Andrew Guard

Beaumes de Venise

La Ferme St Martin, stalwarts of the natural wine scene in France deliver excellent quality with amazing regularity, they offer freshness and brightness of flavour seldom found in the Southern Rhône.

If there is a prettier vineyard in this part of France then I would like to see it. La Ferme St Martin is serene with sweeping views of the Mont Ventoux and the Dentils de Montmirail.

It’s a long winding road up there and not easy to find; it's situated in the small village of Suzette in the picturesque Beaumes de Venise appellation just south of Gigondas, the organic vineyards of Ferme Saint Martin are devoted to nurturing the highest quality fruit from it's vines planted literally on the sides of the Mont Ventoux.

Growing grapes organically includes using farming methods that nurture the soil, air and water. Through the process of totally excluding the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, the vineyard has received the organic certification (by Qualité France SA).

The domaine is run today by Guy and Thomas Jullien and was purchased by Guy’s father in 1955 and the cellar established in 1963. There are 22 hectares of vines on various terraces  at altitudes between 200 and 600 meters. 15ha are in Beaumes de Venise, 5ha in Cotes de Ventoux and 2 in Cotes du Rhône. Incidentally La Ferme St Martin only make red and white wine; none of the regions famous (but erratic) sweet Vin doux Naturel.
Here Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault are grown on soils of limestone and clay.

A long-time favorite in the "natural" wine bars of Paris, La Ferme Saint-Martin is also certified organic, ferments with wild yeasts, and uses minimal sulfur. (Free SO2 is at 0 - 10 mg/L, total SO2 is from 20 to 30mg) Guy and Thomas produce aromatically complex, concentrated wines that are never top-heavy or over-extracted and there is always good acidity.

"All our work in the vines is done with the goal of producing healthy grapes while protecting the life in our soils and the balance of nature which surrounds us."

The top wine here is the Cuvée Saint-Martin, from 100 year-old Grenache vines, with old vines of Syrah - it's a sensational blend of fruit and terroir expression that is delicious young but best at five to ten years of age.

Written by Andrew Guard — June 16, 2012