DOMAINE DE SAOUBIS is a Biodynamic estate in the Bas-Armagnac region of France.

OWNER Maurice de Mandelaëre (born 26 January 1947). As well as this estate he has, since the late 1970s, owned his own distribution company for wines and spirits near Frankfurt, Germany called Séléction de Gascogne. He is the fifth generation to farm here, succeeding his mother (his father having died first).

STAFF Chef de Culture: M Patrick Marsan (21st harvest here in 2003).

VINEYARDS 2002 There are 9.60 hectares (23 acres) of vines on sandy clay soils mixed with pebbles on a butte or small hill. The vineyard is surrounded by pine forests (called les landes in Gascony) which stretch to the Atlantic Ocean. As there are no vineyard neighbours there is no spray drift. Colombard, Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc occupy and Baco 22A, which is ungrafted and which is described by the vineyard manager as “the easiest to work”, are planted. A nearby chapel for pilgrims on their way to Santiago to Compostella in Spain is thought to have given the domain its name: Saoubis comes from the Catalan ‘Saovis’ meaning ‘saved’ (sauvé).

BIODYNAMICS It was via his German business (see above) that Maurice de Mandelaëre came into contact with biodynamic growers like Jean-Pierre Fleury. “I could see that Biodynamics worked well for them, so we started with it in 1997, with François Bouchet consulting.” Maurice also attended meetings o Biodynamics hosted by Nicolas Joly. It takes two mornings or two afternoons to spray the vineyard with Horn manure 500, Horn silica 501 and Maria Thun’s barrel compost spray 502-507 using a tractor. The preparations are first stirred in a 300-litre wooden dynamizer and are applied to the land at a rate of 60-100 litres per hectare (24-40 litres per acre). Biodynamic compost 502-507 is made from (non-organic) cow manure from the neighbour, organic manure being hard to find. The manure is mixed with straw and the Biodynamic compost preparations 502-507 are then added.

PRUNING Ugni Blanc and Colombard are double guyot pruned (leaving 8 ‘eyes’ on each cane + 2 coursons) to get more even shoot growth early season from them, whilst Baco 22A achievs this best pruned single guyot.

VINE DENSITY 4,000 vines per hectare (1,620 vines per acre) at 2m rows x .080 metres vines in older plots, and 2.20 metres rows x 1.0 metres vines in newer ones.

CERTIFICATION 1998 First vintage with organic certification. 2002 First vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification. 2017 Still with Demeter.

WINEMAKING The grapes are machine picked at night when cool.

CONTACT Domaine de Saoubis, F-32800 Ayzieu (Gers), France / Tel+33 (0) /