Our “integrated viticulture” approach relies on natural products and reduces the use of fungicides and other chemicals; we have not used weed killer for over a decade, preferring to plough the earth instead. We nourish our vines and keep pests at bay by using manure and organic soil conditioners which increase resistance to parasites and diseases.
In early 2009, with a decade of growing grapes with the bare minimum of treatments and the least chemical intervention possible, we registered for Ecocert status.
Our 2011 vintage will be the first officially-organic fruit of our labours; the seeds for this result were effectively sewn many moons before.
Harvest, vinification and ageing: a labour of love
It goes without saying that the work in the winery is as meticulous as in the vineyard. However, when it comes to winemaking, we aim to pair rigour with a certain lightness of touch. Gentle extraction is the name of the game.
Each parcel and variety is vinified separately. After destemming - and without crushing - the grapes undergo a long fermentation in stainless steel or French Haute Futaie oak, followed by a gentle pressing with a vertical, hydraulic wine press, similar to those found in Pétrus and Yquem.
We taste on a daily basis, and punch down and pump over accordingly. Maturation takes place in French Haute Futaie oak barrels (15% Russian oak is also used for a more subtle effect), depending on the characteristics and the vintage. We work with one, two, and three yearold barrels in a variety of sizes, from 225 litres up to the 600 litre demi-muid. Subtlety is our watchword, so most of our production is aged in demi-muids, which we replace every five years. The barrels are housed for 12 months in a cellar where the temperature and hygrometry are carefully controlled.
Finally, at the end of this period, I start to make my blends. I begin by imagining the wine I want to make, and then try to create it in a glass. Our blends are greater than the sum of their parts; each variety brings something different to the mix, and enhances the other. The fruity character of Grenache and Cinsault is underpinned by the structure of Carignan; Syrah brings texture and subtlety, while Mourvèdre adds texture and length.Blending is a complex, creative process, similar to painting, or writing poetry.Each year I write a new poem, using words such as fruit, structure, texture,minerality, precision, balance, elegance, freshness, subtlety and length.The blending is the part of my job that I particularly enjoy; it is the culminationof an on-going process that started years before I set foot in the vineyard (our oldest vines date back to 1970) and which will, I trust, continue for many years after my demise. It links me firmly to this region and its noble, sometimeschequered history.
Viticulture : A unique and focus approche
Our ship is tightly run, and bijou-sized; having just 10 hectares under vine allows us to get right down to the detail. From the carefully-tended vineyards to the pristine, pink-hued, modern winery, we apply a highly focused approach. US wine writer Tom Fiorina was a recent visitor to Le Mas de l’Ecriture. On he writes : “To say that Fullá is a perfectionist is like saying that fellow Catalan Salvador Dalí was a skilled draftsman. This is a jewel of a vineyard : the soil under each vine is arranged almost stone-by-stone. The vines look as if they have been manicured, not pruned, and even the weeds that are left growing between vine rows to draw off excess moisture seem orderly.” To get the expression of fruit and the typicity for which we strive, we set a low, 18-to-22 hectolitre/hectare yield ratio on our vines (the ratio officially allowed within the Terrasses du Larzac appellation is 50). Accurate pruning, leaf thinning, a green harvest to cull grapes, and double sorting of the grapes (once, when they are hand-picked, then again on a sorting table); there is no place for the unripe or unhealthy. These measures ensure we only work with the highest quality fruit.