Isle Saint Pierre
Believe it or not, this estate is one of the more interesting ones I’ve visited in France. It’s not because the proprietors have the greatest terroir or the greatest wines. Rather, these guys are experimenting in the vineyards—and having great success—with daring, new techniques they’ve discovered themselves. With palpable energy and passion, young Julien Henry spearheads the operation, though always relying on his father’s support and experience. Julien’s innovations in new vine training systems and high-efficiency farming allows him to keep the family’s organically farmed wines at significantly lower prices than almost anything else on the market. Unlike most wines in this price-point, nothing is lost in the journey from vineyard to bottle, resulting in these graceful, perfumed, perceptibly honest, and straightforward wines.
Lay of the Land
Isle Saint-Pierre is a small island in the middle of the Rhone River, just 25km south of Arles and 15km from the sea. The vineyards, planted at the very heart of the Camargue region, stretch over 170 hectares around the island. The vines benefit from the deep, sandy alluvial soils, and summer's heat is tempered by the proximity to the sea and wetlands surrounding the island. The recurrent winds of the Mistral help keep the vines clean and free of rot and other diseases. It's a flat land, rich in the "good life," with salty-rich, fresh off the boat seafood and simple but charming wines.