WINE ESTATE

The Château de la Robine tells a story of people and vineyards in the Drôme Provençale. With more than two centuries of quality wine making, and as a family owned estate since 1887, each generation of the family has made its contribution.

A family story

In 1887, the Château de la Robine became part of the family’s estate. Our grandfather Victor Veyre, a farmer and distiller-liquorist acquired this vast domain that produced wine and cereals at the time. He built a cellar and started creating distinguished wines that are classified as Crus of the Côtes du Rhône. His son, Eugene continued this endeavour with his wife Marguerite Roudet de Rouville. Eugene was actively involved in the winegrowers’Union, over which he presided in the early 1940s.

Their nephew, Pierre Fabre, took over the estate and ran it from 1953 to 1980. He restored and improved it considerably by planting fruit trees, olive trees and plots of red Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, which now constitute the oldest vines on the estate.

His son Michel Fabre assumed this responsibility for the next 30 years. He continued the expansion of the vineyard with plantings of Syrah, red Grenache and Chardonnay, established an olive grove and implemented sound practices, such as natural grassing
in the vineyard in 1995. This was very innovative in the region, at a time when grass and biodiversity were seen as competition for vine and yield. In 2010, Michel entrusted the management of the estate to his eldest daughter, Élise, who had just completed her agronomy studies.

Élise restructured the vineyard with the planting of white varieties: Viognier, Grenache and Clairette. She pursued the same environmentally empathic approach, in particular through working the soil between the rows of vines, adding organic matter and preserving and enhancing biodiversity.

In 2018, her brother, Sébastien Fabre took on the estate and settled there with his
partner, Anne-Aël ( more information in the section The winemakers )

The vineyard

The Château de la Robine is in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in the Rhône Valley, in the heart of the Drôme Provençale. The estate has 30 hectares of vines, of which 25 hectares are in AOC (Controlled Origin Certification) Grignan-les-Adhémar and 5 hectares are in IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) Mediterranean region – County of Grignan.

Enjoying a terroir on the high and very high alluvial terraces of the Rhone, the vineyard spreads on alluvial terrain and on hillsides that were formerly scrubland, with clay-limestone soils, loamy sands, pebbles and scree.

This terroir has been exploited since Antiquity, as evidenced by the many Roman remains present in the region. The second vineyard exploitation by the Romans discovered to date was found about ten kilometres away from the estate. Writings attest to the continuity of the culture of the vine and the production of wines in the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance. Since that time, this vineyard region has steadily grown and in 1964 it was recognised for its quality wines through its nomination as an appellation.

We find on the estate different varieties of grape, from the most typical of the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Carignan) to the less common (Chardonnay) or the relatively unknown (Clairette). The presence of old vines of more than 50 years of age (Carignan, Grenache) allows the production of complex and elegant wines.

Vine management philosophy

The vine is cultivated using a reasoned approach based on the following principles:

Respect and health of the plant :
– Reducing mineral deficiencies based on observations and laboratory analysis ifnecessary,
– Optimisation of natural organic matter (shredding of vines, grassing) in order to promote the fixation of mineral elements and to improve the capacity of the soil to retain water. Reasonable addition of external organic matter,
– Tillage of inter-row and row to promote root penetration, reduce evaporation and limit water competition within the row.

Quality :
– a moderate pruning of vegetation and maximum leaf height before harvest,
– manual green work: regular pruning and leaf thinning adapted to the grape varieties,
– the health of the plot and the grapes,
– the limitation and choice of inputs (no use of fungal anti-mildew and anti-oidium treatments classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic),
– the application of inputs under optimal conditions: modern and efficient equipment, night sprays at low temperature and light wind, regular maintenance of equipment.

Biodiversity :
– Natural grassing with a high diversity of local plants,
– Slashing of the inter-rows and around the parcels before spraying to protect bees and other pollinating insects,
– absence d’utilisation d’insecticides.

Winemaking

Until the mid-1940s, wines of Château de la Robine were created and matured on the estate in a special cellar and classified as Cru under the Côtes du Rhône appellation. In 1962, the estate joined the cooperative La Suzienne in Suze-la-Rousse and started to contribute its harvest to the co-op. Eager to value the old vines and the quality of the vineyard, Michel and Élise later decided to select their best parcels of grapes and created a cuvée de domaine red wine, in 2014. This was the revival of wines labelled as Château de la Robine. In 2018, Anne-Aël and Sébastien expanded this trial with 4 new Château de la Robine cuvées: two reds, one white, one rosé.

For more information on the winemaking, see the technical data sheets of each cuvée (link to the wines)

The olive grove

The olive trees are either isolated trees, or are trees grown in small plots of half a hectare or planted in landscape alignments. Each plot is currently under tillage, but the option of permanent grassing is under study. The landscape alignments are grassed with local species growing naturally.

Inputs are minimal. A few pounds of organic fertilizer or manure are sufficient to ensure a satisfactory production.

Treatments are usually limited to the use of Bordeaux mixture for the prevention of peacock eye, a fungus on the leaf that suffocates the tree by preventing its photosynthesis.

Depending on the year, and especially depending on the prevalence of fly infestation, the olives are harvested at varying maturity stages, ranging from intense green, fruity green to fruity black.