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Domaine Guillaman

The Domaine de Guillaman is a wine estate that lies in Gascony on hillsides and has been in the Ferret family for six generations.

A passion for the grape has long run in the family: Albert Ferret, the fourth-generation owner, passed on his own devotion to his grand-son Dominique, on an estate that had hitherto been entirely dedicated to the making of Armagnac.

Guillaman dominiqueDominique, who was equally passionate and was also proud to be able to maintain the fine family history, took over the management of the property from a very young age, and decided to change direction in choosing to make high-quality white wines. These are marketed as Côtes de Gascogne, which now enjoy a protected geographical status.

To do this, Dominique re-vamped entirely the existing 15 hectares of vines, increased the area under cultivation and renovated the wine-making cellar. These major works took more than ten years.

The vines, now extended to 70 hectares (175 acres) by a series of acquisitions, benefit from the richness of a typically Gascon clayey soil on a limestone bed-rock, while a mild maritime climate helps the grapes to reach a good level of ripeness.

The grape varieties are predominantly white, in part as they were ones used for making Armagnac: Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng make up 85% of the vines. The remaining 15%, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are used to make rosé and red wines.

In Dominique’s view, it is with the vines that you create the potential for a wine and in the cellar that you work to find its best expression.

This is why with his team he undertakes a rigorous and daily monitoring routine that encompasses the greatest level of respect for the Terroir, and how it influences the wines.

The wine-making cellars have benefited in recent years from substantial investment that has been at the forefront of technology.

  • Guillaman stephanieAn additional cellar of 1,000 square meters is fully temperature-controlled, and sits at the heart of the vines,
  • The pressing of the grapes is done under a layer of inert gas (to avoid any oxidation and so preserve the natural pre-cursors of the wine’s bouquet). Two modern Bucher presses keep the wine totally away from oxygen and provides back up during harvest against press problem.
  • The fermentation is controlled at low temperatures and all transfers of the wines between tanks are gas-controlled (to preserve their fruity bouquet),
  • While the wines are kept at below 6°C in isothermal tanks.
  • Bottling is done weekly, on the property, to help maintain freshness and control.

As independent wine-makers, Dominique and his wife Stéphanie, who is the grand-daughter of wine-makers, have decided to handle the commercial side of the business themselves, on the estate. They gained an early distinction with their Colombard Ugni Blanc 2000 blend, which won a gold medal at the Concours Général Agricole in Paris, and helped to set things in motion and underpin the growth of the estate – in 2013 some 700,000 bottles will have been sold across France, in northern Europe and in the US.