Run by three siblings, Clos Fantine is an especially important southern French natural wine estate – as much for their farming and history as for their low-intervention and the frontier vintages of their range. Corine, Carole, & Olivier Andrieu have run the 30hectare estate outside the town of Cabrerolles in the schistous foothills of Faugères since the passing of their father in 1997, who had long eschewed the use of chemicals, pesticides, & the like throughout their plantings. Following on from this impulse, the sibling-vignerons have for nearly two decades now practiced radical no-till (i.e. not plowing between the vines – rather, they use the seasonal movement of sheep from one pasture to another to temper the growth of wild grasses throughout their vines) viticulture, and have also abandoned the use of any sulfites in the raising of their wines. Theirs is a fascinating project that feels at once old-school and quite ‘established’ while also being employed by experimentation and a kind of radical ethos whereby their bottles are as intuitive as they are ‘expected.’ In this way, the wines are nearly impossible to categorize aside from saying they show very different aspects of their character in their youth versus some stoic aging. They are garrigue-dappled delights that mix rusticity with, somehow, generous ‘drinkability’ i.e. a lighter body that retains depth. They feel like magic tricks, in a way, but they are as honest as they come. Was this your card?
Cinsault, Aramon & Grenache Noir. Cinsault is fermented for 3 to 4 days in concrete, then Aramon is added, followed by a direct press of Grenache. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, no SO2. A red for the first chilly days of Fall. Fennel, garrigue, wild berries and subtle tannin. Decant or give the wine a bit of a shake before serving.