They look different, they have distinct flavours, and they’re made by different people. What brings these wines together is that both wines are made in a way that respects their place of origin. And not just a metaphorical respect like maintaining a local style of wine. Chateau La Baronne and Ciu Ciu Le Merlettaie are made with a literal respect for the soils where the vines grow – they are both grown organically.
The purpose of organic agriculture is to grow better quality crops without relying on man-made chemical products, and organic viticulture is no different. In the vineyard, an organic winemaker uses animal, plant or mineral based herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers instead of synthetic alternatives. The idea behind this method of production is that it improves plant immunity and nutrient uptake resulting in a tastier, more nutritious product, as well as healthier and more productive soil.
There’s no question that you can make fantastic wine using non-organic agriculture. By default, most great wines aren’t organic because only around 6% of all vineyards are farmed organically. But it’s also true that using the organic approach adds an extra dimension to wine.
And if ever there was a wine to show off the extra depth and complexity that comes from sustainable vineyard practices, it would have to be Chateau La Baronne Corbières. The wine is a blend
of Carignan and Grenache, full of dark berry and gentle spice character. On the nose, there are violet, blackberry and the dry herb aromas typical of the south of France. The flavours are soft and gentle with more blackberry from the Carignan and subtle white pepper from the Grenache.
The Carignan vines at Chateau La Baronne are an excellent showpiece for Organic viticulture. At 122 years old, these Carignan are some of the oldest vines in France but are in the peak of health thanks to the organic practices at Chateau La Baronne. The Ligneres family own and run Chateau La Baronne and have been taking care of these Carignan since 1957. Sixty plus years of organic (and Biodynamic) agriculture have contributed to the health and longevity of these particular vines.
Like Chateau La Baronne, Ciu Ciu is firmly rooted in its locality. Ciu Ciu Pecorino is named “Le Merlettaie”, which means “The Lacemaker”. This name brings the heritage of Offida together with the delicate intricacy of the Pecorino grape. Offida, in Italy’s Marche region, has a lace making tradition that stretches back more than five centuries. Like the town’s graceful lace creations, the Pecorino grape requires deftness and sensitivity to be brought to fruition.
Deftness and sensitivity are exactly what these grapes get. Ciu Ciu grow their grapes organically with the objective of allowing the wine to become “the most authentic expression of the land”. Pride in the traditions of the Marche region, the original home of the Pecorino grape, goes into every step of the winemaking process at Ciu Ciu. The result is an outstanding wine that offers mandarin orange, lime zest and melon scents. The flavours of almond and citrus are complemented by a rich and nutty texture.
Both Chateau La Baronne Corbières and Ciu Ciu Le Merlettaie Pecorino benefit greatly from being produced organically. Jean Ligneres of Chateau La Baronne attributes the mineral complexity of his wine to his use of organic methods. Likewise, Walter Bartolomei of Ciu Ciu believes that only an organic wine can truly represent its place. You can taste both these wines at our stores in Arnotts or Mullingar from Monday, September 25th and decide whether or not you agree with these winemakers.