Vila Voltaire is the small personal passion project of winemaking rock star Stéphane Yerle. Stéphane is still a traveling winemaker throughout Europe, and over his career has been the consulting oenologist to both boutique and large production estates; places like Chateau Latour, Chateau Pibarnon, and Famille Fabre to name a few. Although from the Basque region of France, in 2000 he and his wife Cécile decided to buy some land in Languedoc to start a hobby winery that someday could be where they permanently lay their hat - as Languedoc is where Stéphan believes to be the 'most free' region for making wine. Having started with just 1.5 hectare, they now farm 12 hectares of land, and since the beginning have worked organically to match their fully organic lifestyle. Nestled near Saint Chinian and the Coteaux d'Ensérune, Stéphane works with a variety of grapes to showcase his skills and love for the region and is a leading expert on micro-oxygenation in wine, utilzing many vessels in his cellar to get the most from his different grapes: amphora, acacia, French wood, concrete, etc. A true force in the Coteaux, these clean and expressive wines are growing a fan base around the world.
The winery chose its name after the famous French freedom writer known as Voltaire; and for Vila Voltaire, the Languedoc IS freedom
vila voltaire 'puech auriol' blanc
chardonnay & carignan blanc
The Puech Auriol Blanc is a dynamic blend of the estate’s 20-year-old vine Chardonnay, arguably France’s most important white variety, and the unique and very fresh southern French grape Carignan Blanc (from 70-year-old vines). The sandy limestone soils in these vineyards are full of ancient oyster fossils, which only add to the wine’s sea influence from the Mediterranean just to the south. The grapes are gently pressed once in the cellar, exposed to oxygen without the use of sulfur, and then must-browning before natural fermentation. The grapes co-ferment for about one month with nothing done to them until the wine is moved with its fine lees to both acacia barrels and new tanks. At this point, there is weekly batonnage for several months before a small does of sulfites, a light filtration, and bottling. The result is brilliant, showcasing beautiful floral components, lemon zest, and salty sea air. The texture in the mouth is very fresh yet has a wonderful weight full of citrus, green pears, and salty minerality, with a lovely clean finish.
vila voltaire 'puech auriol' orange
100% villard blanc
The Puech Auriol Orange is a skin-fermented expression of a local and not well-known grape variety called Villard Blanc. The vineyard plot is on a terraced slope where almost every terrace is a slightly different composition of soil, ranging from sandy marl, to rolled pebbles, to oyster fossil filled limestone. This, along with the nature of the grape and the gorgeous fruit trees and forest that surround, lead to a very layered grape that has lovely acidity and texture, perfect for extended skin time. Once at the cellar, the fermentation takes place in tank (with 10 days of skin contact before pressing), and is then moved to 160L amphora, acacia wood, and a few used oak barrels for aging. After a paper filtration, the wine is bottled with a bit of sulfites and released to the market. Although fermented with skins, the color of the grape is not remarkably dark, so the wine shows a lovely golden hue versus an ‘orange’ look. But the layers it adds to the final wine is noticeable and full of great texture. A complex nose of spice, white fruit, and wildflowers leads to a very full palate backed with acidity, mineral, cedar, and white peach.
vila voltaire 'puech auriol' rosé
aramon & cinsault
The Puech Auriol Rose is a light and freshly delicate rosé from the estate that comes from the bleed of the Gros Grains wine. Coming from a blend of 80% Aramon and 20% Cinsault (both grapes that gain extra juicy weight before harvest and are perfectly suited to bleed), the grapes are destemmed and crushed with a bit of bioprotection, and then spend about 3-4 hours macerating without sulfites before a gravity vatting. After this bleed, the blend spontaneously ferments in stainless steel tanks, and is racked 10 days after it’s complete, only having started malolactic to give a bit of round texture to the palate. The result is spectacularly fresh, full of blackcurrant, citrus, and rose in the nose, and leads to a vibrant and bright mouth feel, full of acidity, brambly berries, and a clean and expressive finish. A wonderful rosé to drink in the sun, or to pair with fatty cheese, fatty meats, or grilled fish.
vila voltaire 'puech auriol' rouge
The Puech Auriol Rouge comes from a beautiful 70-year-old bush vine Carignan vineyard in the Saint-Chinian region of Languedoc. In the DOP of Saint-Chinian, 100% Carignan is not allowed and must be blended, thus why this wine bears the IGP designation of Coteaux d’Ensérune instead. About 20% of the grapes remain in whole clusters, which aids for a slower natural fermentation that lasts about three weeks in stainless steel, and the wine is then aged for one year in both 160-liter (French) clay amphora, as well as used 600L French Tonneau. The aromatics are lively with licorice, black pepper, clove, and garrigue, leading to a delicious and very balanced palate that accentuates the savory nose with dark juicy fruit. Lovely acidity fills the mouth, silky tannins, and a depth of structure that really speaks to a sense of place, as the terroir and garrigue herbs come into focus alongside the bright and fresh fruit-forward palate.
vila voltaire 'gros grains'
aramon & cinsault
The Gros Grains is made from 80% Aramon, a local grape of southern France that was prolific in the early 1900’s, as well as 20% Cinsault. Both grapes have large berries near harvest if the rains come, thus the wine’s name, from the extra swelling from the additional water. The grapes are harvested together and begin natural fermentation in stainless steel tank after bleeding about 40% of the juice off for rose, and to bring more concentration to this already light and juicy fresh red. Bio-protection is used, which is yeast that encourages healthy microorganisms to aid in the fermentation over bad bacteria and spoilage type yeasts, so that the entire process may be done without the use of sulfites, keeping the wine as exuberant and grape forward as possible. The resulting wine is absolute dynamite, fresh with juicy black raspberries, blueberries, and garrigue herbs on the nose. The palate is verging on a ‘glou-glou’ style, so easy and crushable in weight, but has lovely depth to the blue fruits and even has a touch of rustic tannin underneath.
vila voltaire 'les orchis du mazet'
grenache, carignan, syrah
The Les Orchis du Mazet is a gorgeous and rustic Saint Chinian from mostly Grenache vines, century-old Carignan, and Syrah. The vineyards are planted next to plots of classic garrigue, in between Puisserguier and Cazedarnes, where clay and limestone are the predominant soils. The clusters of grapes are only partially destemmed and go into stainless steel for a natural fermentation with no use of sulfites (but it does see bioprotection to aid in the healthy microbial activity). After a fairly quick malolactic fermentation, the wine ages on only its fine lees in Stephane’s unique 160-liter amphora (he helped design them) for nearly a year before bottling, to aid in micro-oxygenation for the rough Carignan. The final wine shows off the finesse of Grenache and structure of old Carignan, and gives lovely and complex aromas of cocoa, marmalade, and wild herbs. The mouth has a substantial grip of tannin, while still having a fresh lift that can keep the wine paring well with white meats and even sophisticated preparations of seafood.
vila voltaire 'je suis tombé par terre'
carignan, grenahce, cabernet sauvignon, merlot
The Je Suis Tombé Par Terre represents the estate’s passion for the region by utilizing the combination of grapes and terroir that the land in Languedoc is able to give. Old bush-vine Carignan and Grenache come together with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot on sandy limestone soils, and naturally ferment separately in small stainless steel tanks before aging for one year in 300-liter used French oak. The wine is then combined in fairly equal parts to make this unique and robustly complex red blend. Ruby-hued and intensely deep in the nose, this wine is full of forest floor, black fruits, river stones, and hints of wood. In the mouth it is rustic, dark, and brooding, showing the spicy wood while not being ‘oaky’, and loaded with ripe plums, blackberries, and black cherry fruit. A very long and surprisingly fresh finish, this wine will benefit from being open for an hour or two, or poured into a decanter.
vila voltaire 'la faute'
The La Faute is an expression of only Syrah, which used to be illegal in the AOP of Saint Chinian. This comes from a gorgeous garrigue plot of 45-year-old vines, nestled between Puisserguier and Cazedarnes, with ancient limestone and clay soils. The grapes are brought to the cellar and destemmed for their natural fermentation in steel tank, and after a long maceration, the grapes go through a soft vertical pressing, and continue through malo-lactic until being moved to 600L demi-muids. The wine rests on its fine lees for two years, with only 3 or 4 rackings during this time, and then a light paper filtration before bottling with a bit of sulfites. The result is aromatic and gorgeously dark in the glass. The nose is exuberant with grapefruit, black olive, blackcurrant, and truffle, leading to an opulent palate that evolves well in the glass or a decanter. It is long in the mouth without being heavy, and dances with different savory and dark fruit expressions, begging for hard cheeses or aromatic braised dishes.