With a backgound in accountancy, Thierry Hasard came relatively late to winemaking, making his first wines in 1997. He farms 9 hectares of vines, on a dozen or so different plots near the village of Murviel Les Montpellier, a few kilometres west of Montpellier itself. Murviel is located on a hill, with views of the Mediterranean about ten kilometres away. Here, prehistoric men lived and the Romans built a temple and an oppidum, from which the name of the village originates: "mur viel", meaning "old wall".Thierry currently makes five wines - a white and four different reds.
We've had the opportunity to taste one or two older wines from La Marfée over the years (the top cuvées, Les Vignes Qu'On Abat and Les Champs Murmurés, both from the late 1990's) so I know how good they can be and how ageworthy they are. But having never tasted them young, I didn't really have any idea what to expect, when we first visited. But the young wines are, without exception, brilliant - there's no other word to describe them, in my humble opinion. I am completely bowled over by them. The white is up there with the very best I have tasted from Languedoc. And the reds all have one particular thing in common, whatever the blends or varieties - and that is a depth of fruit which I find hard to describe. The nearest descriptor I can think of is fruit pastilles (especially the red and black ones) with a rich, deep flavour, like ultra-ripe raspberries and blackcurrants and a curious (but compelling) hint of elderflowers - and always with a mouth-watering lick of acidity.
Thierry Hasard has been quoted as saying that he believes terroir is more important than grape variety. Whatever it may be down to (I think it is probably a blend of great terroir, top-notch viticulture and damn fine winemaking) there appears to be a clear style to these wines, and one that I find very easy to fall in love with.
It wasn't until later that I discovered that Domaine de La Marfée is biodynamic. Which I guess should not have come as a surprise. As I have said before, whatever you think of biodynamicism (extreme organics or just plain whacky) it is a philosophy which does tend to go hand-in-hand with a healthy respect for the land and a fastidious approach to winemaking. And when the wines are this good, you can't help but believe in it. I have also written a couple of in-depth entries on my Blog about Domaine de La Marfée - namely a much more in-depth commentary on Thierry Hasard's viticultural and winemaking philosophy, and a report from my visit to La Marfée in June 2011.