France Crispeels was our most gracious host for two days in Cassagne, a tiny hillside village the likes of which there are dozens scattered throughout the French Catalan coast. We know this because France frantically drove us through a good number of them in the fierce tramontane wind and mist to show us her four quite separate and different vineyards.
Perhaps the most striking is the vineyard she calls Climax, which in the biological sense is the point at which all elements of an ecosystem are in perfect harmony. She initially started with just half of the vineyard, which is planted to grenache and carignan. She bought the second half when it came up for sale to prevent another buyer from potentially poisoning her half by spraying chemicals. The newer half is in various states of conversion to organic, which will take another few years to complete. When all is done, there will be a good amount of grenache gris and syrah to complement the already productive vines. She gets a little bit of help working the soil between the vines from the wild pigs that live in the forest surrounding the vineyard. The isolation from any directly adjacent vineyard, and the majestic view of the vineyards that spill into the Agly Valley, inspire a special feeling that borders on the mystical.
In the couple of days we got to know her, we found France to be incredibly generous, limitlessly energetic, and full of spirit. Her wines might be described in much the same way.