Wines of time and place

Heliocentric means the belief that the Sun, and not Earth, is at the centre of the Universe, or Solar System. The Sun is the source of all energy on Earth. Once conceived by Ancient Greek Astronomers, the belief was controversial, even heretical, when developed in the Middle Ages. Now it’s accepted as fact. I’ve always looked for wines with a freshness that surprises, made by growers who try to do things a bit differently.

Heliocentric Wines reflects my passions for wine, for food, for all things organic, nature, good health and for simplicity.

I created the business in 2019 to make wine in the Ventoux region of Provence after nearly 20 years working as an agent and wine importer based in Tokyo. I’ve always worked with a range of artisanal, organic and natural wines from the south of France, in particular the Rhône Valley, and Spanish Catalonia, and have also enjoyed forays into organic and unusually refreshing wines from Australia and Germany. I continue to work with an inspiring group of producers all over France and Spain – see winegoeseast.com.

With Heliocentric, I’m continuing a collaboration with a local wine grower that I started as an importer in 2010. Like so many fantastic small growers, my collaborator sells much of his production to large negociants only for the wine to disappear into a huge production run. Yet the terroir is capable of supplying all the elements to make wine with fruit purity, freshness and great drinkability if it’s well managed, basically organic, and the wines made with a light touch and with minimal intervention.

I fell in love with this region on family camping holidays a long time ago and kept on re-visiting. I fell in love with wine as a way to explore the natural world and the world of food, to get to know, become involved with and support local farmers and their culture. For me, terroir means not only the soil, grape and climate but also the food and way of life.

Like many others my wine journey started with a wine course in my native London at WSET. At the beginning of the journey, I drank what I was told to drink by the curriculum, the reference books and the critics of the day. But I was always drawn back to the traditional styles of southern French wine, in particular those organically farmed and made by whole bunch fermentation. It was an era when wines started to taste uniform and styles became more bombastic (notably with less and less whole bunch fermtation in Appellations of this region). In response I turned more and more to drinking the natural wines I’d been importing for some years. But there’s often a risk with these wines of a different uniformity, a kind of similar glou-glou character, and loss of terroir expression which comes from an emphasis on the winemaking method (often a type of carbonic maceration). And so I come back again to a more classical style, with all the fruit typical of the terroir but the easy drinkability of the best natural wines. Where begins the inspiration for Heliocentric.

The wine fits and mirrors the lifestyle. We eat local and organic at home, doing a weekly shop at the wonderful farmer’s market at Velleron, at local fish markets and a fine local butcher who supplies only organic and sustainably reared meat. We shop at organic shops not only to buy food with probably more nutritional quality but also to support organic producers of food, household goods and toiletries. We drink wine every day to both learn and to enjoy, and try to balance the hedonism with a lot of walking and plenty of exercise.

Heliocentric is also the name of a favourite album by a favourite musician Paul Weller from 2000, which was arranged by Robert Kirby, Nick Drake’s collaborator in the early 1970’s. Something very organic blows through Kirby’s arrangements. 1970’s music flows through our lives like the same river twice, and keeps revealing new and old experiences.