One day in May 2006, Anne-Marie and Jean-Louis Charmolüe, regular visitors to Provence since 1955, came across the remarkable site of Château Romanin and it was love at first sight. Jean-Louis Charmolüe, descendant of a family who has took Château Montrose (Second Grand Cru Classé Saint-Estèphe) in Bordeaux to new heights of excellence, instantly felt a strong connection to Domaine de Château Romanin and its remarkable past. This interesting turn of events led to the joining of their respective destinies.
Two places and two stories now bound together.
The start of 2018 remains marked by the passing of Jean-Louis Charmolüe, a great and visionary winemaker, who used to say, «there is always a story behind great estates.» And this is true because, from Greek to Roman times, from the Middle Ages to the present day, events, characters and poetry have featured throughout the history of Chateau Romanin, a unique place where you can still find the ruins of a Knights Templar château standing at the foot of the Alpilles mountains.
Anne-Marie and Jean-Louis Charmolüe acquired Château Romanin in 2006. Possessed with an energy as strong as that which runs through the site that clearly had potential, they set themselves a twofold challenge: to write a new chapter in the history of the Domaine and produce outstanding wines. The couple embarked down a path that would lead to the introduction of the high standards and precision work typically employed at the great wine estates, magnified by shared emotions and the hedonism of the location. The deep, full-bodied wines and the olive oils with perfumes of Provence are now finding their perfect balance.
Today, Anne-Marie Charmolüe, the owner and manager of Château Romanin, continues the quest for excellence. Driven by her sense of duty and own resolve, she is intent on writing a new story in Provence.
A place steeped in history
In Greek times, Romanin was a place of worship dedicated to the goddess Artemis and, in the time of the Gauls, druids used to gather at Romanin to worship the ancient mother goddess, Anna, who later became St. Anne. The Romanin vineyards were already producing a famous wine at the time, which was exported as «wine of Theopolis.”
A Roman descendant of King Magus Balthazar
Legend has it that the Roman patrician and last prefect of the Gauls, Claudius Pastumus Dardanus, acquired the Romanin estate through marriage. He worked the estate’s vineyards and shipped its wines to the great Roman cities of the time. It was he who built the first Romanin fort, to protect his estate.
13th century, the building of Château Romanin
In 1203, the Lord of Romanin, Raymond de Gantelme, entered the order of the Knights Templar and travelled to the Holy Land, returning with three chests and the veil of St. Anne (mother of the Virgin Mary), conserved in the Cathedral of Apt.
Placed on a map, the 16-point star of the Moustiers, dear to Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914, French writer and lexicographer of the Occitan language), points to a number of different locations, including that of Château Romanin and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
When he returned from the Crusades, Raymond de Gantelme began the construction of Château Romanin on the ruins of the fort. The work was carried out by the “Oeuvre du Pont”, a brotherhood of builders associated with the Knights Templar. The construction of the château took into consideration the summer and winter solstices, the positions of the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations, the planets of Mars, Venus and Jupiter, the path of the sun and the full moon.
19th century, the Château in ruins
The owners of Romanin in the 19th century built a sugar factory not far from the Château, using stones from the Château. It burnt to the ground in a fire in 1851.
It is one of the very first « architect’s cellars », so trendy nowadays.
A unique terroir - the benign Mistral wind
Inspiring and astounding. Few places are able to capture the eye and exert such a strong attraction as Romanin. Situated between Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Eygalières, a white winding road invites you to make the slow 2 km drive up to the Château Romain estate. Here you are enveloped and captivated by nature, in the rough and majestic.
On the northern slope of the Alpilles, there lies a circle of craggy rocks, which is home to our 250-hectare estate (among which 58 hectares of vineyards, 4 hectares of olive trees and 2.5 hectares of almond trees), all of which are cultivated with the same loving care. The vines, protected by the garrigue scrubland and the olive and almond groves, cling to the ruins of a 13th century Knights Templar château with a rich historical past.
The geological configuration of the estate, combined with exceptional updrafts, give the red, white and rosé wines a distinctive character and remarkable depth. The stones store the heat during the day and return it to the vines at night. The Mistral Wind helps to cool the vines. These phenomena allow the grapes to ripen gently, which is ideal for achieving a better balance between alcoholic degree and acidity.
Here again, the elements come together in respect and harmony. Here there are unique phenomena at work that accompany the wines and olive oils, the fruit of the earth, the sun and the moon, magnified by the work of men.
& Biodynamic growing
Biodynamics is the art of using the gifts and vital forces of nature to create outstanding products. Biodynamics is a word which describes the links between the cycles of nature, the vines, the climate, and the work of men, along with demanding agronomic techniques. It is a term which attests to a sustainable mode of viticulture which strives to create balance in the plants and bring out the finest expression of a terroir.
Nestled in the heart of a unique natural formation, Château Romanin has been using biodynamics since 1988, the date of its creation by Jean-Pierre Peyraud (investor) and Jean-André Charial (owner of the Relais & Château, Domaine de Baumanière).
With organic growing as a prerequisite, biodynamics seeks to rehabilitate and reinvigorate the exchange between the plant and its environment. Château Romanin’s goal is to obtain finer quality grape berries in order to create outstanding wines. By increasing organic life and enhancing its environment allows us to craft products that do honour to the terroirs. As you might expect, chemical weed killers are banned when working biodynamically. In order to heal, nourish and preserve the plants, growers use plant and mineral-based preparationsprays, Bordeaux mixture, sulphur, horsetail or valerian concoctions and life-giving water.
Depending on its location and the nature of its soil (porous, claylimestone and stony), each vine asserts its particular character and strengths, interacting with the elements and the stars, worked with great care and constant attention by the men of Château Romanin. Before loving wine, you have to love the grape. You have to learn how to observe it and taste it, to allow you to identify when a plot is reaching the perfect degree of maturity and to determine the best time to start harvesting. We respect the passing of the seasons and a set of stringent specifications in order to produce the finest of grapes which, in turn, create broad, ethereal wines, well-blended and possessing great freshness and perfect balance.
Demeter® & Biodyvin® Certifications
Château Romanin’s wines are certified Demeter for the red and Biodyvin for the red, white and rosé. These accredited organizations guarantee that Château Romanin respects the very strict specifications demanded by biodynamic growing.
The savoir-faire to create excellence - Demanding viticulture and winemaking
The Charmolüe era combines traditional knowhow with high-performance equipment to enable first class viticulture and winemaking. . In an effort to work sustainably and to enable us to carry out precise and innovative vinification work, Anne-Marie and Jean-Louis Charmolüe invested in two vat rooms and a harvest reception facility. The latter is home to two pneumatic presses making us more proactive and responsive and thereby enabling us to wait for the perfect date of maturity. A cold room has also been built to preserve the quality and aromatic precursors of the grapes for the white and rosé wines.
In 2015, we replaced the vats for the white and rosé wines; in 2016 it was the turn of those used for the red wines.
With this new equipment, the vineyard and winery technical team has obtained greater autonomy, effectiveness and adaptability to the Domaine’s microclimates.
Human skills and knowledge and harvesting by hand are combined with new techniques to prevent thermal shocks and preserve the integrity of the grapes and juices. The transformation and ageing of the wines are facilitated by our high-performance facilities, allowing each vintage to express itself to the full and obtaining greater precision while respecting the grapes. This is performance in the name of excellence.
The work of men - Tending the vines
Where would the wines be without the work carried out by men and women in the vineyards?
Whatever its location, a vineyard always reflects a history, a place, a natural environment and, of course, the investment of man. Like an original encounter, the Earth responds to the knowhow of man who is able to listen to it; man who is able to work the vine according to its minerality, exposure and individual traits. The grapes thus obtained then undergo the processes required for their transformation until they ultimately become the prized liquid in the bottle.
At Château Romanin, in addition to vineyard manager/cellar master, Théo Buravand, the team includes 6 viticulturalist, this team is dedicated to managing the vineyards, aided by additional staff brought in for the major tasks. Because, before producing its grapes, the vine goes through various stages of growth, each essential to the quality of the future harvest. The tying of the shoots, pruning, disbudding, green harvesting and the tillage of the soil are therefore always carried out with constant care and attention.
This warrants our special attention. In order to manage the vine’s growth, judicious pruning must be carried out with each vine receiving individual attention to ensure that it feeds properly and that its sap does not get diverted.
Treatments are carried out in accordance with the seasons and
biodynamic principles. We are hard at work in the vineyards, constantly tending to the vine, from March to November. After the winter pruning, the vineyards are treated. When the moon is waning, it is time for us to spray the cow-horn manure, to protect the foot of the vines, covered up with soil at the start of the winter (butting), before carrying out the work required to get the vine ready for the coming vegetative cycle leading up to the future harvest. Pruning is carried out by hand with the cut wood ground up and scattered over the earth.
– In the spring, disbudding enables us to balance the load of grapes on each vine; the relevage (tying up of the shoots) domesticates the vine that grows like a creeper, sliding the shoots between the double wires; de-leafing helps to ensure that the future clusters of grapes will be in good health.
– In the summer, green harvesting is carried out if necessary. This reduces the number of clusters on each vine and helps the grapes to ripen and develop greater concentration. This, combined with a control of the photosynthesis, calls on traditional knowhow and the use of age-old growing techniques.
– End August/start September, the harvest is carried out by hand and the grapes placed into small crates to protect the clusters of each grape variety, managed according to the wine it is intended for. Every day, the technical team tastes the grapes from each plot and carries out analyses to determine the best date for the harvest.
In the vineyards, there are men and women. At the head of the estate, a woman, who continues the work of a man, who was a visionary and wine connoisseur, constantly striving for excellence.