Les Frères Soulier
Brothers Charles and Guillaume Soulier farm 10ha of vineyards around the tiny village of Saint-Hilaire-d’Olizhan. The village sits in the Gard department in Southern France, about half an hour west of Avignon. They took the reins from their father in 2014, and made their first wine in 2015. They farm mainly Grenache and Syrah, but have also planted forgotten local varieties such as Counoise, Terret Noir and Picardin.
They follow biodynamic principles in the vineyards, with the main focus being on soil health. Their aim is to create a biodiverse environment from the ground up, to establish and encourage microbial life. They forgo the use of heavy machinery in the vineyards so as to disturb the soil as little as possible, only using a horse for ploughing, and doing everything else by hand. There are goats, sheep and chickens that roam free in the vines during the day, to eat the weeds and grass, and to fertilise the soils as well. Speaking of soils, they vary, with sand, clay, red clay, large pebbles, as well as lots of limestone which is notably evident in some plots. There are trees and plants everywhere you look, and the whole area seems to be thriving with life. It’s a beautiful setting and the foundation of where some beautiful wines are made.
The grapes are cooled after harvest before vinification begins, and this brings about a certain freshness and elegance, which is often rare in wines found in Southern France. They use a very old basket press which requires two people to operate. Charles makes a lot of blanc de noir wines which are aromatic, lively, and play tricks on the mind. He also likes to work without topping up his barrels, instead letting a flor develop. This protects the wines, makes them stronger, and locks in freshness. They aim for zero SO2, but occasionally use a very small amount in some wines when required. The final products are very unique, and like nothing else you would have tasted before. Allocations are quite small, but I’m very happy to be able to showcase the brothers’ work here in Australia.