Andrew Guard


Didier Barral has 25-hectares of biodynamically-farmed vineyards on slightly acid schist soils in which a little of everything grows. Everything starts from the soil which must be made as healthy as possible. In his words, "Nowadays, farmers feed the planet but destroy it at the same time. Sometimes they think they are doing the right thing by ploughing too often for example, which eventually damages the soil structure. We have to observe nature and to understand how micro-organisms operate. Then we see that tools and machinery can never replace the natural, gentle work of earthworms, insects and other creatures that travel through a maze of tunnels, creating porosity and aerating the soil, making it permeable and alive. There‘s grass in our vineyards and amongst the grass, there are cows and horses: a whole living world that lives together, each dependent on the other and each being vital to the balance of the biotope". This estate is now regarded as one of the two “greats” in the Languedoc.

Didier is a perfectionist in the vineyard and believes in totally natural vinification. Triage is vital for the quality of the grapes which makes or breaks the wine. The fermentation is done with wild yeasts, pigeage is by hand, long macerations are followed by ageing in wood, and the assemblage (all grape varieties are vinified separately) follows eighteen to twenty-four months later. The wines are bottled with no filtering or fining. And how do they taste? Well, they have a magnificent fruity intensity; his aim is to make something irresistible: a bottle of wine that no one would willingly leave unfinished.

The “Faugères” is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Cinsault. The Cinsault is amazing, yielding luscious aromas of cherry, plums and violet; the Carignan provides colour and concentration and the Grenache gives fragrant garrigue notes of bay leaf and thyme as well as a supple mouthfeel. Delicious. “Jadis” is Carignan (50%), Syrah (40%) and a soupçon of Grenache. The colour is deep blackish-purple, almost opaque. Ripe plum and black-cherry scents dominate a fruit-forward aroma, but there's plenty of earth to please the truffle-hounds. “Jadis” is widely regarded one of the truly great wines from the Languedoc.

Mourvèdre is the grape that gives Didier real pleasure. It is perceived as difficult to bring to even maturity, but according to Didier it‘s all about the health of the vine which in turn is about the health of the soil. His “Valinière”, named after a small stream, and made from 80% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah, has deep purple colour and a glorious nose that includes dark fruits, warm leather, dark chocolate, fine floral notes, black olives and all the spices of the orient. A fabulous wine for the ages and one of the very best I offer.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 16, 2012