Château Sainte Eulalie is an outstanding estate run by a young and enthusiastic couple, Laurent and Isabelle Coustal. The domaine was first established in the earlier part of the 20th century, but it has been since this dynamic pair took over in 1996 that it has gained its excellent status. The property is known as a campagne - meaning that the vineyards, winery, main house, workers' lodgings, and cellar are all located on one site - and Isabelle and Laurent have worked hard to revitalise the entire complex.
Sainte Eulalie lies in the heart of the Minervois appellation in the south of France, just above the tiny village of La Livinière. The vineyards are spread over the Aude Valley, on the south side of the Black Mountain and Massif Central and not far from the Canal du Midi. This area isn't just an idyllic, laid-back sun-trap, it's also brilliant for vines: Eulalie's terraced vineyards lie on south-facing slopes at between 200-250m altitude, where they are protected from the northern winds.
The 34 hectares of vines - planted on pebbly soils with a high proportion of chalk, clay and manganese - are mostly over 20 years old, with the exception of two hectares of syrah planted by the Coustals in 2000. The balance of vines comprises 36% syrah, 28% grenache noir, 27% carignan and 9% cinsault.
Machine harvesting is responsible for most of the picking, but once the grapes reach the winery they are sorted by hand to ensure only the best fruit is used. Grapes then undergo fermentation and are aged in a mixture of vessels. The everyday Minervois spends 15-18 months in traditional concrete tanks, whereas the premium bottling, Cuvée Cantilène, which comes from old vines and contains more syrah, ages for a year in barrels, 25-50% of which are new oak, depending on vintage conditions. The rosé is much fresher, containing more grapes from the younger syrah vines, and is designed for younger drinking with fresh summer fare.