Visiting Les 7 Pierres, September 2019, Ardèche, Rhône
Les 7 Pierres : a look back at the climate from the past
September 1st, 2019
It is still very hot when I arrive in Joyeuse. The sky is overcast today and the temperature is flirting with +30° C when it is already 6:30 pm. Since the end of July, the rains have been waiting and the heat wave has been in place.
Here is a look back to understand the current vintage.
Unlike some French regions, the Ardèche experienced rains in late autumn and winter: November, December and early January were very humid. Then at the end of January and February, the weather shifted to dry until March, and then was wet again.
Winter was normally cold with about a month of negative temperatures allowing the vines to rest. It snowed – not only to the delight of the vines but also of the happiness of the Tissot children! For the vineyard, the snow allows water to be completely assimilated by the plant, there is no runoff: the snow melts slowly and water is available on site. Even if it is not large quantities of water that are brought in, this is a great benefit for the vines.
April and May were cold, and freezing temperatures in the first days of April – burning the leaves in the bud, we call it black bud. At Mas Heritage, a few Grenache vines planted at the entrance to the estate and better protected from the wind were affected, but in a small proportion.
The duo: rain and cool temperatures around flowering (early June) had us fearing the arrival of black rot, but the heat that followed quickly prevented disease.
At the end of June, the first heat wave episode was handled fairly well by the vines, which had accumulated available water. But since the end of July, the heat wave has been a heavy burden for the vines. The grapes are small, and there will be no closure of the bunch!
François waits to reveal his harvest dates, it is still too early to decide.
Maturity checks have started. This year it takes 410 berries to make the controls against 200 in general to reach 500 g of fruit.
2019 will be a year of small harvests with no major surprises.
Work in the Vines
In 2013, François carried out his first planting campaign at Mas Heritage, with 1.80 ha of vines.
Unfortunately, out of the 1.80 ha, a small area of vines did not grow well and remained stunted, despite the regular autumn sowings made by François to enrich and work the soil.
Looking back a little bit, the years 2013 and 2014 were two vintages very affected by the Cévennes episodes. These are stormy rains that hit the Cévennes and flow into the Ardèche, in heavy rains.
When the plants have been in place for 10 years or more, the vines are not very affected, but on the plantations this may have given more complicated results. The soils of a plantation have been worked upstream and are quickly compacted in case of heavy rains!
François therefore decided to dig out these vines of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon for the whites.
The soils are currently at rest. At the end of the harvest, green manure seedlings will be applied to nourish the soil and not leave it bare. This will continue to preserve the developed microbial life.
With the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon, the vines will be replanted identically in spring 2021 because the past harvests were of very good quality.
Especially the Pinot Noir! It’s a good thing because it’s a grape variety that François likes very much.
Vintage 2019 : External Threats
François does not complain about any threats. His vineyard seems to be sheltered from wild boars, which often wreak havoc in the vineyards. However, its vines are placed near the woods and the Ardèche is known to host these mammals.
François explains to me that his neighbours are hunters – he adds, having fun, “they probably do their job!” The hunting season was opened a week earlier this year and the result is that our winegrower is not bothered by these pests.
The year that started wet, then dry and very hot is a year without disease pressure. François has treated very little, he calculates at less than 1 kg of copper applied per hectare.
New Boutique – in Joyeuse
Before the summer, the estate opened a shop in the centre of Joyeuse. The whole range of wines is available for tasting.
It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm to 7.30pm!
If you need wines at the last minute for your dinner or aperitif… you know where to find them.
If you are still on holiday and visiting this beautiful region… you are welcome to discover François’ wines and leave with good local memories.
Creation of a cellar directly on the estate at Mas Heritage
Last year, we presented François’ new wine cellar, it was very comfortable but a little far from the Mas Heritage estate. It only allowed the vinification of the 2018 vintage, as the former owner wanted to take back his premises.
For those who do not know François, I will say to sum up that he is always positive, he never stops on a difficult situation, and instead welcomes the challenge to turn it into strength. The proof with this move allowed him to create his cellar directly on the estate: a luxury!
François has reorganized the space, the old bottle storage cellar is now in Joyeuse, next to the new shop. And the storage room became the winemaking cellar.
The enormous advantage for this upcoming vintage is therefore the possibility of vinifying on site!
To equip the cellar, a batch of 4 tanks has just been delivered. François had already installed his barrels: 3 demi-muids for the reds and 11 barrels for the whites. Finally, an investment in a refrigeration unit completes the equipment for vinification under ideal conditions. According to François, this is the key to producing wines of great finesse!
Everything is ready to welcome the grapes!
Photo of the cellar, barrels and vinification tanks
Wines Available from Les 7 Pierres
The Wines of Domaine François Tissot – Mas Heritage
Mas Heritage Blanc – Cuvée Marie
The white 2017 is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Riesling vinified in vats, 30% of which are new barrels. The wine in bottle for a few months is already very expressive.
Honey on the nose, the texture is creamy and creamy with aromas of peach, nectarine, toast, brioche, fennel, anise, lime. The palate is long, very pleasant to drink, a touch of pleasant almond-skin bitterness on the finish.
Mas Heritage Rouge
The red, a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Pinot Noir, will be bottled just after the harvest. The wine already has a remarkable silky taste. The tannins are very fine. We find the characteristic of the vines planted on sandstone and sand.
The wines of François négoce – Les 7 Pierres
The range is complete with all the appellations of Ardèche:
Cotes du Vivarais 2016
Coteaux de l’Ardèche rouge 2017
Coteaux de l’Ardèche blanc 2018
St Joseph rouge 2017
St Joseph blanc 2017
Côtes du Rhône 2018
Saint Peray 2017