Jean-Luc Chossart and Isabelle Jolly bought a rambling Catalan walled farmhouse and coaching inn just west of the village of Espira de l’Agly in 2005. This village lies very close to the town of Rivesaltes, which in turn lies just north of the city of Perpignan.
Their vineyards are bordered at the back by an arc of the Agly river which cuts through schistous marl rocks to form a natural canyon and at the front by the D117 highway which passes by their house.
Jean-Luc and Isabelle set about restoring the buildings to their former glory and also re-established the vineyards and converted them to natural treatments and stopped the use of artificial chemicals.
The shady terrace at the front of the restored house
The vineyards occupy the space between the walled farmhouse and winery and the Agly river.
Bush vines on the flats near the Agly river with bare, rocky mountains behind
The old bridge across the Agly River behind the vineyards
Jean-Luc and Isabelle make a variety of local specialty wines including still whites and reds, sparking wine made in the Pétillant Naturel style, the famous Muscat de Rivesaltes fortified white wine and a Rancio wine, a style that is so beloved in this region.
The wines are all produced from organic fruit which is allowed to ferment using the natural yeasts found in the vineyard. Nothing is added during the vinification process and most of the wines have no sulphur added.
They harvest a variety of grapes including Muscat a Petit Grains and Muscat d'Alexandrie, Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan.
The Rancio wines are made by exposing the wine to sunlight for an extended period and then aging the resultant wine in barrels. Here the wine is placed outside in glass demijohns during which time the wine turns a golden orange colour.
Rancio wine exposed to the sunlight on the terrace
Jean-Luc loves making wines in the Pétillant Naturel style and has rigged up an outdoor contraption for disgorging the wine to rid it of the dead yeasts that are the result of only having one, in-bottle, fermentation. He turns the bottles upside down and allows the dead yeasts to collect in the neck of the bottle as shown on the photo below.
Dead yeast in the neck of the Pet'Nat
When the crown seal is removed the plug of dead yeast is forcibly evicted from the bottle by the gas in the wine. Jean-Luc then tops the bottle up with the same base wine and reseals the bottle.
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Pet'Nat 2015
This Jolly Ferriol wine which is made in the Pétillant Naturel style and which goes by the name of Pet'Nat, is a beautifully savoury sparkling wine made from 100% Muscat, that white grape so beloved of the Languedoc and Roussillon. This one is a 50-50 blend of Muscat à Petit Grain and Muscat d'Alexandrie. The vines grow in schisty marl soils and the yield is very low at around 20 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes are picked by hand and then vinified naturally in vats for about three weeks. The wine is bottled before fermentation is complete to ensure that the wine is sparkling. The wine is disgorged after about 5 months in the bottle to clear the bottle of the lees which form, and is then topped up .
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Pet'Nat Rose 2015
This is an unusually delicious sparkling wine and doubly unusual because it is made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon - a grape that it not usually associated with the Roussillon. The wine was vinified in fibreglass vats and then bottled before fermentation finished. Fermentation continues in the bottles producing the natural bubbles. The yeast which collects in the bottle as sediment is disgorged leaving a clear, clean sparkling wine. This pet nat has a deep pink colour and a slight herbal bitterness on the finish. It is delightful as an aperitif but is also a very good accompaniment for food.
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Rose 2014
This year Jean-Luc has made the Jolly Ferriol rose from 100% Carignan grapes that were fermented and matured in steel tanks. The skins were removed after a short time in contact with the juice so that It therefore has the characteristic pink colour we ar eused to with his rosé wines - not too light and not too dark.
It has the trademark qualities of a Jolly Ferriol rosé, namely a haunting, compelling nose, great freshness, good acidity and great drinkability. There are aromas aplenty ranging from strawberries to cherries and there is even a hint of anise. This wine is perfect for summer drinking but can be savoured at any time of the year.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Néo 2014
The Jolly Ferriol Néo is a light, fresh, young red wine made using carbonic maceration to preserve the fruit flavours and the liveliness of the juice. It is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Carignan - two grape varieties that grow very well in the schisty marl that litters the vineyards nestled in the elbow of the Agly River.
This is a wine for knocking back slightly chilled in summer!
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Va Nu Pieds
Va Nu Pieds means “go barefoot” and conjurs up the image of summertime drinking at the beach or barefoot at a barbecue. It is a fresh, bright, lively wine. The grapes (Carignan and Grenache) have undergone carbonic maceration and the wine was then matured in old wooden barrels. The wine is then transferred to tanks to allow the sediment to settle before it is bottled without filtering or fining.
RRP: $35 for 2014, $36 for 2015
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France M.
This is an explosive white from Jolly Ferriol made entirely from the Muscat grape variety that is so beloved in Southern France. The majority Muscat à Petit Grains and the 10% of Muscat d'Alexandrie produce a powerful aroma that is always associated with Muscat. The wine has an intriguing minerality from the schist soils, and bright, clean flavours that finish with a hint of the bitterness that is usually associated with these grapes.
This wine has an umami quality that makes it a perfect match for Japanese food such as chawan mushi.
RRP: $39 for 2014, $40 for 2015
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Isadora 2012
This was the wine that first set us on the quest to bring Jolly Ferriol wines to Australia. This wine is made from 100% Macabeu and is aged for 2 years in old Burgundy barrels hence acquiring some oxidative qualities - in fact we think that the level of oxidation in this wine is the perfect amount to fully show off just how intense and exciting an oxidative wine can be.
A nose of yellow fruit and grilled almonds, balanced and mineral in the mouth with a beautiful freshness. The finish is intense and lightly spicy.
This wine is only 12% alcohol so can be drunk as an aperitif or can accompany a wide range of foods including anything with goats cheese, any seafood or, even better, some fatty charcuterie for which it is the perfect accompaniment.
We really lovel this gorgeous wine!
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Muscat de Rivesaltes 2008
Jean-Luc loves making the famous fortified Muscat de Rivesaltes and this is a particularly fine example. This wine is sweet and is made in the style called Vin Doux Naturel where the fermentation is stopped before all the sugar is converted by killing off the yeasts through the addition of grape spirit to the fermenting wine. It is made in about 90 communes across Roussillon which is the closest department to the Spanish border on the Mediterranean side of France. The only permitted grapes for this appellation are Muscat à Petits Grains and Muscat d'Alexandrie, but the combination of these two grapes provides a compelling complexity to the wine. By law this wine must be fortified and have a minimum alcohol content of 15% and must contain a minimum of 100 grams per litre of residual sugar.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Jolly Rouge 2013
This wine is made from Carignan (30%) and Grenache (70%) and is only 13% alcohol, unlike many wines from this warm area of France. The grapes grow on schisty marl soil and the yield is low at 25 hectolitres per hectare. It undergoes carbonic maceration in tanks for 15 days after which the wine is transferred to old barrels for a minimum of 18 months. The result is a light, thirst quenching wine that can be served slightly chilled in summer.
You will smell cherry notes when trying this wine. It has great mouth feel and the finish is very smooth with an almost Syrah-like spiciness on the finish.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France On Passe au Rouge
This wine is aptly named. On passe au rouge means "It turns red" from the blend of grapes Carignan (30%), Grenache (30%) and Syrah (40%) and is only 13% alcohol.
The grapes grow on schisty marl soil on the flat plains beside the Agly River that runs through the Roussillon area of southern France. Here the yield is low at 25 hectolitres per hectare, but this concentrates the fruit flavour as you can tell when you drink this delicious wine.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Côtes du Roussillon Villages Fait d'Hiver
This dry red wine is made from Carignan (25%), Grenache (25%) and Syrah (50%). The grapes grow on schisty marl soil and the yield is very low at 20 hectolitres per hectare. Naturally, the grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted before being carried in small cases to the chai. Jean-Luc describes the wines as having "a nose of cherries in kirsch, succulent and supple in the mouth with hints of violet, with a long and peppery finish". He recommends pairing it with slow cooked bean dish such as cassoulet. The wine spends 3 years in barrels prior to bottling.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Syrahre 2009
This dry red wine is made from 100% Syrah. The grapes grow on schisty marl soil and the yield is very low at 18 hectolitres per hectare. Jean-Luc describes this wine as "a fruity wine with a nose of cherries in kirsch, supple in the mouth and slightly tannic, a lively finish giving off the aroma of red berry fruit". The wine spends 2 years in old Burgundian barrels prior to bottling.
Jolly Ferriol Vin de Table Blablablanc 2012
This dry white wine is made from 70% Grenache Gris and 30% Macabeu. The grapes grow on schisty marl soil and the yield is low at 25 hectolitres per hectare. Jean-Luc describes this wine as having "A fine and mineral nose with notes of flintstone, clean and honest in the mouth, with hint of being lightly grilled. The finish is round and rich".
The soil gives this wine quite a pronounced minerality with hints of flint and schist. This wine can be drunk as an aperitif or to accompany seafood, charcuterie or cheese.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Jolly Ferriol Vin de France Au Fil du Temps
This dry oxidative wine is a real revelation! And it should be oxidative because after it is fermented in vats the wine is transferred to glass demi-johns and they are left outside on the terrace in the sunshine for six months. There is a strong nutty aroma that is a cross between hazelnuts and walnuts extending to the flavour which is true to the rancio style in which it was made. There is even a slight bitter almond flavour on the finish. This is a very complex wine.
After the demi-johns have completed their outdoor exile the wine is placed in barrels which contain some of the previous year's vintage to add even more complexity. We love this wine!
Jolly Ferriol Muscat de Rivesaltes Or du Temps
This is Jean-Luc's premium sweet wine!
Jean-Luc loves making the famous fortified Muscat de Rivesaltes and this is a particularly fine example. This wine is sweet and is made in the style called Vin Doux Naturel where the fermentation is stopped before all the sugar is converted by killing off the yeasts through the addition of grape spirit to the fermenting wine (this process is known as 'mutage').
It is made in about 90 communes across Roussillon which is the closest department to the Spanish border on the Mediterranean side of France. The only permitted grapes for this appellation are Muscat à Petits Grains and Muscat d'Alexandrie, but the combination of these two grapes provides a compelling complexity to the wine. By law this wine must be fortified and have a minimum alcohol content of 15% and must contain a minimum of 100 grams per litre of residual sugar.
The wine spends 36 months in old barrels that are stored in a cool, constant temperature cellar.