Notre Dame de Cousignac

Established in 1780 and located in the Ardèche region of France’s Rhône Valley, the estate name comes from a 6th century chapel dedicated to St. Vincent located on the grounds, as well as the nearby commune of Cousignac. There are a total of 60 estate hectares under vine divided between the Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Vivarais, IGP Ardèche, and Côtes du Rhône Village regions. Each of the vineyards has been cultivated by the Pommier family since 1780. Currently, Raphael Pommier represents the 7th generation and helps run the property. Notre Dame also sources fruit and has land holdings in Crozes-Hermitage, Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Luberon, Lirac, and Vacqueyras. There are a plethora of different soil types found in each unique growing region. Red, blue, and grey clays each lend one-of-a-kind characteristics to the grapes grown atop them. Notre Dame de Cousignac produces varietally accurate and elegantly structured wines with fresh fruit aromas, silky smooth tannins and vibrant acidity that are approachable upon release, yet can reward with proper cellaring.

Notre Dame utilizes low yields to concentrate flavors and maximize the expression of local terroirs. Careful selection of harvesting dates ensures the best phenolic maturity in the fruit and complete de-stemming of clusters prior to pressing helps preserve the integrity of each grape’s juice. No chemical components whatsoever are used to treat the estate wines and the estate has been strictly cultivated without chemicals since the 1960’s. The vineyards benefit from a natural ecosystem that helps with pest prevention. In 2010, the estate celebrated its very first certified organic vintage for all wines produced. The Pommier family works closely and has longstanding relationships with each of the growers Notre Dame sources fruit from. Those vineyards are all in the process of becoming organically certified on their own.

The winery takes measures to limit the amounts of sulphur present throughout. Maceration is closely monitored and temperature controlled, ranging from a few days for whites to 3-4 weeks for reds. Indigenous yeasts are used as often as possible to maximize the authenticity of the local terroir and all of the wines are fermented in large stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness. Each of the reds undergoes full malolactic fermentation prior to any aging. Additionally, many reds are rested or briefly aged in large cement vats before bottling or transferring to wood. For aging, Notre Dame exclusively uses large French oak foudres that hold between 60-80 hectoliters. These barrels can be anywhere from 1-40 years of age, so the impact is essentially neutral. By minimizing the influence of oak, maximum fruit expression can be achieved.