There are mavericks. Then there is Didier Barral from Faugères in the heart of Languedoc, who is a deeply questing vigneron, a farmer’s farmer, if you like, whose obsession with minutiae forms the bigger picture. Didier owns 35-hectares of biodynamically-farmed vineyards situated in a forest of garrigue 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.
Didier Barral represents the 13th generation to grow grapes in the tiny hamlet of Lenthéric, deep in the heart of the Languedoc. Domaine Léon Barral is a beacon of revolutionary winegrowing: shortly after founding the domaine, Didier decided that biodynamic practices were best for his 30 hectares of vineyards. His vines are very old—some up to 90 years of age—keeping yields naturally low. Once in the cellar, Didier’s harvest is cared for with the same zeal, though he would consider the wine all but finished once it leaves the vineyard. This level of artisanship was once nearly extinct, had it not been for Didier and the profound influence he has over viticulteurs who now see how his work ethic and ideology translates to results.
Faugères tradition, 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. The maceration is 3-4 weeks in cement with manual punch-downs and the wine is aged for two years in a mix of cement and stainless tank.