Rié and Hirofumi Shoji met whilst studying in Burgundy, where the couple spent years working with some of the region’s most interesting producers, including our own Frederic Cossard of Domaine de Chassorney. After several visits to the region, the two were lucky enough to find a remarkable vineyard high in the hills above the seaside town of Collioure. In Catalan, Pedres Blanques means ‘white rocks’ and the vineyard takes its name from an outcrop of granite which sits amongst the three and a half hectares of vines.
There is a palpable energy in this breathtakingly beautiful, remote place, where vines as old as fifty grow wild over a complex mix of granite and schist. At some 350 metres above sea level, this is one of the highest sites in the region and the elevation, along with stiff winds from the Mediterranean, lends great freshness to their wines.
Nearly all of the vines are Grenache Noir, though recently Hiromfumi and Rié have planted massale cuttings of various local varieties, given to them by the legendary Alain Castex. The Shoji’s work the vines organically and due to the landscape lack and lack of topsoil, nearly everything is done by hand. The ventilation and lack of rainfall allow them to eschew the use of copper completely, sulphur is used sparingly and that is it.
In the cellar their aim is simple to reveal the potential of this remarkable terroir. Grapes ferment with wild yeasts with no temperature control and the use of gravity throughout fermentation and elevage means that not even a pump is used at any stage. The wines are bottled unfiltered with no additions and the intelligent use of these age-old practices renders soulful wines of great balance, vibrancy and finesse.
Rié and Hirofumi Shoji, Pedres Blanques 2017
Mostly Grenache Noir from vines of 30-50 years of age planted over granite and schist between 250-300 metres above sea level. Grapes are fermented in whole bunches with wild yeasts and no temperature control in cuve for around a month. Afterwards, they are pressed by hand with an old vertical press and the juice is fed, by gravity, into old barrels where it rests until the following April. It is bottled by hand, unfiltered and without any additions. A startling first effort that exudes a quiet confidence and maturity, with silken texture and real nuance. Resolutely southern with its dark, spiced and sun- kissed fruit, yet the rocks, elevation and the Shoji’s gentle hand in the cellar result in a wine that’s lifted, perfumed and precise.