80-year-old Grenache vines on a crazy steep slope overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Thierry Diaz & Christelle Caillot
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 and his partner, Christelle Caillot, have been tending to their 4 hectares of old indigenous vines on these Banyuls slopes since 2000. First and foremost a viticulteur, it wasn’t until 2012 when some winemaker friends, Bruno Duchene & Bertrand de Guitaut, invited Thierry 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, representing a specific place along the dramatic Banyuls' terrain.
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.
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