Domaine de l'HortusHistory, savoir-faire, passion & tradition

Anna Caidan meets up with Yves Orliac to talk about his family venture in Languedoc at Domaine de l'Hortus
Wine Story

What could you tell me about the history of Domaine de l’Hortus?

Domaine de l’Hortus was created by my parents. At this time my father was a researcher at the university of Montpellier and my mother was a Doctor, but my dad and my mum were rock-climbing lovers, and the limestone cliffs in Montpellier are the perfect spot for rock climbing. This is where they discovered the valley. It was completely abandoned, and so they said “wow” and saw the potential of the place. You have to understand, that at this time, no one believed in the viticulture in Languedoc. For example, we have a story in my family, when grandfather found out my father wanted to become a viticulturist, he was terrified! And he told him something, he said, “Listen son, there are three ways to become poor; the quickest way is gambling, the elegant way is to marry a lady, but the one sure way is to become a winemaker in the south of France! Now, Domaine de l’Hortus is one of the oldest wineries in the region. It is a big success for the South of France!

What is the secret to making your wines?

Now I work with my two brothers and my sister, and we try to keep the philosophy that our parents established. For us, the most important thing is the work in the vineyards, afterwards in the cellar. It’s just like cooking! So, the most important thing in the vineyards is to respect the environment and the plants and try to have the best fruit.

What is your favourite step in the winemaking process?

We see our job as like gardeners. Our vineyard is like a garden, so the most important thing is to be in nature, in the valley, to be outside and to cultivate our vines like a garden.

What is your best memory since working at Domaine de l’Hortus?

I think it was my childhood, and I think it’s the same for my brothers and sister. We are all working together, but my parents never said we had to come back. It’s the place of our happy childhood! Of course, when we were teenagers, we wanted to discover the world, but after a while the four of us all came back!

And your most challenging moment?

I don’t know! I’m happy to wake up every day and have a happy life. Of course, sometimes it’s hard, but it’s a happy life!

How would you define your wines in three words?

Freshness, finesse and elegance.

How do your wines differ from others in the region?

It’s a Mediterranean style with a lot of Syrah. It’s a very well adapted grape for the place, so it makes a spicy red wine with pepper, but with fresh and fine tannins.

‘Situated at the foot of the Hortus mountain and Pic Saint Loup, Domaine de l’Hortus is a pioneer of the appellation. Special mention for the red Grande Cuvée 2017, elegant, silky and complex and the white Grande Cuvée 2018, intensely fruity with beautiful floral notes!’ Anna Caidan

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