9th part of our series on the great winegrowing families of the Aude, writing the history of the vine and wine over several generations, with the Gobé-Pagès family from Château l’Amiral in Aigues-Vives.
The inhabitants of the village used to call this large building opposite the town hall of Aigues-Vives the Admiral’s Castle. Naturally, when Bénédicte and Rodolphe Gobé took over the management of the winery in 2008, they christened it as a tribute to this famous member of the family: Admiral Numa Gayde, who was also appointed Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour. Seven generations have successfully managed the estate since 1817. At the beginning of the 20th century, Admiral Numa Gayde and his brother-in-law Louis Pagès, General of the Army, set about modernizing the basement and in particular installing a running water network on the roof, which is extremely rare at the time and decided to equip the basement with the Enlarging the Horseshoe buildings to optimize horse parking.
Family history tells that the two men, both polytechnics, friends since Carcassonne Royal High School, competed for first place in their class. The military line of the family continued with Louis’ son, Colonel Emile Pagès, before Bénédicte’s parents embarked on a career as doctors in Perpignan, always keeping an eye on the winery like their ancestors.
She is an oenologist, he is a logistician
Bénédicte, a trained oenologist, and her husband Rodolphe Gobé, until then a logistician in the capital and in the east of France, will devote themselves exclusively to the wine production of the château. If the winery used to extend over 55 ha, the area has been reduced to 35 ha, with a large part of the replanting and a clear desire to produce high quality organic wines. A strict work organization guides the couple. “We are the first generation to introduce white grape varieties alongside Syrah, Grenache, Marselan, Marsanne and still the old Carignans,” adds Bénédicte.
Half of the terroir is in the Minervois appellation, the other half in the IGP Pays d’Oc. The couple makes red, rosé, white and even orange wines, a tannic wine with white scents. With no access to irrigation, their vines are still the least irrigated in the appellation to this day. Modest yields lead to a concentration of aromas and the extraction of the best grapes for a high-end vinification.
Thirty shows every year
Most of the production is marketed in bulk to distributors in the region, but bottle packaging at the Castle is evolving through direct sales through fairs to the general public. Rodolphe is in charge of this marketing: “We hold about thirty exhibitions throughout France throughout the year, first the agricultural exhibition – we won the gold medal in the 2020 general agricultural competition – and also in the medium-sized cities of our beautiful country. To these are added some local producer markets” , explains the winemaker from Aude.
Bénédicte and Rodolphe also play the wine tourism card and last year they were awarded first prize by the Tourist Office of Greater Carcassonne (vineyard walk, cellar visit, introduction to tasting… ). During the confinement, the Château l’Amiral organized interactive tastings via intermediary screens. Given the success, they now continue to promote their wines in this way.
Château l’Amiral has set a course: no bottles in the sea, but on the tables of connoisseurs who love good wines.