The vibrant little seaport town of Collioure is nestled on the Mediterranean coast, just north of the Spanish border, in the area known as French Catalonia. In 1981, Vincent Cantié and Christine Campadieu took over two small, family-owned domaines where they had grown up, in Collioure and Banyuls (only about 2 km away), respectively. Together, they farm vineyards planted on steep, schist terraces overlooking the sea, where they are constantly exposed to the fierce and wily wind known as “La Tramontagne.” This constant wind not only ensures naturally low yields, but also keeps the grapes free of mildew with little need for pesticides or copper sulfate. Their vineyards are so steep that cultivation must be by hand, and extensive irrigation canals and walls (all made from the schist rock) are their only prevention against soil erosion, although there is almost no soil left to recede! These canals snake down the hillsides, separating the parcels. At harvest, the grapes are carried up and down the mountain in baskets. This method of farming, while extremely challenging, preserves the traditions of their ancestors. Severe viticulture at its best!
The Puig Ambeille is a blend of very low yield 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, 10% Carignan from a steeply terraced vineyard spanning a total of 13 hectares. . Traditional vinification is carried out with the grapes destemmed and half-crushed before a long maceration of 5 weeks. The temperature is controlled for fermentation, with traditional method of extraction by pumping over and delestage (“punching the cap” by foot). A small part of this cuvée is aged in a oak barrel called “demi-muids” for around 8 months. Only 4,000 bottles are produced. Alcohol is 15%.