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The oenolog Philippe Cambie



Philippe Cambie was born in Pezenas in Herault, where his mother's family owned some vineyards. He is so to speak born among the vines of Languedoc.
His first steps in education were not aimed directly at wine. He got some degrees from universities aimed at the food industry, Diplôme universitaire tecnique d’industrielle alimentaire and from École nationale supérieure de l’industrie agro alimentaire. During his education he had some courses and jobs in the industry for instanse in the brewery business and during the courses at the universities and these jobs he got a deep knowledge of
microbiological details in a process which in some ways are similar to what is going on in the vinification process. 
Not quite satisfied with this work he decided to change direction and went to Montpellier and got a
Diplôme d’ œnologue at the university there. After that he had some jobs in the wine industry - big firms.
The young Philippe Cambie was a passionate rugby player at a national level and via this sport he met many wine growers from Chateauneuf du Pape and the surrounding area (In Chateauneuf du Pape rugby is the sport for men). He had also been a class mate in Montpellier with a wine grower from Rasteau Gilles Ferrand. He liked these people and got many friends. And he loved the wines from the area.
Maybe this was deciding when he in 1998 joined the oenological laboratory in Beaumes de Venise - part of ICV. In 2002 a section was established at the ICV directed to private wine growers. Here was the right platform for Philippe Cambie. He likes to have a close relation to the single producer.

In French Cambie tells about his way of working:

Ma philosophie et mon mode de fonctionnement vont ensemble; tout passe par beaucoup d’échange entre les vignerons et moi-même: quel sont leur envies, leurs espoirs, leurs buts, leurs moyens .
Nous étudions ensemble le potentiel de leur terroir (dans le cas ou les gens ne le maîtriserais pas a 100%) mon mode de fonctionnement change du tout au tout en fonction des vignerons bien sur.
Je pense que mon métier est un métier d’écoute et d’échange pour accompagner les vignerons dans leur démarche de révélation de leur terroir.
Tous démarre a la vigne, sans grand raisins les plus sain possible rien n’est possible, c’est pour cela que j’ai un gros faible pour l’agriculture biologique et qu’un grosse majorité des domaines avec qui je travaille vont dans cette direction.
Je veux que tous les vins soit l’expression de leur terroir. Et surtout ne se ressemble en aucun point, leur seul ressemblance sera leur belle qualité.”

In English something like this:
My philosophy and my operating mode work well congruent. Everything is done under considerable exchange of views between the producer and me, what are their desires, their hopes, their goals, their means.
Together we study the potential of their soil and if the producer doesn't agree or understand completely he/her may take on my methods little by little.
I think that my task is a task of listening and together with the wine growers develop the potential of his/hers possibilities.
All starts with large and healthy grapes, and they are the basis of making good wine. Therfore my advice will be to use biological methods in the vinyards and a large majority of the domains with which I work are moving in that direction.
I want all the wines to express the soil they come from. The wines from different producers should not be alike, their only uniformity should be their beautiful quality.

Years ago it was common that the producers blended all their yield in one cuvée. Later years have given birth to many special cuvées. When you want to make wines expressing the different soils (terroirs) it's natural to seek out the potential of the different soils. Phillippe Cambie is not a "one-cuvée-man". Would we have had the pleasure of enjoying Combe des Fous or Deux ex Machina from Clos Saint Jean or for that matter 4 different cuvées from Isabell Ferrando at Saint Prefert without the influence of Philippe Cambie?
About ten years ago when I was planning which domains I should visit during a trip to Rhone. I consulted Robert Parker's (at that time) new book about the wines of the Rhone Valley. Today I will advise anyone, take a Cambie-route.

Philippe Cambie 2007  Photo: Michael Davis

ICV - Institut Coopératif du Vin

ICV is a big oenological association of laboratories in the Southern part of France with ten centres (loboratories) from Roussillon in the West to Brignoles in the East. The centre for the Southern Rhone is situated in Beaumes de Venise. More than 150 persons are employed in these centres, among them Philippe Cambie. About 500 wine merchants and about 1000 private producers use the laboratoires for analyses and get advise from the oenologs of ICV.
Domaine de Calendal

In 2004 Philippe Cambie purchased a parcel of 1,5 ha. at Plan de Dieu with old and good vines. The yield from here is from vintage 2006 vinified at Domaine des Escaravailles in Roaix by Cambie's friend from the years at the wine university in Montpellier, Gilles Ferrand. After the harvest 2008 Cambie will also be in possession of a neighbouring parcel of  3 ha. also with old vines.


Philippe Cambie was advisor for Philippe du Roy de Blicquy, who in 1990 purchaced Domaine de Villeneuve, and in a couple of years he managed to make eccoing wines from the disrepaired vineyards at the small domain. Furthermore he established a negociant business, Les Grandes Vignes du Roy to market his own and his partners wines of which some were labelled with the name of the suppliers. This business is today managed by the agent firm Vinergie. Philippe Cambie is a part of this firm as responsible for the quality of the wines and as an oenological advisor for the domains selling wines via Vinergie:
Domaine de Villeneuve, Domaine Patrice Magni, Domaine des Escaravailles and Domaine Grand Nicolet.

The study or knowledge of wine.
At many domains the owner or a family member has been studying oenology to a degree so they based on this and based on analysis from an oenological laboratory are able to make the wines without any further help. 
At some domains they employ an oenolog and make him/her responsible for the winemaking.
Other domains take advise from an oenolog often one who owns or is employed at an oenological laboratory
You can have an oenological education at local wine schools as Lycée Viticole d'Orange or Universite du Vin de Suze la Rousse
or at other wine schools in France.
. .
Examples of domains 
taking advise from Philippe Cambie

Le Clos du Caillou
Tardieu-Laurent (negociant)
Clos Saint Jean
Domaine Saint Prefert
Domaine Monpertuis
Domaine Aphillanthes (Cairanne) 
Domaine Barville
Chateau de Vaudieu
Jean Royer
Domaine Giraud
Le Vieux Donjon
Domaine de Villeneuve
Les Caillou
Domaine Font Croze (Rasteau)
Domaine la Garrigue (Vacqueyras/Gigondas)
Domaine Boisson (Cairanne)
Domaine Bosquet des Papes
Domaine des Escaravailles ( Rasteau)
Domaine Patrice Magni
Domaine Grand Nicolet (Rasteau)
Domaine de Saint-Paul
Domaine du Grand Tinel

Domaine Saint Damien (Gigondas)
Domaine des Senechaux
Domaine des Coteaux de Travers (Rasteau)
Domaine de la Colliere (Rasteau)
Domaine des Bosquets (Gigondas)
Domaine de l'Oratoire Saint Martin (Cairanne)
Clos du Mont Olivet
Chateau de la Font du Loup
Domaine Olivier Hillaire
Domaine de Bramadou (Roaix)
Domaine Constant-Duqousnoy (Vinsobres)
Domaine de la Ferme St. Martin (Beaumes de Venise)
Domaine les Haut des Terres Blanches (since 2008)
Domaine Duseigneur (Saint Laurent des Arbres)
Domaine Jean David (Seguret)
Domaine de la Bastidonne (Ventoux)
Domaine de Marotte (Ventoux)
Chateau Cabrieres
Rouve Saint Leger (Laudun) 
Domaine Galuval (Cairanne)
Domaine Manarine (Cotes du Rhone)
Cave Jamet
Domaine Cros Romet (Cairanne)
Domaine de Dionyssos (Massif d'Ucaux)
Domaine Maby (Tavel/Lirac)
Domaine du Longue Toque (Gigondas)
Vignobles Charles Tyrand (Cotes du Rhone Village)
La Gramière (Cotes du Rhone)

Chateau de Nages (Costières de Nîmes)
Chateau Puech Haut (Languedoc)
Chateau Castigno (Saint Chinian)
Chateau Paradis (Coteaux d'Aix)
Chateau Bizard (Tricastin)

Bodegas Mas Alta (Priorat)
Celler Capcanes (Montsant)

Tikvês (Makedonien)

Philippe Cambie and Sylvie Vacheron, Clos du Caillou
Photo: Michael Davis

Les Halos de Jupiter

.A negociant project in partnership with Michel Gassier from  Chateau de Nages has been established
More about this project here.


Michel Cassier and Philippe Cambie. Photo Cristina Cassier

Oenologic topics

In principle an advising oenolog follows the work in fields and cellars all the year, but there are some key processes to be followed closely.
The harvest.
It's very important, that the picking of the grapes is done just at the time when sugar, phenols and other key elements are at the optimal stage. This time of the year is a busy time for all oenological laboratories and their oenologs.
De-stemming or not. 
Today this question at many domains is not an issue. It's done consistently for all the harvest. At a few other domains it's neither a question. They never de-stem. Then at many domains it's a question asked most years. Maybe the Grenache from vines of a certain age is not de-stemmed and maybe Syrah and Mourvedre are de-stemmed because of more thick stalks. This issue can be a relevant thing to discuss with an experienced oenolog because the resulting wine may depend on the choises made. 
Fermentation and maceration.
The fermentation itself should normally not be a problem but the unpredictable nature can bring situations where quick respond is needed and where advise from an experienced oenolog can be rescuing. The topic of the period where mask and must are together (14-30 days) is an essential factor in winemaking and will be deciding for the character of the wine as well as the temperature during the whole process is important. 
The ageing process
The treatment of the wine from the fermentation period to the bottling of the wine one to three years later is of course quite deciding for the character of the wine. You can mature the different cuvées in steel tanks, in concrete tanks, in the old traditional foudres (40-60 hl.) or in smaller casks, demi-muids (600 l) or maybe in barriques/pièces (225-228 l). Furthermore the barrels can be newer or older. The chosen ageing method is of course essential for the character of the wine and will be a major topic in discussions between the producer and the oenological advisor.
The blend - assemblage
Many producers vinify the different varieties separately and wait to blend the different types of wine until late in the process. This is of course a very important step in the wine making process, where the people responsible must have great tasting experience. At this point it is maybe decided which (special) cuvées can be made the actual year, how much of the press wine should be added, how much of the wine might be sold to negociants or if the blend the actuel vintage should be a little bit different from previous vintages. There may also be considerations about wines from different terroirs (soil types) and their weight in the blend as it's normal that domains in Chateaunef du Pape owns parcels with quite different soil.


Opdateret 06-02-2012