Husband and wife team Régis and Christine Pichon work 7.5 hectares of vines on the sloping hills surrounding the small village of Aspiran in the Hérault department in the Languedoc. The nearby Hérault River inspired them to name their estate Ribiera (meaning waterfront in Occitan).
They grow a range of grapes from Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache to Terette, Roussanne and Clairette. The 20 to 50-year-old vines are located at an altitude of 110 meters and planted on marl (clay-sandy limestone soil) and rolled pebbles. Their plots are called Combe Caude, Lussides, Lous Aspes, Le Causse, Mas de Noyer, Boussac. They are certified organic by Ecocert.
Christine and Régis ferment with naturally occurring yeast present on the grapes and in the cellar. Vinification occurs without added sulfites and with only small additions of SO2 at bottling. Each vineyard plot is vinified separately. The grapes are destemmed into vats for fermentation, where gentle pump overs are done. The wines are bottled during the waning moon. Around 22,000 bottles are produced each year.
Before making wine, Régis worked as a sommelier in one of the world’s great cellars at La Tour d’Argent in Paris and at the equally renowned wine shop Hediard, where he met his wife Christine. In 2005, Régis decided to move his family from the city to a tiny village and begin making wine. It wasn’t his background in the classics of Bordeaux or Burgundy that inspired him, but rather a bottle of Pierre Overnoy from Arbois in the Jura that opened his eyes to natural wine beauty. The wine was cleaner than he had thought a wine without sulfites could be and so much easier to drink than the extracted, conventional wines that he worked with daily as a sommelier. He knew that making wine rather than pouring it was his true path.