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Soil Types

Soil Types

Les sols du domaine constituent un atout primordial. Il sont un reflet de la diversité des types de sols que l'on retrouve dans l'appellation Saint-Chinian (qui en fait une lieu très singulier pour les géologues). Chaque terroir permettra une expression différente des cépages et sera un élément très favorable à la complexité des vins par l'assemblage. 

The soils are worked according to agroecological principles. This means that they still contain a great deal of life (plenty of micro-organisms and worms), which leads to good root growth, improved nutrient supply for the vine and therefore a superb expression of "terroir".

The soils on the estate can be divided into four major groups:

shistes 2.jpg

Schistous soils

These very ancient soils come from clay sediments that were once compressed on the sea bed (300 to 600 million years ago). Placed under huge pressure at high temperatures, they eventually became schist and reached the earth's surface at the end of the Primary era (125 million years ago). Schist is a soft, foliated rock that breaks up easily, allowing the vines to spread their roots and providing excellent drainage. These soils help the grapes to achieve a good level of ripeness. On the estate they are planted with Grenach, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Piquepoul.

Clayey-limestone soils

Limestone comes from the sea or lakes. The Languedoc was covered by sea for over 100 million years during the Secondary era, leaving thick layers of limestone formed from shells and coral. From these layers came the various types of clayey-limestone soils.

There are three main types on the estate, which vary according to geographical location:

- Limestone plateau and scree
There is some phonolitic limestone on the estate, which is formed by splinters of limestone deposited on the soil surface. These light-coloured "lauses" accumulate the heat, reflecting it upwards and creating a microclimate around the grapes, bringing them to an excellent level of ripeness.
On the estate these soils are planted with Carignan.

argilo calcaires 2.jpg

- Glacis and outwash slopes
The "gresette" soils are formed by small, angular splinters of limestone that have been carried by glaciers and rivers and accumulated at the edge of the limestone plateau.
These deep soils are very poor and porous, giving the vines a regular supply of water. The roots penetrate easily and the vines produce high-quality grapes that reach peak ripeness, even in very dry conditions.
On the estate they are planted with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan.

Sandstone Slopes

These soils are formed from a high proportion of red clay combined with limestone and sandstone pebbles. They hold water superbly, but also drain well. They are high in quality and rare.
On the estate they are planted with Syrah, Mourvdre and Carignan.

Grape Varieties

Grape Varieties

Along with the diversity of soils and microclimates, the many different grape varieties planted at La Madura mean that the wines produced for blending have a very wide range of aromas and flavours.

Planted in schistous or clayey-limestone soils, Grenache produces typical, heady aromas, adding richness and character to the wines.

On schistous soils it produces particularly powerful aromas and has a high sugar content, but is not very highly coloured.


It has a more traditional, structured expression on clayey-limestone soils.


Syrah is planted on clayey-limestone, sandstone and, more recently, schistous soils.


On the estate, it gives the wines density, colour, elegance, fruit and complexity.


Mourvèdre is also planted on clayey-limestone and sandstone soils, which it particularly likes as they provide it with a steady supply of the water it needs to achieve a good level of ripeness.


On the estate it produces rich, elegant wines of great typicity, with dark fruit and spice aromas.


Carignan comes from the oldest vines on the estate.


It produces wines with an elegant structure and typical spicy, peppery aromas.

Les Carignan


Sauvignon blanc is planted on a fairly cool, high plot of clayey-limestone soils and produces rich, well-balanced wines.


The grapes ripen quite slowly on this "terroir", retaining their aromatic freshness and acidity to give a good expression of the grape variety.


Le Sauvignon blanc


Piquepoul Blanc, planted on a parcel of schists, which is original.


It adds a more local note to the white blend, but remains within the style in terms of both the aromas and the balance with the Sauvignon.


It is grown to obtain moderate yields and adds fresh, elegant aromas, a pleasing structure and lingering freshness.


Le Piquepoul blanc


Environment and Climate

Environment and Climate


Saint-Chinian has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and fairly mild winters. However, it is close to the mountains (Montagne Noire and Monts de l'Espinouse), which bring a certain coolness to these "terroirs".

The wind plays a key role in the area. It can occasionally be a nuisance, breaking young shoots and thereby reducing the harvest, but it has the advantage of reducing the level of moisture in the plants (limiting the spread of Mildew) and around the grapes (reducing problems of rot). This means that the vines need to be sprayed less and the grapes can be left to ripen in peace.



Certain plant and animal species are linked to the various different types of countryside around Saint-Chinian, creating biodiversity in the environment.
The plant species are very varied. As well as being pleasing to the eye, they create a very evident scented atmosphere that is specific to each type of soil.
Certain species are very representative of the “Saint-Chinianais”. Cistus ladanifer (gum rockrose) is a particularly interesting example. This endemic variety is found within a very limited area and produces a very strong-smelling gum (used in the perfume industry). We sometimes find this scent in our wines during fermentation. All these “garrigue” scents help to form the bouquet of our wines and are often revealed as the wines mature.

This diversity of plant life also provides a home for a wide variety of animals. Some species may act as auxiliary fauna for the vines, i.e. they prey on species that are damaging to the vines. As long as we maintain it, this natural balance means that the vines are at less risk of disease.

Training and Growing

Training and Growing


Goblet pruning is still used on the old vines and varieties with an upright bearing, such as Carignan, Mourvèdre and even Grenache. The method is traditional to the region and produces a good area of leaf cover exposed to the light for those varieties that are suited to it.

The other plots are trellised to keep the plant growth upright and give it good exposure to the sun and the air.

The trellises are either new or rebuilt to give them sufficient height and provide the vine with ideal leaf cover.

Video by Dominique Boudet: click here


The vines are pruned in either the bilateral cordon style or, for the more recently planted vines, in a personal pruning (between fan-shaped and goblet style). It allows a better aeration than the gobelet and a better ageing than the cordon (we think).
Video by Dominique Boudet: click here



The soils are worked according to agroecological principles maintaining a natural plant cover. The aim is to encourage biological activity, which improves soil life and helps the vines to put down their roots and finds nutrients. Grassing also improves drainage, helps aerate the soil and limits compacting and erosion during periods of heavy rain.
The soil beneath the rows is maintained using an inter-vine hoe. The work is then finished using a pick-axe. Where this isn’t possible, the grass is mown.



The soils are analysed regularly and maintained by adding organic matter where necessary.

The fight against diseases and insect pests is dictated purely by observation and weather information, which means that we can keep spraying to the strict minimum (usually 2 or 3 sessions). It also means that we use less fuel, thereby reducing our ‘carbon footprint’, and that the soil is less compacted. 

Our choice of spraying products is also determined by our concern to maintain biological balance in the vineyards, their soil and their environment. We are therefore fighting disease in an environmentally-friendly way, without rigidity but with an intellectual rigour and honesty. 


La Madura prefers to use a preventive approach, doing a lot of thinning work in spring and summer to improve the flow of air around the vine and the grapes: removing suckers from the centre of the trunk, and thinning out the leaves. This sort of work is time-consuming and labour-intensive, but it keeps the vines and grapes healthier and improves ripening.

In addition, we choose our products out of a concern to maintain the biological balance of the vines, the soil and their environment. We’re involved in an environmentally-friendly approach. Since 2015, this approach has led to the award of High Environmental Value (HVE) certification, to which we have since added Organic Farming (AB) certification (In 2021 and under conversion since 2018) as we felt that it was complementary to HVE.


HVE is a national scheme set up by the “Grenelle 2” Environment Act, the first official texts of which were published in the Official Journal in June 2011. It covers four environmental aspects: biodiversity, pest management strategy, fertilization management and water resource management. See the bottom of the page for further information.

Video by Dominique Boudet: click here


“Environmental Certification of Agricultural Operations” is a national scheme set up by the “Grenelle 2” Environment Act, the first official texts of which were published in the Official Journal in June 2011.

The official scheme was set up and recognized by the Government and is applied on 3 levels to enable the farmer or wine-grower to move forward in stages. “High Environmental Value” is the 3rd and final level of commitment representing the scheme’s level of excellence. It alone gives access to the regulated “High Environmental Value” label. It covers four environmental aspects: biodiversity, pest management strategy, fertilization management and water resource management.

Niveau 1 : This level covers the key regulatory obligations relating to good agro-ecological conditions, plant health and environmental protection.
From a technical point of view, the agricultural operation must:
- Have an assessment carried out by an SCA-approved organization (SCA = Système de Conseil Agricole = Agricultural Advisory System), in accordance with a set of specifications very similar to the cross-compliance rules covering CAP grants (CAP = Common Agricultural Policy).
- Have an assessment of the operation carried out in relation to the Level 2 reference document or in relation to the Level 3 environmental performance thresholds.


Niveau 2 : This level covers the good practices required to construct a basis for progress.

From a technical point of view, these are mainly good environmental protection practices that should be introduced on the operation. The farmer or wine-grower should:

- Embark on a progress strategy based on 16 environmental improvement commitments.

- Have an audit carried out by an independent body to confirm his level.

The farmer or wine-grower may work towards this Level 2 commitment by following a strategy recognized as being Level 2 equivalent. In France, various forms of certification such as “Agriculture raisonnée”, “Terra Vitis”, “Qualenvi”, “Bio”, etc., are accepted as being equivalent to Level 2.

Niveau 3 : This is the scheme’s most stringent level.

From a technical point of view, the farmer or wine-grower must achieve levels of environmental performance measured by indicators in several areas:

1- Biodiversity: This refers to improvements introduced by the farmer or wine-grower to encourage and protect auxiliary fauna, pollinating insects, vineyard landscapes, game refuges, etc. (we talk of “AEI” (Agro-Ecological Infrastructures) and “Landscape Features”). These semi-natural environments, essential to the implementation of a sustainable development policy, form habitats, transition zones and connectivity environments that favour the diversity of plant and animal species; for example: grass strips, hedges, copses, low dry stone walls, mountain pasture, grassland forbidden to grazing animals, etc.

2- Crop protection: Even if it is technically necessary to use pest control products, excessive use has negative impacts on the environment. We are interested here in alternatives to chemical control, such as sexual confusion or tillage.

3- Crop maintenance: This is concerned with grassing, nitrate fertilization and irrigation practices, if these are used on the operation.

4- The influence of inputs on the financial balance:Inputs(pest control products, electricity, fuel, boxes, bottles, etc. in terms of their financial value) are compared to the operation’s earnings.

An audit has to be carried out by an accreditedcertification body to certify the operation’s environmental performance.

The certification award gives the farmer or wine-grower the right to use the reserved, regulated statements: “High Environmental Value Operation” and “Wine from a High Environmental Value estate”.

For further information:,16358


Domaine La Madura

Route de Salabert - 34360 Saint-Chinian - France


© 2020 La Madura - Réalisation : Grafix

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