Colline de l'Hirondelle
Didier & Jen Ferrier - Douzens, Minervois
This is a land of love stories. Jen, straight out of University of California, jumped on a plane to France, met Didier on an estate that also housed an artists’ commune, fell in love, had kids, bought a house, and started making wine. He is from a longline of vignerons, she the electric-thinking Californian; they now have a stable of beautiful wines.
Jen & Didier are 15 years into their farming project – the creation of a prairie in the vines. “One of the gems we discovered was 100-year-old Carignan whose flavours, we believed, were hidden in mass farming techniques”. When they removed the artificial feed and the pesticides, the vines screamed for 3 years. Less than 50% yield. All sorts of grass & bushes growing and competing for the soils’ food & water. We learned to turn every-other vine row, on a two-year rotation. This created a nitrogen cycle and eventually, healthy soil. After 10 years the vines found their natural health and strength. Now, 15 years later they are thriving, producing more flavour each year.
They have also witnessed the return of a food chain Didier has not seen since he was a child – insects, bees, spiders, migratory birds, hawks, bats. A cacophony of life & noise.
“Didier and I founded our small family winery as a way of working in harmony with our convictions. We want to live slowly, observing the natural cycles around us and following a rhythm dictated by the seasons, make wines that reflect the particular character of our vineyards.”
And that character is blossoming now. More juice, nicer acidity, and mellower tannins. Remarkably 60% more juice. These are happy grapes.
Their project has just received recognition – Jancis Robinson, the FT’s wine writer and one of the world's most respected wine commentators – voted La Joupatière the best Vin de Pays in France.
This wine is made from the oldest vineyard in the village! An exceptional field blend of fifteen heritage varieties planted in the 1890s. La Joupatière, almost undefinable, miraculously escaped phylloxera and the uprooting of old vines that has plagued the Languedoc, it preserves this historic site and its biodiversity: Carignan noir, Grenache noir, Cinsault noir, Mourrastel Boucher noir, Grand noir de la Calmette, Mourvèdre noir, Terret noir, Terret gris, Terret blanc, Olivette blanche, Chasselas doré, Valenci rose and two unidentified varieties…
We stock the top-end range from Jen & Didier, including La Joupatière.