This is exactly the type of red wine we love from this hot region in the extreme south of France. Banyuls is synonymous with Grenache, and the AOC produces heady, sweet reds from grapes that have raisined in the heat - this is something a little different. A dry red that utilises the baking heat to impart deep dark black fruit flavours to the wine, whilst using the vineyard altitude (and the addition of the white grapes) to preserve some freshness. The thing we love about this wine is the crazy herbal notes - liquorice root, fennel clove... it has an almost medicinal lilt to it. Brilliant hot-climate red without being scorched or overdone - a bottle we definitely recommend drinking in one sitting.
At the extreme southern border of France, the eastern edge of the Pyrenees drops dramatically into the sparkling sapphire waters of the Mediterranean. Here, gnarled bush vines whipped by the fierce Tramuntana winds perch amongst ancient terraces on black schist cliffs facing the sea. These dizzying terraces are impossible to mechanise and the stoney terraced plots exceptionally low yielding. It is only a handful of hardcore growers who have the drive and know-how to tend to these difficult plots.
Banyuls local Thierry Diaz has been tending to his 4 hectares of old indigenous vines on these Banyuls slopes since 2000. First and foremost a viticultor, it wasn’t until 2012 when some winemaker friends invited him to set up Les 9 Caves together and Thierry found himself with a small space to make wine of his own. Refusing formal winemaking training entirely, Thierry firmly believes that good wine is made in the vineyard, not the cellar, and it is for this reason that Thierry practices a simple and intuitive winemaking style. Pure fermented grape juice from old organically farmed vines, with nothing added. Each wine is from a single plot and a perfect representation of that parcel’s singular terroirs.
Thierry’s wines are perfect representations this region’s potential and the beauty which lies in its contrasts and contradictions. They are powerful Mediterranean wines that are simultaneously concentrated, fresh and saline. Ultimately they are pure and honest wines.