Born and bred in South London, Fergus and his wife Vicky ran Hand Made Food in Blackheath for 21 years. In 2014, blown by a wind of change, Fergus and family arrived in the south of France.
The wine story started when Fergus met Thierry Forestier, Laurent Bagnol, Yves & Vincent Moulin and Olivier Pichon at Quilles de Joie, a natural wine festival in Souvignargues (Gard), France. None of them were represented in London so he took a suitcase full of their wines and did tastings all over London with several importers. And it all went from there...
In 2015 they lived on a domain outside of Montpellier as negociants and in return for that they got to make a small amount of their first vintage, ‘Press in the Vines’, a soft and easy drinking Cinsault.
In 2017 they produced 900 bottles of 'Gout Elles', a blend of Grenache and Carignan. The name means 'grappions' - the little bunches on the top of the vines which people usually leave behind during harvest. At that point in time they still didn’t have their our own vines, so Thierry Forestier kindly let them pick the grapes he had left from his vineyard.
Then in 2018, they had the very first harvest on their very own parcel two miles away from their cave. They produced ‘Echappez’ and we now have it - right here - right now...
Tell us about the 2018 Echappez we have just received
I now rent a parcel of Grenache, it is 0.3ha on limestone on a lovely slope. The vines are about 80 years old. Last year was our first harvest and it was fantastic, we've had a really lovely crop. We had two tons of lovely grapes and produced a total of 1200 bottles.
What is the meaning behind the name?
Echappez is the imperative of 'escape'. It basically means 'get out of here'. For us it was partly about escaping from London.
How are you enjoying your life in France?
It's cool, we like it. We've got two teenage boys and they are both pretty happy.
How did the 2019 harvest go so far?
This year in July we've had over 46 degrees for a couple of days. I am a complete beginner when it comes to winemaking and had treated the grapes a couple of days before. They got burned really badly, I was devastated. But there were loads of people in the same boat as me. The heat was terrible and as a result the sugar concentration was quite high, so the issue was the yeast converting all of it.
In total we've harvested one ton, with a really high sugar concentration. So what we did was we went and we picked some Grenache that was lower in sugar at the domaine Mas de la Font Ronde nearby. So this year we've got two cuvees: one which is made from our own super ripe Grenache, and the other one of the less ripe Grenache from the other vineyard. They are both interesting and hopefully by next spring I can put them together, that's the idea.
Which wines do you enjoy drinking besides your own?
'Aramonix' from Thierry Forestier is pretty much 'THE reference' for me.
So, is Thierry a really good friend of yours?
Yes, it wouldn't have been possible without him. He has helped us a great deal and whenever I have a problem, Thierry is the first person I ring. He has been very generous. I do try and make up for it with my cooking skills. For example, this year we will be doing the cooking at theQuilles de Joiefestival for the 4th year in a row. That is just such a lovely event and as we don't get paid for it, that is my opportunity to make up for all the favours that everyone has done for me. Normally there are a couple of chefs who come out from the UK, too. It's a great opportunity for them to understand how to drink all day but then still put in a good evening's work!
What can you tell us about your future plans?
We've got a couple of nice two-year-old barrels coming from Bourgogne. This year we are going to do some barrel aging, partly because there is still some sugar left in the Grenache we've harvested this year. That really needs to be left in a barrel over the winter in order for it to finish.
Now in stock
NEW 2018 Echappez - Grenache
"10 days of maceration carbonique, manually pressed in basket press - that’s why it has a really bright colour as it was lightly extracted. Aged in inox. We bottled it in May this year. It is a wine which has a potential to develop over time."
We can't wait to see where Ferg's journey takes him!
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