You can already feel the cool influence of Atlantic weather in the upper Aude Valley, just in the Pyrenees foothills on the Languedoc's southwestern fringes, with nothing in its way until the Corbières hills.
This cool climate zone is what Jean-Louis Denois was looking for in the Languedoc, when he bought his first Pinot Noir vines in Roquetaillade in 1988, followed by 15 ha of Chardonnay at 400-500m altitude in 1989 to create a Burgundy style vineyard: Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for whites (with similar conditions to their Burgundy homeland) with a racy edge that's rare in the Languedoc Roussillon and at a level never seen before in the south of France, which became the iconic Domaine de l'Aigle.
With a strong will and pioneering spirit to establish an outstanding vineyard, Jean-Louis planted the first Pinot Champagne clones in 1991 for making sparkling wines. These grapes have thinner softer skin than in Burgundy with less colour and higher acidity.
After those first vintages from 1989 to 92, the awards soon started coming in rewarding his hard work and bringing international recognition for his pioneering Languedoc Pinot and fine Limoux Chardonnays. Certain vintages from that period, such as 89 and 91, are still very much alive. Totally unexpected ageing potential that might even surpass white Burgundies and Chablis from that time. Is it thanks to this natural acidity, hand-picking or lack of chemical and mineral fertilisers - potassium that tends to neutralise acidity - or quite simply all these factors?
The surface area under vine gradually crept up to 35 hectares by 2000.
Despite this commercial and media success, Jean-Louis decided to look for a backer, a solid Burgundy company to help the business grow and maybe take a break: for a change in lifestyle away from routine... A productive meeting with Antonin Rodet, who was looking for a vineyard in a stunning location to make fine wines, and saw the potential and beauty of these southwest Languedoc highlands.
He sold the brand and certain parcels of the estate, only keeping the little old Sainte Marie vineyard, some Chenin Blanc in La Rivière and small plot of old Merlot that would become the base of the future Domaine Denois vineyard for AOC red Limoux.
Time to turn over a new page!