The Côtes de Blaye has a very, very different feel than Pauillac, which is just a few miles away across the Garonne estuary. No Chateaux here. Historically, this part of the Bordelais was filled with pine trees, acacia and was very much fox heaven, hence the name Grand Renard. Located in the town of Saint-Ciers, about 15 miles North of Blaye, the Joubert family own 54 acres of vines (3/4 planted with Merlot/Cab/Cab Franc/Malbec and the rest in Sauvignon Blanc/Gris).
The Jouberts used to grow cereal, asparagus, tobacco and raised cow (and they have done so for four generations), before focusing in the 80s on grape growing. When he took over the estate, Francis was very much one of the pioneers of Organic farming, having received its AB certification as early as 1987. And now, since 2002, his son Sylvain has joined him and taken over winemaking duties.
The vineyards are immaculately maintained, treated with compost made on-site from Francis’ own herd of cows. Blaye has a very particular geological history since the A.O.C rests on the ancient bed of a prehistoric river that flowed from the Massif Central to the Atlantic. The altitude ranges between 65 and 330 feet. There is a lot of sand, where mostly Merlot is grown, and clay where the Sauvignon Blanc and Gris are planted. There is also many oxidized clay “fingers” in the sub soil.