I was with Thierry Allemand a couple of years ago and he took me to his favorite restaurant, La Cachette in Valence, for dinner after our tasting; with a few others we sat back and ordered some great bottles, all were superb but the Faugères from Barral had us all in awe – it was served last and it trounced everything we had had; it had Thierry shaking his head. That is one serious complement!
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. This is a wine that although delicious now will also cellar to advantage for 10 years.
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.
Dider Barral produces some of the most compelling wines in France in my opinion. It all starts in the vineyard where the health of the soil and its elemants and the creatures that live within it are encouraged to thrive. There are also 30 cows that live in the vines, 1 for each hectare! The result is low yeilds of incredible fruit and wines that practically make themselves with Didier’s steady hand gently guiding them along. This is estate practices observation rather than intervation and it’s powerful, rustic wines need to be tasted to be understood. This estate is now regarded as one of the “greats” in 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. The mouth follows the nose, conveying a suppleness, where density and power are controlled and shows an acidity that completes the wine, gives it equilibrium, finesse, length in the mouth as well as a great capacity to age. Fabulous wine and indeed one of the best of France, noted critic Jacqueline Frederich calling it the ‘Chambertin of the South’