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Didier Barral has 25-hectares of biodynamically-farmed vineyards on slightly acid schist soils in which a little of e...Read more...
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Food Pairings for Domaine Léon Barral Mourvedre Blend Faugères Valinière
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. This is an extraordinary micro-climate where the mountains on one side and the proximity of the garrigue which shelters fauna and flora create the preconditions for an excellent terroir. Didier is adamant that cow manure is the best, and not having delved too deeply into these matters, as it were, who are we to say otherwise? A photographic album of the vineyards could be entitled: My Favourite Bugs or A Diet of Worms or even A Riot of Worms, for it reveals astonishing diversity of benevolent creepycrawlydom, indication of a thriving, living soil. Natural solutions prevail: small birds make their nests in the clefts of the vines (these nests lined with the horse hair that has been shedded) and they prey on the mites and bugs that are the enemies of the vine. 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. He dislikes carbonic maceration as he believes that it explodes the fruit and leaves nothing behind it. 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. No filtering or fining, these are natural products, lest we forget. As Paul Strang writes: 'He scorns the modern bottling plant, deploring the use of filters and pumps which interfere with the natural qualities of the wine. All you need is a north wind and an old moon.' And the wines? Well, they have a magnificent fruity intensity, but his aim is 'to make something irresistible: a bottle of wine that no one would willingly leave unfinished' (Virgile's Vineyard - Patrick Moon). We begin with the baby of the bunch, a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Cinsault. The Cinsault is amazing yielding luscious aromas of confit cherry, damson and violet, the Carignan provides colour and concentration and the Grenache gives fragrant garrigue notes of laurel, bay and thyme as well as a supple mouthfeel. His Valinière, named after a small stream, and made from 80% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah, has deep purple colour and a glorious nose that benefits from aeration. Strong dark fruits, warm leather, dark chocolate, fine floral notes, black olives and all the spices of the orient (quite a few, anyway). The wood, evident initially, melts into the fruit leaving behind a fabulous fierce minerality. The mouth follows the nose, conveying a suppleness, where density and power are controlled and shows acidity that completes the wine, gives it equilibrium, finesse, length in the mouth as well as a capacity to age. A vin de garde, a vin d'amour.
Dietary Information: Organic
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