I had to find a new identity for the vineyard. Its original name came from the locality it is seated on but I found it rather austere to say the least, very martial… ‘Domaine de Camp-Redon‘… as it turns out, many Roman camps were located in the area and we were in the middle of one, precisely. I usually like History but the name was just too ugly, I had to change it.
Hence the start of a family-wide quest, looking for a suitable name. Yann, my eldest son, came up with the start of an idea, « Les Vallons » (« hills »). The domain is located on the foothills of Sainte-Baume mountain and is, incidentally, hilly.
« Les Vallons » wasn’t bad, but a bit short so something else would have to be added after that. That’s when I though about borrowing part of the old family property‘s name, which was called, since its inception (1532, a while ago!!!, a local heritage house in the Pourrières Valley); Mas de Beauvoisin. This house has, on its right side, a big pool (bassin) collecting water from a natural spring located somewhere on the Sainte Victoire mountain nearby. We used to drink straight from the fountain attached to that pool when we were younger.
The water is pure and fresh so my parents decided to attach the word Fontfresque to the original name. In old Provence vernacular, it means; cold fountain.
As years passed by, the Mas de Beauvoisin-Fontfresque name disappeared to become, once again, Mas de Beauvoisin. It was shorter… easier… Fontfresque being a rather difficult name to spell.
I was rather nostalgic about this specific word which was the perfect embodiment of this house and its fresh water fountain.
So I decided to repossess the name. Especially since a perched water table (no more than 20 meters under our feet) is located on vineyard grounds, while our neighbours had to dig about 150 meters to reach their natural water. Our very own water is pure and fresh. The Fontfresque name was, thus, perfectly suitable.
So… my son Yann and I re-christened the estate. It would be called:
Domaine Des Vallons de Fontfresque
You might argue that it’s still rather hard to spell! The name is indeed butchered by many and I must, most of the time, actually spell it letter by letter so it’s properly understood. But never mind, I love that name and I am taking responsibility for all pronunciation nightmares to come.
Our name found, the biggest challenge was to come. Saving those poor dying vines.
Winter 2006 was the moment when the vineyard was restructured… more than 50% of the vines were plucked off.
Unfortunetly, 7 out of 12 acres of vines could not be saved. The remaing 5 acres were pruned very short, only leaving vine stumps. It was heart-wrenching to see my vines like this but it was the only way to save them.
I waited, fearfully, for months, until Spring came. I was keeping an eye on the arrival of the first green leaves after such a drastic pruning and… here they came, at long last!!!
Every pruned vine eventually came back to life; alive, kicking and as strong as a vine can be, like a big thank you for the unexpected rescue.
I was overcome with joy. I would spend hours between rows, looking at each little individual vine, gazing lovingly telling them… I am here… we will make great wine… together…
Then came the weather anguish; a late frost should not occur as it would completely destroy all previous efforts and make it necessary to repeat the whole process the following year. Recently restructured vines should not be exposed to diseases as they don’t have enough strength to defend themselves, the summer drought should not happen… it should not… it should not…
A lucky star was shining bright that year… nothing prevented the successful Rebirth of the Domain.
To be continued… next week. À bientôt.
Please leave any comments you may have in the section below.
Adapted from the original French by Yann Sicamois.