Ardèche Soil Study at Les 7 Pierres

Exploring the Mas Heritage Terroir with François Tissot

May 21, 2021
Rosières, Ardèche

At the end of May, we visited Les 7 Pierres vigneron, François Tissot, at his property Mas Heritage, where he has been working in the Ardèche region since 2013, in the commune of Rosières.

On the program, a tour of his parcels and specifically, an exchange on his viticultural choices and the wines he seeks to produce. The Mas Heritage 2018 red wine has just been released, the first vintage made from 100% of the 7 Pierres vineyards! Obviously his pride and joy, and above all what a journey since the beginning of this adventure at Mas Heritage!

The Mas Heritage property was a happy discovery for him, a bit of a coincidence as he explains. After 10 years of managing Chateau Paradis in the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence and dreaming of setting up his own estate, he found the ideal site in the Ardèche – his new piece of paradise.

Today he is realizing his dream, after having done the titanic work to renovate the 19th century buildings and replant the teraraced-vineyards, previously abandoned and colonized by the pine forest.

Here, no large parcel, but rather a myriad of terraces – he has 18 terraces currently planted on the 3 ha around the property! 

The largest are 25 ares and the smallest … a few rows.

Let’s take the time to go with him to see the vineyards … on video!

Virtual Visit with François Tissot

In the following report, we have added a few videos featuring François talking about his viticultural philosophies, and this place that he continually discovers vintage after vintage.

We can divide this series in several points:

– The sandy nature of the estate’s soils and what this implies for the vines
– How to optimize the life of these soils?
– Presentation of Mas Heritage red 2018 
– The range of wines produced 

What is the type of soil at Les 7 Pierres?

The domain is 5 ha, today 3 ha are in production. The whole is planted on a very homogeneous soil, of sandstone of the Cevennes Triassic, very draining sandy soils.
The advantage is to produce wines with a lot of elegance, the constraints … François tells us about it in the video below.

Viticulture Methods Adopted by François Tissot

François has a second activity and works as a viticultural advisor for organic winegrowers. Each vineyard is different, requiring the winemaker to constantly reflect on how to best adapt his farming techniques and produce quality grapes that best express their terroir.

François remains an advocate of living soils.
According to him, plant cover is very interesting, especially if it is selected, but plant cover on sandy, highly-draining soils is a daily challenge. Indeed, the low water retention of sandstone combined with summer droughts and torrential rains during the Cevennes episodes complicate enormously this reflection.

Today, François continues to test his practices. 
After sowing alfalfa after the harvest and limiting his tillage to a minimum, he has to reconsider his approach.
Without tillage, the rain will not penetrate the soil and will run off.

So, for a few vintages now, François has been working his soil, but as late as possible and not all the way down the row. His idea is to keep the center of the row with vegetation.

He chooses legumes that can be reseeded from one year to the next, since he lets them go through their lifecycle.

François explains that legumes are microorganism-compatible, meaning that they favor the development of a dense and rich microbial population.  

New Cuvée - Mas Heritage Rouge 2018

The wine has just been bottled, it is an unusual blend but dear to François with 80% Syrah and 20% Pinot Noir. Here 100% of the grapes come from the 7 Pierres estate.

The vinification of the two grape varieties was done separately, and the wine was aged for two years in demi-muids to allow the tannins to develop.

The Range of Wines

Les 7 Pierres refers to the 7 Ardèche wine appellations from the Crus in the north to the Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Vivarais in the south that François has united under the name of Les 7 Pierres.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.