As a teenager, Vivien Hemelsdael studied winemaking in the Alsace.
Both during and after his studies he made ends meet working for a handful of winemakers throughout the region, most notably Domaine Léon Boesch, where he learnt some of his most important lessons in biodynamics.
He then spent time working for winemakers in New Zealand and other parts of France, though it wasn’t long before his parents convinced him to move back to the Minervois and take over the family vineyard.
Before then they had always sold their grapes to the local co-operative. So, at 23 years old, Le Clos des Jarres was born.
His 13 hectares of vines, mostly red varietals, are farmed entirely organically and biodynamically. What is most notable when visiting Vivien’s estate is his impressive work ethic, a respect for the soil and the vine, and an uncompromising sensitivity and sensibility in the cellar.
In a region that has fallen somewhat victim to its own status as a DO, becoming increasingly market influenced rather than following tradition and respecting terroirs, Vivien’s wines are a beacon of light.
The majority of Vivien’s plots are on clay and gravel, all of them over a bedrock of limestone. He farms organically and biodynamically, and Vivien says that the combination of biodynamic farming and a limestone bedrock are what help keep his wines fresh and balanced, rather than overly tannic or fruit heavy, the typical style of Minervois today.
In terms of elevage, he opts for large format very old oak, amphora and fibreglass, vessels that he says help maintain terroirs and freshness in his wines.
Grapes are harvested at the same time, destemmed and macerated on skins for 12 days in fibreglass tank. The wine is then pressed off and passed back to fibreglass where it spends 10 months before bottling. Tiny amount of sulphur added before bottling.
Grapes: Syrah (40%), Grenache (40%), Carignan (20%)
Soil type: Clay and gravel
Age of vines: 20 years
Sulfites added: 15mg/L
Le Clos des Jarres - Abrensis
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