The 2015 ‘Billes Noires’ is an intense wine with aromas of black olive, ripe red fruits and fragrant Provençal herbs on the nose with an impressive concentration of fruit and mineral freshness on the palate.
Domaine du Coulet has 11.1 hectares of vines. The vines are planted on steep south and south-east-facing terraces which are carved into the granite rock of Cornas. The ‘Billes Noires’ is made using fruit from the highest vineyards, where the vines are well ventilated and the topsoil is shallow. This forces the roots to penetrate deep into the granite rock, resulting in smaller yields and concentrated, powerful wines. The vines are on average 40 to 55 years old and were certified organic in 2001 and biodynamic in 2002. In 2012 Matthieu replaced vineyard machinery with mules, horses and manual labour and started to create green spaces around the vineyards to encourage a healthy environment for wildlife.
For the appellations of the Northern Rhône Valley, 2015 was a truly exceptional year, almost without precedent. After a mild, wet winter and particularly high temperatures in spring, summer brought a heatwave even hotter than 2003. Welcome rain arrived in abundance in mid-August, followed by glorious sunshine and a providential wind that guaranteed perfect ripening conditions.
The grapes were hand-harvested. Upon arrival at the gravity-fed winery, they were destemmed but not crushed. Fermentation took place in concrete, diamond-shaped tanks and lasted for two weeks. The wine was then aged for 24 months: the first 12 months in eight-year-old 500 and 600 litre demi-muids, followed by 12 months in a mixture of 20 hectolitre diamond-shaped concrete vats and six hectolitre egg-shaped concrete vats.
A seventh-generation vigneron, Matthieu Barret studied viticulture in Beaune and joined his grandfather in Cornas in 1997. After inheriting a parcel of vines from his grandfather, who used to sell grapes to the local co-operative, Matthieu built up his own domaine in Cornas. He immediately started working the vines organically and produced his first vintage in 2000.