Maison Advinam is owned by Anne Buiatti, whose farmhouse south of the city of Bordeaux, just outside the Graves appellation boundaries, has been converted to a very old-school winery. The property has no electricity, so all work in the winery is necessarily done by hand and foot, vinification and aging takes place in terra cotta amphorae (and sometimes old barrels), and there’s no no fining, filtration, or chemical additions used at all.
With two hectares in Bordeaux and two more to the southeast in Roussillon, Anne farms using biodynamic principles. She encourages biodiversity in and around the vineyard on both properties with carefully planted fruit trees and flowering bushes, beehives, and vegetable gardens.
Though not as well known outside of France, Paul Barre is an iconic figure in Bordeaux. Regarded as the godfather of biodynamics in the region, Barre had fully converted his small domaine in Fronsac to biodynamic viticulture by 1990, after having experimented with the preparations and processes for more than a decade. In the 1990s, while the rest of Bordeaux was ravenously expanding vineyard acreage and increasing yields, Barre actually reduced his domaine from 15 to 7 hectares, an area that he feels is both amenable to the environment and well-suited to the care and attention required for making great wine. Today, La Grave, and its tiny sister estate La Fleur Cailleau in Canon Fronsac, are mainly managed by Paul’s son Gabriel and Gabriel’s wife Edith. The biodynamic viticulture continues, along with the horse-plowed rows, small production, and hand-crafted quality.
Begun in 2008 by Pascale Choime and Laurence Alias, Closeries des Moussis is a micro-domaine in Arsac in the southern Médoc, a short drive from the vast and sprawling vineyards of Margaux and Cantenac. The two women farm about two hectares in Sénéjac near their winery, a small family house they converted to a chai. An additional hectare or so is farmed from tiny plots that they rent out on short-term contracts; some of those contracts can be as short as a single vintage, so there are occasional cuvées that are one-and-done affairs. Their production, including from the leased vineyards, has been 100% organic and biodynamic from the beginning, including manual plowing by their two Breton draft horses, Jumpa and Fée. Pascale hails from Cognac, where her family had long grown grapes for distillers. Prior to starting the domaine, she worked for years as the maître de chai at the Bordeaux-Blanquefort viticultural school. Laurence is an agricultural engineer by training and comes from the Duras, just west of Bordeaux, a region where the two sometimes source fruit.
One of a very few Bordeaux chateaux whose production is all certified organic and biodynamic, the Peybonhomme les Tours is grown from 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec. Fermentation by indigenous yeast, minimal SO2 use, unfined, lightly filtered. Fermentation in stainless, élevage for 12 months in mostly neutral oak.
Situated 30 km north of the city of Bordeaux, Château Moulin de Tricot is a tiny property established in the 19th Century by the ancestors of the current proprietor, Bruno Rey. The Rey family owns just shy of five (5) hectares of vineyards on a gravelly “croupe” (outcropping) in the commune of Arsac. Of the five hectares, 3.7 hectares are within the Margaux appellation and 1.2 hectares are classified as Haut-Médoc. The soils at Moulin de Tricot are a mix of sand and gravel sitting on a subsoil of clay and marl. The sandy gravel provides excellent drainage while the clay in the subsoil provides moisture to the vines deep roots. Local traditions are lovingly followed at Moulin de Tricot. Vineyards are cultivated without the use of chemical herbicides and are tightly spaced. The close spacing results in higher density per hectare (9500 plants/ha), but lower yield per vine, guaranteeing greater richness of polyphenols in the ripe grapes. Moulin de Tricot stands virtually alone as it continues to follow the classic style of Margaux: utilizing Cabernet Sauvignon as the dominant grape variety. Cabernet accounts for 75% of the vineyards, Merlot the remaining 25%. The vines average 35 years of age.
Owned by the Amoreau family since 1610, Château Le Puy overlooks the Dordogne valley on the same plateau as Saint-Emilion and Pommerol. The Château was originally built at the begining of the 17th century and later extended in 1832 by Barthélemy Amoreau. It’s common to find some sharpened flints between the vines as some parts were battlefields in times past.
Now on their 15th generation of winemakers, the methods used at Le Puy are reminiscent of those used in the 1940s, with great respect of the terroir. They work using biodynamic principles, no chemicals on the soil, low yields, no yeasting nor chaptalization, long aging and very low added sulfites. These practices then allow the Amoreau family to express the full character of the terroir and to produce incredible wines that will be able to age for decades.
The vineyards are planted to a number of red varieties, including Merlot (85%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%), Cabernet Franc (7%), along with a touch of Malbec and Carmenère. The soil type varies but is principally a mix of clay, silex and limestone, with very high acidity levels. The average age of the vines is 50 years and no synthetic treatments have ever been used at the estate, which is certified biodynamic. Harvest is manual, the grapes are entirely destemmed and the cuvaison is long, continuing for two to four weeks. Only indigenous yeast is utilized, no chapitalisation is done nor is SO2 used during the fermentation.
Situated 40 kilometers southeast of the city of Bordeaux, Château La Rame is among the oldest and most renowned properties in the Sainte Croix du Mont appellation. The 20 hectares of Château La Rame are set on a clay-limestone soil blessed with an exceptional substratum marked by a bed of fossilized oysters dating from the Tertiary era. The hillside vineyards overlook the Garonne River and face full south as they slope down towards the river. The vineyards are planted 75% to Semillon and 25% to Sauvignon Blanc with an average age of 50 years. It is from these vineyards that the Bordeaux Blanc Sec (Sauvignon) and the Sainte Croix du Mont “vin liquoreux” is produced. On the sandier soils of the property where the land slopes toward the river, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted and are used to produce a Bordeaux Rouge and Bordeaux Rosé. An additional six hectares are sited on a hillside around the neighboring village of Monprimblanc.
Jean-Luc Hubert and family make old school, soulful wines in the northern right bank of Bordeaux. Long time biodynamic farming, old vines, traditional cellar work (no added yeasts or enzymes), and subtle use of oak gives this young wine an earthy complexity and depth that is sadly lacking from today’s cookie-cutter, oaky, over-extracted Bordeaux. Certified organic and biodynamic. 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec grown on gravel and silt-based clay terroir. Spontaneous fermentation, aged 12 months in mostly neutral oak; unfined, coarsely filtered.
From the Pueyo family, owners of Château Belregard-Figeac, La Fleur Garderose comes from the family scion, Christophe. Since 2012, Christophe has begun to replace the small barrique in the cellar with neutral demi-muid and foudres, which he buys from the Austrian cooperage Stockinger. Christophe has also instilled a gentler and more natural approach than was the norm with his father and uncle. The results of these changes have been crystal-clear during our recent tastings. Today the wines exhibit a purity of fruit and vibrant energy that was not present in the past.
The 9 hectares Chateau Haut Segottes are all within the St. Emilion Grand Cru appellation, with vineyards planted 60% to Merlot, 35% to Cabernet Franc, and 5% to Cabernet Sauvignon. The position of the vineyards within the appellation is outstanding, with parcels found within the lieux-dits of Fortin (across from La Dominique and 300 meters from Cheval Blanc); Chauvin; and the highly regarded Plateau de Corbin. Production averages 45 hectoliters per hectare and 30,000 to 40,000 bottles per vintage. Meunier is a meticulous winegrower, with an impeccably organized and clean cave. The vineyards are tended with the utmost of care by Meunier and her long-serving trio of master “gardeners”. Her obsession with, and dedication to her vineyards, enables Haut Ségottes to produce exceptional quality year-in and year-out despite the vagaries of the weather.
Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Clos Petit-Corbin Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
“M-R” Vin de France
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