René-Jean Dard & François Ribo
René-Jean Dard and François Ribo were making natural wines long before they were fashionable. They make wines of exceptional quality and interfere as little as possible in the wine making process, but this is much harder than it sounds. As René-Jean says ‘Just because you didn’t do anything to the wine doesn’t mean it’s good’. In-fact making high quality natural wines is incredibly difficult and it’s a testament to their skill that they manage to achieve this.
René-Jean started making wine in 1975 when he inherited a small vineyard from his father. His father had made wine for his own consumption as a hobby rather than as a business. René-Jean started off using the same techniques as his father – no sulphite was used because he did not know what it was! He went on to study Oenology at college where he met Fraçois Ribo. They started making wine together in 1984 and on their first vintage used sulphite as they had learnt on their course, but they were unimpressed with the results. They perceived that the addition of sulphite had diminished their wines and decided not to use it again.
Dard & Ribo slowly moved towards being completely organic which is difficult given the climate and terrain of Crozes-Hermitage. Today there are still very few producers in this region who are producing natural wines. They aim to make wines that are ‘alive and in most cases they are for drinking young.