CHATEAU MARIS, MINERVOIS CRU LA LIVINIERE
Robert Eden, a bio-dynamic wine maker, has built the world’s first hemp cellar in South of France’s Languedoc region, where he now lives with his wife and four daughters. When he was in college, Robert brewed so much beer for his floor mates, they expelled him. His father shipped him with no plan to Australia where his interest in wine and vineyards began by simply pruning vines. After this he worked in vineyards in Italy and Spain before taking over Château Maris in 1996. His business partner is Kevin Parker who has set up one of the very few dedicated climate change research team and is one of the world’s largest climate change investors.
When the vineyard was purchased in Languedoc the initial yields were lower than expected. The soil was dead, due to the previous farmer’s overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so Robert looked at ways of rejuvenating it, using compost. Bio-dynamic preparations were added to one organic pile of compost and another was left alone. After a while the bio-dynamic one had far more living organisms in it. The decision was then made and Francois Bouchet, a specialist in bio-dynamic vineyards, helped Chateau Maris get started.
It was a business decision since the vines are now healthier and grow longer – and the quality of grapes is better. The entire estate is certified by both Demeter and Biodyvin. The fertilizer is compost made from local cow and sheep manure plus some horse manure. Yields are now 32 Hl/Ha on average and the entire estate is hand harvested. Chateau Maris is now a 79 acres Biodynamic and Organic Estate (certified by Demeter since 2008, Biodyvins since 2004, Ecocert since 2002 and NOP) divided into a multitude of small vineyards on the hillside above the village of La Liviniere, the firstCru of the Minervois, in the Languedoc region.
Château Maris also owns work horses. Each year some plots are ploughed that way. Barley, bulgur and mustard is grown between rows and re-ploughed into the soil, along with the organic compost, to enrich it and to avoid farming in mono-culture. Château Maris also continues to perfect methods specifically adapted to its land. The estate uses its very own recipes of teas/tisanes of nettles and chamomile combining lavender and many minerals.
Now, it’s not uncommon for consumers to query the extent to which a wine estate can be ‘completely’ organic. Surely, they ask, the organic commitment begins and ends in the vineyard? Well no – and especially not at Château Maris.
The main reason for constructing an environmentally-friendly building is that, as a farmer, climate change is a big enemy. The new 9000 ft² cellar now houses the wines from Chateau Maris. It is built to run environmentally efficiently – with zero carbon emission. It was constructed using hemp, lime and wood. Hemp is good for the soil while growing; it fights soil erosion, needs no pesticides or fertilisers and little water, and consumes co2. Only its straw was used for the bricks so the rest of the plant will be marketed for oils.
The wood is from certified managed forests which capture and store carbon. The hemp bricks also absorb Co2 during 20 to 25 years as the lime solidifies into limestone.
Utilizing only renewable raw materials, the cellar is a ‘vegetable’ building and completely recyclable. Our vines are connected to nature and so is our cellar.
Neither heating equipment nor air conditioners are needed, so the building functions without any energy consumption. Hemp bricks, unlike concrete or metal, are ‘alive’ and able to breathe. They maintain temperature and humidity at a constant level on their own, whereas most buildings ineffectively use fossil fuels to function.
A Wind Farm on site will ensure that the cellar has no carbon footprint, producing more energy than it consumes. We also collect rainwater and recycle used water.
This cellar may have a phenomenal effect on the taste of the bio-dynamic wine. It will be incredibly exciting to see how it evolves once it has lived in a ‘living, breathing’ cellar.
Château Maris also wants to encompass these beliefs into the land surrounding the cellar with an ethno-botanical garden surrounding the winery, with endemic plants, and a visitor centre (also made from hemp). The whole site will be open to the public.
The site of the cellar was chosen because of its good energy, nearby is a Visigoth chapel (which is being restored). Robert asked a dowser to investigate it and there was such a huge force that their hands were literally shaking when they came out of the chapel. The lay of the land also meant that the cellar could be pushed against a bank and covered with a grass roof that integrates perfectly into the existing landscape.
In the cellar, the wine is made using only natural yeasts found in the vineyard and bottled un-fined, un-filtered. The oxidation is limited as much as possible by keeping the wines with CO2 at constantly low temperature. The wine is racked the least amount of times and are all aged at the very least 12 months in oak barrels. The end product is a "never corrected", un-acidified, un-chaptalized wine. All the tanks, cone shaped wooden ones or large wide natural concrete or egg shaped concrete ones, were all specifically designed and sized for Chateau Maris by tank maker Nomblot. All Maris wines are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
But surely the idea of sustainability ends once the wine leaves the winery? Once again, no. Three of the Château Maris wine labels donate $1.50 from each bottle sold to the Jane Goodall Institute, Rainforest Foundation or International Polar Foundation. All these organisations are helping to stabilize climate change and Robert Eden is particularly passionate about preserving rainforests.
The vast majority of the production is bottled in ECOVA Ultra-Light 100% recycled glass weighing in at only 395g that are half a pound lighter than a regular Burgundy bottle. It’s also interesting to know that wine shipped from from the South of France to the East Coast produces much less carbon than wines trucked from the West Coast or shipped from most of the new world wine regions.
Finally, to market its production, Château Maris has chosen New York based Natural Selection Wines as its sole agent in the US based on its unique environmental ethos. Natural Selection, owned by Jacques Herviou, formerly of Appellation Wine and Spirits, Langdon-Shiverick Imports and Martin Scott Wines has offices in Brooklyn that are 100% wind powered, where all of the glass and paper used is recycled and the company is fully carbon compensated by Terra Pass. Natural Selection is also a paperless operation that sells “directly”, without a national importer in order to offer certified Biodynamic wines at affordable prices.
Consequently, when you purchase any of our wines, you are really getting great tasting wines that are produced and brought to you with minimal environmental impact, at the best price possible in the most ethical way possible.
Better for the Earth, Better for the Wine, Better for You.
Now available via Verity Partners: