CHAPELLE de NOVILIS, organic chart and taking care of people
It is in Maraussan, south of France, a few kilometres north-west of Béziers, in the heart of the Languedoc vineyards that the team of CHAPELLE de NOVILIS cultivates 16 hectares of vines in organic farming and produces organic wines in red, White and rosé under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Coteaux d’Ensérune.
The farm is made up of a mosaic of grape varieties: Vermentino, Viognier, Grenache gris and Marsanne for whites; Cinsault, Carignan, Alicante, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot for reds; Tempranillo, Cinsault and Vermentino for rosé.
All are cultivated with patience and softness on mainly clay-limestone and deep soils. This terroir, combined with a meticulous work in the vineyard and in the cellar, gives our wines their freshness, elegance and fineness.
Nathalie Jeannot, winemaker of passion and conviction
At the age of 50, in March 2011, I decided to change my professional life and live my passion for WINE and LIFE. Following a year of personal reflection, I offered to my brother-in-law, Laurent Pegolotti, winegrower, to think about associate us and create our own wine cellar, our wine range, and go in search of their amateurs. We exchanged, discussed, reflected, and 8 months later, in November, CHAPELLE de NOVILIS born.
«We did not know it was impossible, so we did it»
In March 2011, Laurent exploited 22 very bad state hectares of vines. The vineyard was dying after having had very beautiful hours until the late 1970s, early 1980s. Like so many others in Languedoc, it was victim at this time of the most violent wine market crisis in the history. This was the beginning of an infernal spiral for exploitation, both economically and culturally.
Invested by our faith in ourselves and a visceral inability to hear some sceptics who kept telling us that this project was doomed to failure, we created CHAPELLE de NOVILIS in November 2011.
Within 5 years only, we have torn 6 too neglected ha of vines and began to restore those with high qualitative potential that could still be saved; we planted 2.5 ha on unused plots; we built a 280 m² cellar dedicated to the production of high-end wines, and went to meet the first lovers of our wines;
We started by vinifying the equivalent of 1.7 ha in 2012 to progressively vinify 12 today, as the qualitative work we put in place on our plots to allow our vines to offer top of the line grapes.
Our small yields, very qualitative, gave us to sell our first 2,000 bottles in 2013 to reach 13,000 bottles in 2016.
We will grow at our cruising speed in 2019, with the annual production and sale of 35,000 bottles.
Our wines are recognized and prized in France and abroad by private customers, independent retailers, bistronomic or gastronomic tables, some of which are starred, as well as Relais Châteaux.
CHAPELLE de NOVILIS, a special cellar of haute couture wines in Languedoc
I am often asked the question: “And in 10 years, how do you see CHAPELLE de NOVILIS? ”
I hope it faithful to what the lovers of our wines say today: “These wines are unexpected in Languedoc! Of such a freshness! “A great finesse and such elegance! A real signature on all wines “. I see it becoming what the whole team works hard for each day: a special cellar of haute couture wines in Languedoc.
An ancestral land
A 1,200-year-old architectural domain
II century BC
In 110 BC, a Gallo-Roman villa, whose remains are still buried today, is built 150 meters from the current estate. The vine has been established since then. In 500 AD, the domain is part of the kingdom of the Visigoths like all the Lower Languedoc. Visigoth tombs are also updated in the 1970s during work around the bourgeoise house present in the place and dating from the end of the XIXth century.
In the 9th century, the Lord Walchaire, a Visigoth, owns the domain. He built a church there: St. Mary's Church, consecrated in 897. This church is the architectural origin of the present domain, we can still see the Romanesque art bell tower. Under the influence of the clergy, the cultivation of the vine knew a great revival in the field as in all Languedoc.From this time on, the domain is called Domain de Villenouvette, meaning "Free City", free of taxes /taxes on trade, as flourished in other places some others Villenouvette or others Villefranche, with the same meaning.The centuries passed, but the culture of the vine would never leave the place. Over the centuries, the Domain of Villenouvette is successively the property of powerful and close to the kings lords.
In 1219, Pierre IV de Villeneuve founded the motto "Sicut sol emicat ensis": "Like the sun, the sword gushes forth! "And he creates the first blazon "De Gueules Gules with a golden sun" De Gueules is the name given to this specific "red".
A quite exceptional female parenthesis in the 14th century, since it is a woman who is owner of the domain. Her name is Jeanne NOVILIS. This name Novilis, given the original language of Oc, twin sister of Catalan, can sometimes appear as Nobilis.
XVth – XIXth century
As for many ancient places, the period from the 15th to the 18th century is a great black hole because of the disappearance of written traces and various notarial acts burned during the revolution.
Napoleonic cadastral map of 1830 presenting the Castle of the domain (figure on the right on the map).
The castle was destroyed at the french Revolution. Only one tower is remaining (small "ergot" at the northwest point on the map of the castle, here the north is to the right of the plan)
After the Revolution, the religious activity in the church ceases. A plaque on the wall of the house adjoining the church which was to be the presbytery still shows "Mr. Olivier, Cure, 1761". The area being in flood zone, the roof of the church is destroyed to build a dwelling out of water in its place.
XXth century: The Maury-Pegolotti family in command of the domain of Villenouvette
1950: Henri Maury, from a long line of winegrowers, and his wife Jeanne, buy the domain of Villenouvette and the vines that surround it. They settled in the 19th century bourgeoise house, built on part of the site of the castle destroyed during the Revolution, and of which at the present time remains only a truncated tower. They have three children: Henriette, Nicole and Philippe.
1960: Henriette Maury and her husband René Pegolotti take over the domain's reindeer and participate actively in its growing. They both settle in the dwelling above the church of Sainte-Marie. For practical reasons, what remains of the church will become a place of use, regularly subjected to flooding: various storage, workshop, and later installation of the boiler of the house.
1961: On the farm side, Henriette and René produce bulk wine but are also pioneers, for Languedoc, in the production and sale of bottled wine. They produce up to 35,000 bottles, mainly sold in the Puy-de-Dôme from where René is originated. Unfortunately, this activity will soon be abandoned due to lack of human resources. René cannot manage the sale of the bottles that drives him away from the cultivation and the cultivation at the same time. So he ceases the production of bottles and refocuses on the cultivation and the production of wine in bulk.
1980: The crisis in the wine market caught up with exploitation. The prices of the bulk collapsed.
1985: Putting the economic health of the company in jeopardy, the winemaking at the domain is totally abandoned. The grapes are sold as fresh harvest at the Coopérative des Vignerons du Pays d'Ensérune. René and Henriette decided to diversify the company's activity and invested in a more profitable production: the plums of Ente, a variety intended to make dried prunes and sent to Agen.The visibility of the domain in the world of wine gently extinguished.
1990: Laurent, the youngest son of René and Henriette, is 26 years old. He has been working with his father for a very young age. He takes over the head of the farm at the retirement of his parents. The production of plums of Ente is then more important than that of the vine but is nevertheless always present and its grape continues to be brought to the cooperative of the Vignerons of the Country of Ensérune.
XXIst century: birth of CHAPELLE de NOVILIS
There are men and women who, in the midst of their lives, change the curve of their path and offer the same turn to a loved one, but also a new history to the place that surrounds them.
It is the crossing of two destinies, that of a woman in love with the earth, passionate about wine, and a man born in the vine, which allows the renewal of the domain and the birth of CHAPELLE de NOVILIS.
Laurent Pegolotti has been working alone for 20 years now and is running out of steam. It has been difficult for him to go through the crisis years that still marked the 1990s and 2000s, to make the necessary strategic decisions and to invest. Exploitation is at bay.
After more than 20 years of career in a large pharmaceutical industry group, her sister-in-law Nathalie Jeannot decides to refocus on what she sees as essential: land and weather, wine and Time, human and pleasure to live and work together.This is Christmas season. Nathalie is there for a few days to prune the vine with Laurent for the second consecutive winter. It is there, in the vines, in this right time, in this slow and natural rhythm of the prune, that the turn of these two destinies and that of the Domain begins in their dialogue.
Nathalie Jeannot and Laurent Pegolotti create CHAPELLE de NOVILIS on the Domain of Villenouvette, today one of the oldest domain in the Béziers region. They chose the name "CHAPELLE de NOVILIS", in reference to the original religious construction, Sainte-Marie's church (800) and in homage to the first woman owner of the Domain, Jeanne de Novilis (1376).
Inauguration of the new cellar labelled Qualité Tourisme Sud de France
A team committed to three strong values
How to explain the amazing reception of our wines by connoisseurs, whether private or professional? The explanation undoubtedly lies in the three strong values on which CHAPELLE de NOVILIS has been built and continues to rely:
In every gesture to cultivate: through precise manual work to pruning, disbudding, stripping, and hand harvesting of our fragile grape varieties (90% of our grape varieties).
In each step in the cellar: thanks to state-of-the-art equipment, to selected and meticulous gestures, always guided by the achievement of finesse and elegance for our wines
- of the environment: organic farming, soil amendments with sheep manure and grape marc compost; practice of sexual confusion against cluster worms (pheromones and no insecticide); since 2017, sowing of legumes between our rows of vines. These plants, with deep rooting, allow to naturally aerate the soil in depth and thus help the development of biological life. This biological life allows the roots of our vines to find the trace elements they need more easily to bring our grapes even higher qualitatively. On the other hand, the vegetation cover provided by these plants helps to fix the carbon present in the air.
- of the biodiversity: committed to biodiversity and water quality of the soil and rivers, we are supported in this work by the Conservatory of Natural Areas, the Water Agency, the Federation of PGIs and the Occitanie Region, CHAPELLE de NOVILIS is certified High Environmental Value (HVE). The presence of legumes will add to this biodiversity, while allowing an increase in our fauna of insects of culture.
- women and men who work with us, but also those who taste our wines (organic farming and winemaking).
In the vineyard, unremittingly, without compromise, from pruning in winter to harvesting in early autumn, for a high-quality grape, the raw material essential to the creation of a high-end wine. In the cellar, by precise and delicate work throughout the process of winemaking and rearing.
These three fundamental values allow us to offer you the best of the vine, wine and ourselves. Because the wine only reveals the qualities of the team that gives birth to it. It is this team, and each of those who compose it, that you meet by tasting what they have put all their soul to produce..
A committed team
CHAPELLE de NOVILIS women and men
Laurent Pegolotti works mainly in culture, but he can also punctually give a hand in the cellar. It is rich of 30 years of knowledge of land and plots. He knows how to drive any machine: tractor, crusher, giro grinder, interceps, elevator, etc. He also knows when we can intervene on a plot after the rain, depending on the structure of the soil. Laurent is courageous and solid.
Eric Oliva crossed the road of CHAPELLE de NOVILIS in 2014. Eric is polyvalent and quickly learns: he works with both Laurent in culture and with Nathalie in the cellar. His initial training as a mechanic also gives him responsibility for the maintenance of our various machines. Eric is curious, involved, motivated, always ready to learn, rich in inventiveness and seeking technical solutions to any problem.
Isabelle Pegolotti has another main job, outside of CHAPELLE de NOVILIS. Her work as an employee at CHAPELLE de NOVILIS is extremely partial, but the little time spent there is full and complete. Isabelle can intervene in the cellar, in logistics, in the commercial, in the various DIY interventions, various and essential, indispensable in a small structure like ours. Isabelle is engaged, hardworking, calm and even-tempered.
Nicolas Dutour, works for the Dubernet laboratories. It is therefore as a service provider that he intervenes at CHAPELLE de NOVILIS. But we consider him a member of the team in his own right. All the analyses pass into his hands. Nicolas also has a very high level for tasting and his double competence as an agronomist allows us to approach the life of our soil and our vines in an optimal way: analysis of the nutrients captured by our vines, amendments, sowing between our rows of vines, etc. Nicolas is extremely competent, rigorous, very attentive and involved.
Our seasonals. We employed them at two major periods of the year: prune (2 seasonals) and harvest (14 seasonals). So far, people of all ages, living in the vicinity and in search of employment. CHAPELLE de NOVILIS thus contributes to the restoration of human at the centre of the economic activity. Some of these seasonal workers have become constant. And anyway, we can always count on a cheerful and enduring team.
Nathalie Jeannot, your winemaker
6 years after the creation of CHAPELLE de NOVILIS, I keep on being enthusiastic about the vine, the wine, and this fantastic adventure. Business development limits my time to culture, but Laurent and Eric are perfectly responsible for this. My responsibilities therefore remain: vinification, marketing, administrative and regulatory management, and communications. I am passionate, enthusiastic, perfectionist, therefore demanding, and I try to do my best to listen to you.