MEET Vincent Rochette
Vincent Rochette is the third generation of his family to grow grapes at Domaine Roche Audran. In 1998 he make the decision to take Roche Audran independent and set up his own winery, separating from the Visan co-operative to make wines true to his vision. His focus on every step of the journey from vine to glass, coupled with his devotion to biodynamic principles results in wines that are truly authentic expressions of the stony terroir of the Southern Rhône.
Introduce us to Domaine Roche Audran:
The winery stands proudly in an area of preserved woodland at the foot of the Buisson vineyard, on land cultivated by our family for five generations. Today the estate extends over 50 hectares where 35 hectares of vines, 5 hectares of olive and lavender trees and 10 hectares of oak and pine woods come together. The vineyard is thus spread over the terroirs of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vaison La Romaine and Visan with vines aged from 1 year, for new plantations, to around 100 years, for the oldest.
What does sustainability mean to you?
For us, it’s about understanding the harmfulness of chemicals such as pesticides and ruling out their use. With conventional agriculture increasingly confronted with depletion of soils and a growing dependence on fertilisers and phytosanitary products, we rapidly embraced Biodynamics as we developed the domaine.
What steps are you taking to be more sustainable and mitigate the effects of climate change?
Being as biodiverse as possible is of key importance to us. The rich natural local vegetation and the variety of flora give a specific character and aromatic complexity to our wines. The cultivation of olive trees and lavender, the production of honey and the grazing of our own horses in the winter months provide additional energy and contribute to the harmony of our ecosystem. The animals are considered as our partners. It’s also been 20 years since we stopped working the soils between July and March. During those 8 months, grass and wildflowers are allowed to naturally rotate in the vineyard. This biodiversity contributes to the health of the soil, enhancing storage of minerals and natural fertilisers. Careful canopy management during the summer protects the soil from sunlight and preserves moisture in the plants. Soil aeration between April and June contribute to the vines growth as well as to a good water penetration of spring rain. All of this helps to protect us from the increased heat and drought climate change brings.
What impact do you think climate change will have in your region over the next few decades?
Drought will have a severe impact on our vineyards. Over just the past 3 years we have already noticed that our Syrah and Viognier vines have been particularly impacted by the lack of water. Production has fallen and the vines have suffered. There is more dry wood in the trunk of the vine, which shows the stress it is under. Thankfully Grenache, a key variety in our vineyard, has continued to flourish despite the heat.
Briefly describe your winemaking style.
We gently vinify our wines in concrete and stainless steel tanks, but a portion of our Cesar, Marius and Chateauneuf du Pape cuvées will be made using oak casks. The only intervention we use is sulphur dioxide, but only in very small doses. The exception is our Natural cuvée, which is entirely sulphite free. The wines are filtered to guarantee purity.
How would you pitch your wine to a customer in a restaurant?
This organic and biodynamic Côtes du Rhône from the south of the Rhône Valley is a delight. An intense fruitiness reveals aromas of black fruits, violets and spices. The tannins are silky and elegant, so you can enjoy it by the glass or as an accompaniment to a meal.
Which is your favourite grape variety to work with?
Grenache: it expresses the very best of our terroir. It also has four different colour mutations: Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Grenache Rosé. I’m lucky to have all in the vineyard and it is a pleasure to work with them. Everyday is a great adventure.
What do you think is the key trend in the world of wine?
Organic wines are going to continue to grow in importance, especially given the global health and climate crisis we are going through today.