Domaine Balazu des Vaussières

Year Established: 1983
Location: Tavel 
Size: 5 hectares
Varieties: Reds: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre; Whites: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette, Bourboulenc 
Viticulture: Biodynamic since 2004 
Vinification: Indigenous yeasts, aging in stainless steel

Christian and Nadia Charmasson are wizards, in the best and oldest sense of the word. They are so connected to their vineyards and their soils that you wouldn’t be surprised if they had roots coming out of their shoes. A visit to the domaine is not complete without a walk in the vineyards, where Nadia will spend much of the time pointing out the wildflowers growing in the rows and expounding upon their medicinal uses – for both humans and vines. The vineyards are treated with many different infusions of herbs, flowers, silica, and bentonite, but never copper. Sulfur is used only very occasionally – only when the threat of powdery mildew is high.
The grapes are harvested into small bins and the bins are stacked in a refrigerated truck. Once back in the small winery, the whole clusters are placed into stainless steel tanks without additives of any kind. Fermentation will take place in these tanks over a period of two to four years. Christian and Nadia don’t take any samples for lab analysis – in fact they don’t even open the seals to taste the wine! All decisions are made by listening for the different sounds of fermentation, and by understanding the original state of the grapes after harvest. When fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed and put back into the tank where it will sit again for many months before bottling. Bottling is done by gravity, by hand, without fining or filtration.
The wines themselves are like no other wines from the area (or anywhere else!). They are full of fruit for sure, but also earth and smoke and dust and branches and leaves and roots and everything going on under the ground and above it. They can be shy when first opened, but the magic will reveal itself given a little air and time.