In 1997, sommelier and restauranteur Hervé Bizeul returned to his birthplace, the Roussillon, to "know the reality of daily life in the vineyard." Even though he claims to have had no great winemaking ambitions, he soon had international attention lavished upon him and his modest upstart winery, Domaine du Clos des Fées. Seven years later, he started the Walden project, which is essentially a fair-trade collaboration with the region's small family winegrowers. Walden, which honors Henry David Thoreau's seminal work of the same name, espouses the values discussed in that book, most notably the belief that one's life is elevated by conscious endeavor and a reverence for nature.
Roussillon has more old-vine stock than anywhere else in France. Walden's secret is concentrated, intensely flavored fruit from these ancient vines coupled with modern winemaking techniques that preserve the fruit while mitigating tannins.The 2007 Walden, the group's fourth vintage, is comprised of fruit from nine different small growers. A blend of equal parts Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, along with a touch of Mourvedre, it offers bright aromas of black cherry, salted plum, mocha and wild herbs. On the palate, juicy red and blue fruit flavors are highlighted by notes of milk chocolate, black licorice, tarragon, smoke and a delightful saline minerality.