Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Narbonnaise offers many high quality lands that men have managed for the cultivation of vines for more than two millennia. From Ancient Greek civilization, viticulture was established on the coast since the 5th century BC. The foundation of the Roman colony of Narbonne (Narbo Martius) in 118 BC aided and increased development. As a legacy of ancient viticultural know-how, the size of the goblet vine remains the most widespread. This technique which forms stocky and solid stocks, is particularly adapted to the windy regions.
Feet of 1st century wine amphorae, Bizanet.
Following the Frankish conquest in the 8th century of Septimania (the name of the ancient Narbonnaise), the foundation of numerous abbeys and priories contributed to give a new boost to local viticulture. The monastic communities selected and propagated the Carignan, Grenache and Cinsault grape varieties, still widely cultivated today. From the 14th century, the region, which had regained a strong viticultural identity, began to be called "Lengadòc", in reference to the Occitan language spoken by inhabitants.
Priory of Saint Amans (Xth century.), Bizanet.
For two centuries, eight generations have passed on wine-making knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit within the Barsalou family. After the phylloxera attack between 1882 and 1887, the whole vineyard was replanted thanks to the use of rootstocks of American origin resistant to this pest. During this time, demand for Languedoc wine grew rapidly on a national scale. In response to this, the winegrowers turned to monoculture. From the beginning of the 20th century, wines from family production were rewarded at the national agricultural competition in Paris.
Harvest in Bizanet, 1948.
From the 1960's, the restructuring of regional wine production began, Languedoc viticulture experienced a rapid improvement in quality. In 1974, Claire and Yves Barsalou acquired the Domaine de Saint Maurice estate, where they enlarged the winery. They continued the development of the family business with their two sons, Éric and Jean-Yves, by taking over the vineyard and the cellar of Château Villenouvette in 1981. The same year, they produced their first cuvée of rosé wine at Domaine de Saint Maurice.
Domaine de Saint-Maurice, 1976.
Following the planting of new plots and the modernisation of the winery of Saint Maurice, in 1984 the family began to make white wine. While preserving the traditional Languedoc grape varieties, northern and western varieties were established on rootstocks tolerant to summer drought. Efforts for the renewal of the vineyard and the equipment of the cellars were continued in order to diversify the family production in wines of Pays d'Oc and of appellation d’origine contrôlée (Protected designation of origin) ‘Corbières’ and ‘Languedoc’ wines. In 1996, a barrel cellar was set up on the original family property which took the name of Château Aumèdes.
Planting of vines in the Château Villenouvette estate, 1995.
In 2006, Jean-Yves Barsalou created the Domaines Barsalou company, to develop sales of wine in bottles and for the export market. His son, Guillaume, joined the family business in 2010. Today the wines are imported in around twenty countries. From French gastronomy to spicy Far East dishes, Domaines Barsalou wines are a perfect match for different types of cuisine and flavours from all around the world.