Bernard, Domaine de Cadables
This is Bernard Isarn in full flight explaining to me and two friends why he doesn't clear the weeds from his vines. He said he would have to talk so that he looked natural - it wasn't hard as he hardly stops talking about his beloved vines and his Domaine on the old volcanic hill above my village. More about the Domaine here.
I've got to know Bernard a little over the years but now much more since we walked round his vines with him for two hours at his open day today. How could I not like a man whose every other word is 'biodiversity'? There are great stretches of woodland and old vine terraces 'en friche' (lying fallow) between his parcelles of old vines. He explains how he wants to encourage the greatest possible number of plant and animal species, including micro-organisms, to thrive on his land, to make it as healthy as possible. 'The soil is alive', he kept saying. No chemicals, thickets cleared a little to let light in, horses grazing between the vines, adding their manure.
The proof of the pudding is in the drinking, which we were more than ready for after weaving our way round his thirty hectares. He makes a stunning white wine (Carignan Blanc and Terret), dry, mineral, but full of flavour. His rosé (Cinsault) is soft and full and fruity, without the acid edge you often get with this wine which tends to be picked too early, before the grapes have really matured. His reds are complex, softened by a year in oak barrels.
I've been going there and buying wine for a few years and I think the wines are getting better each time, as is usual when someone leaves the Cave Cooperative and starts making their own wine, as he did. One of his reds is called 'Chemin à l'Envers - 'the other way round' is the best equivalent - which is his philosophy compared with that of large-scale chemical agribusiness. Keep going on your contrary path, Bernard.
There's now a fuller version on my blog, An Entangled Bank, here.
- Pentax K-7