on loan from J. Heritier
The land and vines that we refer to as O’Vineyards have been around for a very long time and they’ve had many names and many farmers. I’m always picking up little bits about the vineyard’s history, and a friend just loaned a book to me that might help shed some light on the vineyard’s origins.
Cartulaire et Archives de l’Ancien Diocese de Carcassonne par M. Mahul.
Editeur: Philippe Schrauben
Mémoire de la Société des Etudes Scientifiques de l’Aude
One passage on Villemoustaussou’s agricultural history notes that in 1777:
“Lorsque Monsieur, comte de Provence, qui depuis a régné si glorieusement sous le nom de Louis XVIII, passa à Carcassonne, on servit à ce Prince des vins de Limoux et de Villemoustaussou; il eût la bonté d’en faire l’éloge à M. de Bezons. Le vin de Villemoustaussou provenait d’une vigne qui appartenait depuis longtemps à la famille Don” (Journal de la Société d’Agriculture de Carcassonne vol IV p. 137)
Basically Villemoustaussou’s wines were served to somebody pretty important and they impressed him. What’s particularly interesting is that the vines were owned by a M. Don, and we bought our vineyard from a M. Dons. That’s likely a coincidence as locals have told me there were several owners between 1777 and Dons. But still a fun discovery! Wouldn’t that be interesting to find that Dons’ family owned the property long before him and made remarkable wines back in the 18th century!?
Learning more about the vineyard is a complicated process because we’re located on the edge of three different villages. Each of the villages may have records of the property and all under different names. And each of those names can change and evolve over time. Often, the area we call O’Vineyards is locally referred to as “Le Thou” or “Lieu dit Le Thou”. I see some records of places called Le Grand Tou (could easily be Le Thou since the H is silent) as well as Dittou (could easily be a name derived from lieu DIT THOU) but I’ll need to do some more reading to see if these are different areas. I can probably also mention that Thou is a common word in old english texts so that makes searching a bit complicated too. While searching for the uniquely named Villemoustaussou is a bit easier, it should be noted that there are lots of alternate spellings and older names (latin texts refer to it as Villamostansio, Villamonstantion, and Villamonstantione).
Some of the local vines still carry their older names, notably Barrau, Brau, Rivalz and La Mijeane. Unfortunately, I don’t see much about a winemaking estate named Thou or Tou. One passage describes a property called TISSOT that is on the high ground separating Villegailhenc from Villemoustaussou (this is a very accurate description of our vineyard, especially the Syrah parcel), and there is a Chemin Tissot near the vineyard. But I can’t be sure without further research on the name TISSOT to see if it is not referencing some other vineyard. A preliminary search shows we might be very very close to a property called “les hauts de TISSOT” and we can imagine that the Thou might have been part of a larger TISSOT estate. More to come.
Also, by extraordinary coincidence, there is an area in Villegailhenc that was called Podium like one of our wines. Podium Giberti, its full name in 1380, is now called Pechibert.