Domaine des Tourettes (Guffens-Heynen / Verget)

Many in the wine world will recognise Jean-Marie Guffen's name, not least because of accolades from figures like Robert Parker, who celebrated him as one of the preeminent white Burgundy winemakers. Renowned for his transformative impact in Burgundy's Mâconnais with Domaine Guffens-Heynen and his négociant firm Verget, Jean-Marie's influence in Burgundy is indisputable. Jean-Marie's audacious venture into the Lubéron region near Apt in southern France reveals an unyielding spirit of innovation. At Château des Tourettes, he and his wife, Maine Guffens-Heynen, have not only redefined this estate but also showcased the untapped potential of the region.

The story so far...

Château des Tourettes marked a novel chapter for Maine and Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynen. Venturing to France from Belgium in 1976, the pair were inspired to learn the intricacies of the French language and viniculture. Their commitment led to the birth of the distinguished Domaine Guffens-Heynen in Bourgogne by 1979. Yet, after gaining renown through this iconic domaine and the eminent negociant firm, Verget, Jean-Marie felt a growing unease with Burgundy's shifting trends and spiralling costs. By 1997, this sentiment propelled them towards Lubéron. Their story with Château des Tourettes began with its purchase that year, positioned just a few miles from the town of Apt in the south-eastern Rhône Valley. Undaunted by the region's warmer climate, the estate's altitude at 420m offered a relatively cool microclimate, ensuring optimal growing conditions. They revitalised the vineyards, rejuvenated the soils, and infused new life into the terrain, replacing older, virused, and less productive vines. Here, they aimed to merge their seasoned expertise with the refreshing essence of the Rhône, defying traditional appellation confines and revealing the untapped potential of the high-altitude vineyards.

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in the vineyard

Château des Tourettes embodies a remarkable transformation journey. From a vineyard previously overshadowed by chemical misuse, it has flourished into an estate that spans 19 hectares, boasting a blend of both classic and unique varietals. Presently, 15 hectares of these vines are almost evenly divided between white grapes—like Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier—and reds, including Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet-Sauvignon.

Nestled within a national preserve, the estate is a harmonious blend of wildflowers, ancient vines, and olive groves, epitomising the soul of southern France. Positioned at 400m elevation, and with some plots reaching the heights of the notable Plateau de l'Aigle, the vineyard reaps the benefits of a distinct microclimate. This altitude ensures the wines retain a freshness, harmonising with the lush ripeness that the sun-bathed region naturally imparts.

in the winery

Drawing inspiration from Burgundian practices, the cellar adopts a meticulous approach. Post-harvest, only the finest juices are selected, ensuring inherent acidity and character. The wines age for 8 months in barrels, with a quarter being new, followed by another 10 months on fine lees, adding layers of depth.

The winery resonates with a Burgundian touch, employing modified vertical presses, concrete tanks, and barrels borrowed from Verget. Each wine, following natural yeast fermentation, is aged in a mix of cement eggs, stainless steel tanks, and barrels.

By strategically choosing the Vin de France denomination over the AOC, they harness the creative freedom to craft wines that mirror their vision and the region's distinct character.

GRAPE VARIETIES: 

Whites: Chardonnay, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier

Reds: Cabernet Franc, Grenache Noir, Syrah 

in the press

"Guffens’ mastery of technique is complete, but he is not a technical winemaker: it is his aesthetic, not his methods, which indelibly marks his wines. Forty years ago, no one would have imagined that the Mâconnais could produce wines which approach so nearly the apotheosis of Chardonnay, and as Guffens enters his seventh decade, he believes he’s doing the best work of his career. It’s time for the world to rediscover him." 

William Kelley  - Rebel Aesthetic: the wines of Jean-Marie Guffens

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