it for a special occasion to enjoy with my loved one!