70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre
Each variety is vinified separately and undergoes an 18-24 day fermentation and 32-36 day maceration. Malo-lactic fermentation and ageing takes place in large oak barrels (40%), with 30% respectively in new small oak barrels and vats. The 2006 Vieilles Vignes was matured in both vat and barrel, in a 70% to 30% proportion; Alex no longer uses the traditional larger casks known as ‘foudres’ for his Vieilles Vignes, preferring the finesse smaller 228 litre barrels bring.
Alex Favier inherited on his mother’s side, Marie-Paule Sabon, 37 different blocks of vineyards comprising 50 hectares in total, making Domaine Chante Cigale one of the larger domaines of this most famous of French appellations. In fact Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first appellation contrôlée wine in France, gaining this status in 1936. The terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is in fact made up of the different types and those domaines with blocks on all three consequentially gain in complexity. The three types are the famous rolling stones (known as ‘galets roulés in French and by some British writers as ‘pudding stones’), together with sandy soils and finally those soils with mixed sand and small stones. Alex is a top producer of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape so has Roussanne, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc; for his reds he has a typically large palette of red varieties but for his ‘old vine’ cuvée uses only Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvèdre as these are the oldest and importantly deliver the most intensity and longevity on the final wine. The vines for the Vieilles Vignes are over 65 years old and are some of the oldest vines to be found on the plateau de Carbières (close to Château Montredon). ‘Vieilles Vignes’ means simply ‘old vines’ in French. The average age of Alex’s vines are between 40 and 50 years old, but some of his oldest vines are over 110 years old and were planted just after the phylloxera epidemic at the turn of the last century.The average for ‘Vieilles Vignes’ is around 20hl/ha, so very, very low indeed; the very oldest vines may only yield a miniscule 15hl/ha, most others around 22-23 hl/ha, bringing the average to around 20hl/ha. Harvesting is by hand, with selective sorting of the grapes. From his father Alex learned all about viticulture and vinification and took over from Christian Favier whilst finishing his last year at school in 1999; later in 2002 Alex took full charge of the domaine.
Meat such as lamb, beef or venison, either grilled or with a spicy or peppery sauce, or with duck paté.