Leon BarralLanguedoc, France
Didier Barral has 25-hectares of biodynamically-farmed vineyards on slightly acid schist soils full of biodiversity.
He believes the secret to great wine starts with healthy soil - and healthy soil is one that is not affected by chemical intervention. “Nowadays, farmers feed the planet but destroy it at the same time. Sometimes they think they are doing the right thing by ploughing too often for example, which eventually damages the soil structure. We have to observe nature and to understand how micro-organisms operate. Then we see that tools and machinery can never replace the natural, gentle work of earthworms, insects and other creatures that travel through a maze of tunnels, creating porosity and aerating the soil, making it permeable and alive. There’s grass in our vineyards and amongst the grass, there are cows and horses: a whole living world that lives together, each dependent on the other and each being vital to the balance of the biotope.” We couldn't put it better ourselves. His ethos goes beyond the vineyard too: all grape sorting is done by hand, fermentation takes place naturally, and the wines have long macerations followed by periods in wood to settle and mature, before bottling without fining or filtration, and just a touch of sulphur.