The process in the cellar is meticulous: whole bunches are put into underground concrete tanks and slowly fermented without the addition of yeast, acid or sugar, and with very little sulfur. As the cellar is so small and fermentation tanks so old, there are no openings other than the tops of the tanks. Hence after 4 weeks, Gradassi removes the fermented juice and macerated berries by hand with a bucket and a rope – a painstaking process that can take up to a week. The must is then pressed and transferred into older barrels (4 to 10 years) and aged for 10 months without racking. Purely out of necessity, Gradassi’s extremely simple approach is achieved entirely by hand and the help of gravity, without the use of technology or modern oenological techniques.
Jérôme Gradassi could have rested on the laurels of his Michelin-starred Avignon restaurant, L’Isle Sonnante. But in 2004, he took over eight acres of old Grenache vines once owned by his grandfather and taught himself to make wine. Learning by trial and error, Gradassi has become one of the most exciting new winemakers in France, making just one white and one red.