Q&A: Katie Jones
Katie Jones and Jean-Marc Astruc make wines in Tuchan, a small village in the Languedoc, where Katie originally bought a plot of old vines.
What initially drew you to start making wine in France? Did you have any prior winemaking experience before moving to France?
It was more what drew me to France. I have always loved France and from a very young age wanted to be French and live in France. Making wine was a way for me to really get to the heart of French life.
What attracted you to the Languedoc in the first place? What is special about winemaking in this particular region?
The sun! Although I have since found out that it is unbearably hot in the summer and the enemy of the vineyard worker.
I was looking for the real France, la “France profonde”, where I could live my dream. I wasn’t particularly looking for the Languedoc but for a special remote place far away from the hustle and bustle of the towns.
I have no experience of winemaking anywhere else, so it is difficult to compare. I know that here it is very difficult because of the stony soils and lack of water, but old vines love that and Domaine Jones is made up of 80% old vines.
How many people work at Domaine Jones and Domaine Jean-Marc Astruc? Do the two wineries work in tandem or are they completely separate entities?
We have a small team of four permanent workers and seasonal workers for harvest and other vineyard work. The workers work for both wineries, but we have different vineyards and different wineries. Jean-Marc is the vineyard specialist and looks after the vines for both domaines, and I look after the sales and marketing for both Domaines. We each make our own wine in our own winery.
What is one of your favourite varietals to work with and why?
Grenache Gris, as white wines from my area, are totally underrated. The variety has a lovely freshness and minerality, especially when it comes from old vines. My vines are over 50 years old and there is a lovely concentration in the wine. I also prefer to make white wines and really believe in their potential.
Which winemaking traditions, if any, are most important to you?
I don’t really stick to any traditions, but as I have old vines, I harvest by hand, which I think is very important. I also save small parcels of vines from being ripped up and replanted and give them the retirement they deserve.
What is one of the hardest things about winemaking year in and year out?
It is a way of life that I have chosen and there is no hardship. Each year is different, each wine is different, it is so exciting. If you don’t like the work, then you cannot do it.
Tell us about the two Collector’s Corner wines from La Perle Rare range. What inspired the name, and how are they best enjoyed?
The Perle Rare wines are very, very rare and very special. I only make a couple of barrels of each, but each wine is aged 100% in oak barrels.
The red spends 24 months in barrels and the white is a blend of vintages, but the youngest vintage is four years old. The white shows the potential of the Grenache Gris grape to age in oak and turn into a beautiful and unique style of wine—so complex, rich, and with a lovely freshness. The red shows the potential of the Syrah grape when planted on the correct soils that retain moisture. For both, yields are low, but concentrations are high.
What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting experience?
Tasting the first-ever wine I made—a Grenache Gris from the first old vine vineyard I purchased back in 2009.
You recently hosted some Opimian Members for a lunch in Tuchan. What does your relationship with our Club mean to you?
It was a pretty emotional moment to welcome 32 Canadians to my Domaine in Tuchan. We are in a very remote area of France, so we really appreciate that you came to see us. We kept things simple with a vineyard picnic in the Syrah vineyard, where the Perle Rare red comes from. Opimian has really opened up the Canadian market for us, as before we didn’t export to Canada. We love that we are able to communicate with Opimian Members on social networks and that we are able to have our wines available in each province. But it is more than that—there is the human element too and you are a great team who we love working with.
What are you looking forward to for the next vintage?
When the last grape has been picked and it is all safely fermenting in our wineries.
Order these wines from Cellar 297 by August 15, 2022