New producer: Robert Eden’s biodynamic paradise in Minervois
There’s sustainable winemaking and then there’s Chateau Maris. Purchased by British ex-pat Robert Eden in 1997, the 79ha domaine in Minervois’ La Liviniere (cru classe) is 100% organic and biodynamic, but it doesn’t stop there.
The winery itself helps maintain the area’s natural balance by absorbing excess CO₂ into the hemp bricks from which it is built. They will passively consume CO₂ for the next 20 to 25 years, while plants on the roof also offset emissions from the winemaking process. In addition to their carbon-neutralising qualities, hemp bricks (unlike metal or concrete) are still ‘alive’ and therefore able to breathe. This allows them to maintain the winery’s temperature and humidity at a constant level without the need for artificial heating, cooling or ventilation.
The grapes, must and wine are moved around the winery by gravity alone, meaning grapes are handled as gently as possible without expending additional energy. Water is collected from rainfall and then recycled.
Biodynamics in practice
Robert Eden believes that vines can’t work in isolation. His Ecocert-, Biodyvin- and Demeter-certified vineyards are lively, complex ecosystems with a variety of plants and animals working together to ensure the soil is alive and healthy. The overriding philosophy is that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other modern farming methods might increase grape yields, but they also poison the soil and mask the vineyard’s true terroir. By maintaining a delicate, natural balance in the vineyard, he is able to make individually expressive and well-balanced wines in the cellar.
As fertilizer they use compost made from local cow and sheep manure along with manure produced by the horses which are used to plough some of the plots. The organic compost is supplemented by crops of barley, bulgur and mustard that are grown between rows and ploughed into the soil in order to avoid the adverse effects of monoculture.
Pest control is carried out by treating the vineyards with nettle tea, chamomile and lavender. Not an artificial chemical in sight.
Dynamic Southern France
Chateau Maris joins the Walker & Wodehouse portfolio alongside a range of dynamic producers from this exciting corner of France. Alongside Chateau Maris our range now includes wines from Chateau Coupe Roses, Domaine des Paissels and Mas de Capitelles, as well as our long-time collaborator Domaine Lafage, in the more southerly Cotes du Roussillon.
Buyer Alastair Pyatt says, “Chateau Maris, with Robert Eden at the helm, is at the forefront of biodynamic and organic grape growing and wine production. In 20 years they have built a highly respected chateau, and excited worldwide critics, being cited by Wine Advocate as ‘The Bottle Apostles of the Languedoc’. I’d encourage every independent to taste the Maris range as it fits perfectly with today’s environmentally-conscious wine consumer.”
Wines of vibrancy and texture
Retailing at under £20 the following three wines from Chateau Maris are great examples of the high-quality, excellent-value winemaking for which the south of France has become well known.
Minervois Maris 2015, Cru la Livinière – RRP £13.99
Made from vines averaging 20 years old, this blend of Syrah (70%) and Grenache (30%) is packed with pure fruit flavours of blackcurrants, raspberries and cherries, with a seasoning of thyme.
Rosé de Nymphe Grenache Noir 2016, Vin de France – RRP £15.49
Named after a pale pink rose called the “Cuisse de Nymph” this fresh and mineral rosé is a blend of Grenache and Syrah with notes of eucalyptus, strawberry and orange zest.
La Touge Syrah Grenache 2014, Cru la Livinière – RRP £17.99
This Syrah and Grenache blend has been aged for 16 months in concrete, giving the wine a moreish texture along with flavours of ripe black fruit and spicy, peppery notes.
Contact us to try any of these exciting new wines.