Domaine Chante Cigale is located within the village of Cháteauneuf-du-Pape and has been owned by the Sabon Favier family for several generations. Consisting of 41 hectares, the domaine benefits from old vines, some of which are veritably ancient at over 100 years old. Alexandre Favier took over from his father, Christian, and is part of a new wave of producers in Cháteauneuf-du-Pape, combining modern technical expertise with time-honoured winemaking practices. Alexandre is lauded by notable journalists including Steve Danzier and Jancis Robinson for his deftly-made and reasonably-priced wines. Domaine Chante Cigale has also built a reputation for specialising in white wines, of which they produce more than any other estate in the appellation.
Alex Favier inherited 37 different blocks of vineyards from his mother, Marie-Paule Sabon, comprising 50 hectares in total, making Domaine Chante Cigale one of the larger domaines of this most famous of French appellations. The terroir of Cháteauneuf-du-Pape is made up of three different soil types and those domaines with vines on all three consequentially gain in complexity For his reds, Alex has a typically large palette of varieties but his old vine cuvée uses only Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvédre as these are his oldest vines and they provide the wine with great intensity and longevity. The vines for this bottling are over 65 years old, some as old as 100, and they are some of the oldest vines to be found on the plateau de Carbiéres (close to Cháteau Montredon). The yield of these Vieilles Vignes' is very, very low indeed; the 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.
Alex learned about viticulture and vinification from his father and took over from him whilst finishing his last year at school in 1999; eventually taking full control of the domaine in 2002. Each variety is vinified separately and undergoes an 18-24 day fermentation and a 32-36 day maceration period. Malolactic fermentation and ageing takes place in a combination of new oak barriques and concrete vats. Alex no longer uses the traditional larger casks known as foudres' for his Vieilles Vignes.
Intense and inky dark, with a concentrated, rich and complex nose of kirsch, bay and graphite. Very full bodied and weighty with some evident tannins, and there's a brooding power from such low yields. Despite its heft, the old vines provide great complexity and a finish that is mineral and fresh.
Try with rich meat such as lamb, beef or venison, either grilled or with a spicy or peppery sauce, or with duck paté.