Familiarity with the grape varieties of the Pyrenean Foothills.


What is ampelography?

It is the science of the identification and description of grape varieties. It derives from two Greek words “ampelos” meaning “vine” and “graphein” meaning “to write”.
For a long time now Plaimont Producteurs, assisted by the Wine growers of Saint-Mont, have been deeply interested in ampelographic research. The Pyrenean Foothills are indeed the birthplace of the great majority of the world’s grape varieties, so we thought it was important to gain a thorough understanding of the know-how and heritage associated with our lands.

From 1950 until the beginning of the 21st century, several ampelographers and technicians drew up an inventory of the ampelographic heritage and at the same time initiated a programme of conservation for the age-old plots discovered as they explored the territory.


The Conservatoire ampélographique

2002: Plaimont Producteurs created a remarkable ampelographic conservatoire.

This is the top private conservatoire in France. The collection comprises 37 grape varieties (17 white, 19 black and 1 pink). Among these is a true lambrusque (wild vine) and a Fer Servadou mutant. 12 of these varieties are hitherto unknown originals.

2002–2004: Planting
2004–2008: Observations and maturity inspections
2008–2015: Microvinification of these varieties supported by the IFV (French Vine and Wine Institute)


The vineyard is registered as an Historical Monument of Sarragachies

Since the 70s, this very old plot was surveyed by winegrowing technicians and ampelographers and in 2011 it was referred to the Regional Cultural Affairs Board (DRAC) by the Saint Mont Wines Association who wished to register it on the Historic Monuments Supplementary List. Dominique Paillarse, who was then Director of the Midi-Pyrénées Regional Cultural Affairs Board, consulted the expertise of several ampelographers – Jean-Michel Boursiquot (Montpellier SupAgro, Higher Education Institute for Vine and Wine), Thierry Lacombe (INRA Marseillan, Marseilles Centre for National Agronomic Research), Olivier Yobrégat (IFV Sud-Ouest, South West Branch of the Institute for Vine and Wine) and Laurent Audeguin (IFV Vegetal Material Department). The end result was registration on the 18th June 2012 following a Heritage and Heritage Sites regional commission.

Why is this particular plot exceptional ?

An integral part of the family farm, this plot is located on very deep, sandy soil. There are 12 rows of relatively long twisted vine stocks, directly planted on their own vigorous and productive roots. There are 21 different varieties, including 7 unknown ones. A plot is “exceptional” when 3 particular factors are present at the same time :

  1. Venerable age
  2. Growing characteristics
  3. Encépagement (mix of wine varieties)

An undeniable status – that of being a living witness to vine-growing of the past.

According to the owners, this plot has been in existence since at least 1830. At the age of 87, René Pédebernade, spoke about it

« “My grandmother’s grandmother always knew it as an old plot.”»

He himself described it as having always been like this for as long as he could remember.

The age of the plot is now estimated to be at least 150 years. The reasons for this longevity are:

  • A sandy hill location, which hinders the spread of phylloxéra
  • Deep earth with a regular water supply
  • Attentive care given by the family
  • Wider community interest since the 1970s (family pride, scientific interest, the image of the vineyard)

The wine growers of Saint-Mont are carrying out ampelographic research and have set themselves several targets for the coming years :

  • Continue with the conservation of our local heritage
  • Become familiar with the forgotten varieties and those that are more commonly used
  • Maintain the typicality of our wines
  • Address the impact of climate change