Meet The Producer - Domaine Gayda

Written by: jackie oakley
18 Feb

Domaine Gayda is nestled in the heart of France’s south west, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, surrounded by prime Languedoc wine territory – the world’s largest wine producing region. It’s situated just 25km from the medieval walled city of Carcassonne in the village of Brugairolles.

The family-owned estate was founded in 2003 by friends Anthony Record, a South African entrepreneur, and Tim Ford, a British horticulturist and rose specialist who is a born and bred Canterbury family man.

The pair appointed Loire-born Vincent Chansault as their lead winemaker, persuading him to leave his post at the famous Boekenhoutskloof winery in Franschhoek, South Africa, and return home to France, where he has been ever since.

The venture started off with the estate – an 18th century farmhouse and Record’s former holiday home - which had 12 hectares of land, but nothing under vine.

Due to the limestone and sandstone soils, high pH and good rainfall, they opted, experimentally, to plant Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc alongside Mediterranean varieties Syrah and Viognier. They also chose straight away to ignore the appellation restrictions of Malepère (in which the winery is located) and instead chose to make wines under the IGP Pays d’Oc designation.

The team focused on soil analysis, rainfall and altitude factors to decide what to plant, but from day one there was an underlying energy to create wines of excellence with no preconceived ideas about specific varieties or terroirs.

An open mind, pioneering spirit and inherent curiosity has sustained 17 years of growth and transformation to a range that now spans 18 different labels. The estate owns 50 hectares under vine, all of which have been certified organic since 2011, with a future target of 80 hectares.

Shortly after planting started on the chalky sandstone soils of Brugairolles, the team started looking to acquire other special plots in the region. They began with the Minervois appellations of La Livinière, paving the way for the creation of Chemin de Moscou, now the estate’s flagship wine.

They then added schist soils from plots bought in Roussillon and extended their mosaic of terroirs to include red clay in Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet and granite in Latour-de-France, all with an underlying passion to create wines that champion the character of each place.

To do this, they opted for hand-crafted, single-vineyard fermentations using small tanks, 20kg crates for harvesting and a selection of casks & vessels for fermentation & ageing.

They are also committed to organics and have, since 2017, been working biodynamically. Working in harmony with nature and following that through to the final wine is of key importance. ‘We want to be as natural as possible’ says Tim. No sulphur is used during fermentation and as little as possible during ageing. The team also sends wines to a laboratory for regular testing and they have been working with Bordeaux consultant Thomas Duclot to become ‘more focussed’ in their approach.

Some of the estate’s labels have remained the same since inception, for example, Chemin de Moscou, whilst others, such as the Figure Libre Freestyle range, vary from year to year.

‘We want our wines to have personality, to show people an expression of the grapes and terroirs we’re working with’ says Tim.

With a range that spans red, white and rosé, single-varietal wines and blends, and a range of price points from £10-£30, there’s plenty to discover!