The origins of the Joyeux family at Ornaisons can be traced back to the 17th century when this small village in the Corbières, at the foot of the Fontfroide hills, was home to Jean-Pierre Ajac and his family. Fearlessly braving the risks and the difficulties faced by the viticultural community following the phylloxera epidemic, this enterprising family acquired both the Chateau d’Ornaisons and Domaine La Cendrillon.
In 1850, by combining the activities of quarrying gypsum from the Payral hills and running the vineyard, Pierre-Hyppolyte Ajac created a strong and prosperous business.
His granddaughter Marie-Blanche inherited the estate, and in 1904 she married a military officer, Louis-Ulysse Joyeux, with whom she had four sons.
After being widowed on the tragic death of her husband in August 1914 whilst leading his Company on the front line, this young woman threw herself wholeheartedly into managing the estate with the objective of passing it on to her sons.
And indeed one of them, Réné, a surgeon and professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Montpellier, determinedly continued to develop the estate in order to preserve this family treasure and transmit it to one or other of his ten children. With his keen eye for a fine terroir he acquired more vines, but sold most of his wine to the local negociants.
Finally it was his son Robert, accompanied by his wife Geneviève, who chose to take over the family estate, in parallel with an international career in industry.
Together they revised their entire approach to production from the beginning of the 2000’s, with the firm intention of bottling and selling their own wines. They reduced the surface under vines to concentrate on the best terroirs and replaced ageing rootstock. And, above all, they began to experiment with organic agriculture. By 2008 the whole estate had been converted to organic farming, and they produced the very first bottled vintage of Domaine la Cendrillon.
In 2017 one of their sons, Hubert, left Paris to carry on the family tradition and devote himself full time to the estate.
La Cendrillon, in the heart of the Corbières, is made up of a family, a terroir, and talent.
Convinced that all great wines spring from a preserved, living environment, Robert Joyeux decided at the beginning of the 2000s that the estate should be organic.
Herbicides have been banished and replaced by tilling and hoeing between the vines. We boost the organic matter in the soil by incorporating shredded vine prunings, and we encourage microbial activity and moisture retention through the planting of inter-row cover crops that act as green manure. Particular care is paid to maintaining and replanting the natural verges and hedges that surround our vines. The vines are pruned by hand using methods that are traditional in the region –in bush vines on trellises, or in cordon, where a long shoot is left from which fruiting canes develop. The majority of the grapes are also picked and sorted by hand. This transition has been overseen by Eloi Dürrbach of Domaine de Trévallon.
We believe in minimum intervention in the cellar, and have been trialling the use of wild yeasts and spontaneous fermentation for three years. No SO2 is used on the grapes except as a last resort, and the wines themselves only receive small doses of SO2 at the end of alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation, and finally just before bottling.
The wines are aged in concrete vats, 20 to 40hl wooden vats or in Burgundy barrels that are 2 to 3 wines old.
In the Languedoc, and more particularly in the Corbières, there is a long tradition of blending that we maintain whilst also respecting the identity of our terroirs. Each parcel is vinified separately in stainless-steel vats, and each grape variety is also aged individually, with blending only taking place once the wines are finished. All through the year, Hubert and Robert are guided by the advice of Claude Gros, consultant oenologist at Narbonne.
We also insist upon only releasing our wines for sale when they are ready to drink. Our terroirs and our grape varieties are capable of producing wines that age well, and we mature the wines in bottle to ensure that you can enjoy them at just the right moment.
The Domaine is situated at the edge of the village of Ornaisons in the direction of Narbonne, on the site where an old auberge called La Cendrillon stood in the 18th century.
It is therefore in the north-eastern part of the Corbières appellation, north of the Fontfroide range of hills. The cellar sits in the midst of the vines which are planted mainly around Ornaisons, with some in Nevian. The Corbières constitute the first foothills of the Pyrenees, and are made up of a succession of peaks and limestone clay hills with gravelly subsoils.
The terroir of la Cendrillon spans the area where the Fontfroide hills meet the Aude plain. As a result, we benefit from a multitude of terroirs… loamy earth that borders the river Orbieu, plots of clay surrounded by wild garrigue, and soils of calcareous schist… offering a diversity that gives us many interesting possibilities for crafting our blends.
Our vines are also planted on both slopes of the Pech d’Ornaisons, with a multitude of orientations. The vineyard therefore comprises 5 different terroirs across 3 climats
Because there can be no great wines without the coming together of a superb terroir and the devotion of men and women of patience and passion.
Founder and owner of the Domaine
Sales and Administration Assistant.
Cendrillon’s ‘good fairy’
Cellarhand and tractor driver