La Vallée des Arômes
The multiple award-winning chardonnay from a small cooperative in Southern France
by Dora Haller
Southern France's Languedoc-Roussillon region is the single biggest wine-producing area in the whole world. Vineyards of all sizes can be found among the region's 700,000 acres stretching from Provence to the border of Spain, but one standout we recently had the pleasure of tasting is from a small cooperative called Cave des Côteaux de Capimont. Founded two decades ago near the village of Hérépian, their 2012 chardonnay, La Vallée des Arômes, won a Concours Général gold medal at the 2013 Paris International Agricultural Show. The fruity, lively bottle also took home first place at the regional competition of coops, and was awarded with the third prize at the annual Chardonnay du Monde competition in Paris in March.
"20 years ago our vineyard was on the verge of extinction," says Philippe Coste, the cooperative's chairman. "Everybody told us we shouldn’t produce wine in this mountain area that it was meant for fruit production and livestock breeding. But we were a group of stubborn young people, and we did not give up. We planted unusual varieties of vines, mostly chardonnay, and lined them up with thyme, rosemary and broom, flavors that can be found in our wines. Our efforts paid off—for years now, our white and pink wines are regularly recognized."
According to Coste the quality of the earth and the early morning breezes also helped in recently winning him another award. The first weekend of June 2013, the bottle won first prize at the 2013 "Coup de Cœur de femmes journalistes," where female journalists from France and abroad judged the award-winning wines of the region.
"Somehow the non-typical taste of our wines pleases women more than men. But in general, it is so hard to please women; it is nice to succeed for once," he says.
Images by Dora Haller