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Online Wine Shop  >  Wines by grower - alphabetical  >  Terre des Chardons - Nimes (biodynamic)

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Terre des Chardons
Terre des Chardons
The Chardon family moved from Touraine (in the Loire Valley) to Bellegarde in the early 1980's, where they bought some land and began farming fruits such as apricots and cherries and vegetables, converting to organic farming a few years later. When their son Jerome graduated from his studies in agronomy in 1993, he moved to the estate to assist his parents. At the same time, he planted vineyards with Syrah and Grenache, and also bought an established vineyard planted with Clairette (the local white variety). The estate has for many years now been certified as both organic and biodynamic - indeed, Jerome displays a clear passion not just for organic and biodynamic viticulture, but for the whole ethos of sustainable farming and respect for tradition. This even extends to the winery, which he built himself next to the farmhouse, from natural materials. The walls are made from the same stone that was used by the Romans to build the nearby Pont du Gard. Each one is 2.1m wide, 0.9m high and 0.6m thick and weighs a whopping 2.5 tons! The roof structure consists of untreated oak beams and rafters, traditional baked earth tiles and 8cm thick cork insulation. The result is an extremely functional and cool yet really rather beautiful chai. The tasting table is actually a huge (and very ancient) grape press, which was rescued from a Burgundy grower who was about to send it to the tip.
The 9 hectares of vineyards (2 ha of Clairette, 4.3 ha of Syrah and 2.1 ha of Grenache) surround the property, along with fruit and olive trees. The soil consists of the same sort of siliceous rocks that are the hallmark of the Costières de Nimes region, and of course Chateauneuf du Pape, a few kilometres up-river, whilst the vines are trained on wire trellises, in order to facilitate good air circulation. No chemicals (apart from the occasional treatment with a very weak "Bordeaux mix") are used in the vineyards, the only regular treatments being completely natural herbal and biodynamic sprays and soil treatments, plus shallow tilling to keep weeds to a manageable level (with a flock of sheep doing their bit for the cause through the winter!).

Similarly, no chemicals are used in the winery, save of course for a little SO2 at the fermentation and bottling stages. The grapes are de-stemmed and some parcels fermented traditionally, whilst others go through a sort of semi-carbonic maceration, depending on the style required from each parcel. Fermentation is entirely reliant on the naturally-occurring indigenous yeasts. Picking, racking and bottling are all carried out in accordance with the phases of the moon.

Rather importantly (in fact crucially, in my opinion) the wines are all aged in vat - the only oak barrels in sight are old and purely ornamental. Which - biodynamic practices aside - is one of the main reasons why the wines all taste so alive and "un-mucked-about-with". Indeed, the reds are a real eye-opener, and re-define for me what is possible in this little corner of south-east Languedoc. In fact, not only do they set a new benchmark for the Costières de Nimes appellation, they are simply some of the best Languedoc Syrah-based wines we have ever tasted. Trust me - they are that good!

You can read an expanded report on our 2013 visit to Terre des Chardons on the Leon Stolarski Blog.

Terre des Chardons Clairette d'Été 2016 Clairette de Bellegarde
Terre des Chardons Clairette 2016

Region Bellegarde, in the south-east of Costières de Nimes
Colour/Style Dry white - medium-bodied.
Grapes 100% Clairette
Alcohol (a.b.v)
Food Aperitif, salads, seafoods, chicken, creamy cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Drink now or over the next 2 or 3 years
Slightly hazy - bottled young and without fining or filtering, it will no doubt settle and clear in a few months. An expressive, leafy/minty nose, with notes of spring flowers, lemon zest, nectarine, garrigue herbs and a hint of stony minerality. The palate is soft and creamy, with flavours of stone fruit, water melon, baked apple, soft citrus zest and fennel, with a really quite unusual (for a white) saline, mineral tang, and a long, gently savoury finish. Close your eyes and you might even think you were drinking a Provence rose. If you like your wines with loads of overt acidity, this may not be for you, but if you fancy an aperitif to go with a bowl of olives, peppers and cured charcuterie, this is the perfect partner. Certified organic and biodynamic.

Price:  £11.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)


Terre des Chardons Chardon-Marie 2014 Costières de Nîmes
Terre des Chardons Chardon-Marie 2014

Region Costières de Nimes
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes Almost 100% Syrah, with just a tiny amount of Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
Food Rack of lamb, rib of beef, feathered game, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 10+ years
This is the estate's top red wine, named in honour of winemaker Jerome Chardon's grandmother, Marie (Chardon-Marie is also the French name for milk thistle, hence the label design and the play on words). It comes from the best parcel of Syrah vines, with - allegedly - just a splash of Grenache in the mix, to conform to the Costieres de Nimes appellation rules. All manner of red and black fruits greet the nose - raspberry, blackcurrant and dark cherry, with notes of black olive tapenade, cumin, fenugreek, peppermint and a hint of polished leather. As with the 2012, it is so fresh and full of life, with dark, concentrated black and red fruit and garrigue herb flavours, countered by stoney, citrussy minerality, along with ripe, tea-like tannins and cracking acidity. Another supremely balanced and deceptively elegant wine, with a long, cool, sweet and sour finish. Again, it is very much in the Northern Rhone style of winemaking (think of a young, ripe Cote-Rotie) and has the capacity to age and evolve beautifully, over the next 10 years or more. Fabulous wine! Certified organic and biodynamic.

Price:  £24.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)


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Minimum order value, delivery charges, times and restrictions
We deliver only to UK and Northern Ireland addresses. The minimum order value is £75 (plus the delivery charge). You may of course choose a mix of any wines in our range. Orders between £75 and £200: delivery charge is £7.50. Orders over £200: delivery is free! (If your order is over £200, please remember to change the delivery charge in checkout to £0.00). Please note: Delivery to non-mainland addresses (Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, etc.) is usually possible, but may not be on a next-working-day basis. It is also more expensive than delivery to mainland addresses, so will be charged at cost (for orders under £200) but with a small discount for orders over £200 - please call us for a quote.

Warning - you must be aged 18 or over
It is an offence to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under the age of 18. (Section 149 Licensing Act 2003).We reserve the right to seek proof of age. Leon Stolarski says "drink less, but drink better!" Please consume alcohol in moderation.