Jean and Jeanne
We are never here by chance. And if we are all, human beings, the descendants of poor peasants, when one is born in Catalonia or in Languedoc, near the Mediterranean, peasantry is first of all wine growing. Because the vine was also born and raised here on these poor lands baked by the sun and the winds. So the little story joins the big one. The Ancienne Mercerie was really a haberdashery run by François’ grandmother Jeanne, who was also a talented seamstress. It was also Jean the grandfather, a wine grower who never drank wine. They had come in 1947 from the nearby Aveyron to settle in Autignac to grow vines and produce table wine, as this was the only possible outlet for regional wines at the time. On my mother’s side, another wine-growing family in the Gard this time, with vines, but also melons, asparagus and cherries, as the land is more fertile there than on the Hérault hillsides. In Autignac, not all the land is worthwhile, and Jean and Jeanne bought the house with a few vines located north of the village. But at that time Faugères was only the name of a village already known for the quality of its wines and its brandy. These lands, today classified as AOP Faugères, produced few grapes 3 or 4 times less than the lands located south of Autignac. As wine is considered and paid for in the same way by the wine trade, Jean spent his whole life trying to buy good plots. He succeeded. When he died in 1986, they were sold. The land just classified as Faugères did not find a buyer. And in 2000, like a loop, the story began again.
The small wines of the Midi, now great wines of the Languedoc
Contrary to popular belief, the poor quality of wines from the South of France for almost a century was not due to a lack of quality, but to the existence of a market for so-called table wines or wines for everyday consumption. People drank wine like water, sometimes instead of water, at all ages and in all circumstances. The volumes required were very large and the southern soils were exceptionally well suited to vine growing. This table wine was produced all over France and the southern one was probably not the worst. In order to produce fine wines with a reputation, it was necessary to have access to certain luxury markets, often international, which was not the case here. This market for table wines has now fortunately dried up, and a revolution has taken place. It is still fermented grapes and therefore wine, but almost everything is different: the grape varieties and in the cellar the methods of vinification and maturation. On the fertile lands are produced today wines in IGP (the ex Vins de Pays), and on the hillsides were delimited the Appellations of Origin, Crus du Languedoc, able to produce (and sell) very great wines.
We still pick the grapes in the same containers, with the same wheelbarrow… The truck is no longer in use.