Bellegarde, Costières de NÎmes
Terre des Chardons
The Chardon family moved from Touraine 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 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 rafers, traditional baked earth tiles and 8cm thick cork
The 9 hectares of vineyards 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 NÎmes 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 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. 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.