The initial reason why Daniel and Hélène Boulle decided to convert to organic and biodynamic wine production was their attempt to use natural methods in order to treat their son’s eczema (as good a reason as any). They received both their Biodivin certification, for adopting biodynamic practises, and their Ecocert, for growing organically, in 2007, five years after starting to move away from conventional methods.
The 60 hectares Domaine Les Aphillanthes, near Gigondas in the Rhone Valley, is now famed for its low level of intervention, creating wines with a fine minerality that truly express the terroir. It is well known for the high quality of grapes, with Daniel and Hélène keeping only the finest 80 per cent of grapes produced, selling the rest. They tend to limit themselves to 130,000 bottles every year, and produce yields of about 25-30hl/ha, significantly less than the locally allowed 45hl/ha. In fact, the domain is so committed to quality, it is even prepared to skip a vintage entirely if it is not up to standard – for example, they sold all of the grapes in 2008.
Daniel and Hélène first took over Domaine Les Aphillanthes in 1987, back when it was a modest 10 hectares. Daniel was the fourth generation of his family to work these vines. The grapes grown on the parcels were at first sold to the local co-operative to be used in blends. It was only after 12 years that they both realised that making their own wine would be far better than continuing to do this. As a result, they built a new winery in 2000.
The parcels are spread around three local towns, Travaillan, Cairanne and Sérignan. The soil here is fine and loose, and made up limestone and clay with small round stones. It is healthy soil, without pollution from the synthetic chemicals so often used in conventional winemaking. The vines here can grow as deep as a 30 metres!
You can find the excellent wines of Domaine Les Aphillanthes in some of Europe’s finest restaurants.
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