Terre des Chardons
Jérôme Chardon seems to have been born with a natural gift for wine. In the year 2000, after thirty years of organic vegetable production, the Chardons family decided to converted some of their apricot and peach groves to vines. From day one, they have been working in a biodynamic way, with Jerome stating, “it was the only way we wanted to go.”
In the beginning, they asked some friends “how to do it”. Jérôme created a list of materials needed, bought them and started without any formal training. The results have been stunning and extremely authentic; if you’ve tasted the wines before, you would know what I am talking about. They are by far the most savory, earthy and spicy wines we work with. His Syrahs taste like something from the Northern Rhône wine region, not from this humble and typically underachieving appellation, Costières de Nîmes. It is a pleasure to watch Jerome glow during conversations about his wines and his discoveries along the way. These are wines that once you stick your nose in the glass, you can’t keep it out because familiar smells emerge one piece at a time along with beautiful things you never thought you’d smell in wine.
Lay Of The Land
Terres de Chardons is located in Costières de Nîmes, an appellation in an area between the ancient city of Nîmes and the western Rhone delta. Though the appellation produces red, white and rosé, red wine accounts for more than half of the production. Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault are amongst the most common red varietals, and Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Ugni Blanc for white. Despite the fact that it is part of the Languedoc region, the wines more closely resemble those of the Rhône Valley due to their freshness and deep, fresh fruit nature. The soils here consist of siliceous rocks, locally known as “gress.” These medium-size quartzite rocks retain warmth from the daytime sun and then restore heat back to the vines at night so the grapes can continue to ripen accordingly. In addition, the soil allows the roots of the vines to dig deeper in order to access water (because it is illegal to water in France!), which is necessary during the long, hot and dry summers in the south. The famous Mistral winds blow steadily throughout the valley, guaranteeing ventilation for the grapes and limiting the risk of rot and disease.