Archiv der Kategorie: New Ways

Winemaking from a different angle

Wine Crowdfunding – Visiting my Winery – Le Verdus @ St Cyprien-sur-Dourdou

Like at own risk:

After liking a Facebook page about rare grape varieties I was fed this link about a small young winery in Aveyron, France looking for crowd funding. Philippe Rousseau and Aline Solignac want to resurrect the old winemaking traditions of the St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou village close to Marcillac by founding their winery, Le Verdus.

They looked for the reasonable sum of €2500 with the aim of planting a new parcelle of Chenin Blanc (one of my favourite whites) and one I’ve not heard of before: Roussellou.

I decided to spend €100 which would give me six bottles of wine and a tour of the winery. Enough supporters were found and the aim was surpassed, 151% was collected.

The wines were supposed to be delivered in September and to save the winery the higher postage fees to Germany and to get my free tour of the winery it was decided to visit St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou in the Massif Central, on this years tour through France.

We did arrive one day earlier so we had some time to check out the neighbouring village of Conques, a quaint village set on a hillside retaining the mood of the middle ages and being officially one of the most beautiful villages of France.


Yes, it is quite hilly here. We did cycle here from St-Cyprien, which was ok on the way to Conques as it was going slightly downhill and the wind was blowing from behind…


A film location for a knight and damsel in distress movie anyone?

The Camping-ground in St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou is set between the sporting ground and the municipal outdoor swimming pool. It looks as if used to be part of the parking lot, the wash rooms are quite rudimentary and are shared with the sportlers.

But who can complain: €14.40 for the camper van, exlectricity, 2 persons, a shady levelled parcelle, own water supply included. Bakery and deli/butcher/grocery within 5 minutes walking distance.

St Cyprien sur Dourdou Camping Platz

Le Verdus lies slightly outside of St-Cyprien aon a hill. After first day reconnaisance tour with the bicycle we went there with the camper van to meet Philippe, who gave us the tour.

The terrain belongs to his partner’s family. The family were making a lot of wine before the Phylloxera-crisis but emigrated to Argentina where they made their fortune only to return to their origin and rebuild the family estate. It was decided: No more wine.

Instead cattle, wheat, fish were going to be the mainstay. The wine cellar was kept intact, built into the hillside to keep temperatures low and constant.

Verdus Cave

The building was built about 300 years ago, two storeyd. The bottom part is built into the hill, the top part has direct access to the vineyard via the backdoor. This is where the wine press was installed.

Verdus Pressoir

The pressed must can then be channeled down to the bottom floor using pipes and hoses without using any pumps.Verdus Cave

The wine is fermented here in the cooler bottom. The barrique barrels are used (5 seasons) and release no more oak aromas but enable a soft ripening. This room is also used to store the bottles and exudes all the charm of an old stone building.

Of course we got to see the newly planted vineyard too..

Verdus La Vigne

Two different Chenin Blanc clones were planted here, both of them originating from the Aveyron region. The Roussellou was planted using massal selection, collected by a specialist from old vines in the region.

Roussellou is the local name for St Côme, a white wine variety that Philippe got to know at a friend’s winery who has an experimental vineyard with lost vines of the region. After tasting some wines they both decided to go for this variety.

The grapes that eventually ended up in my wine are 70 year old Fer Servadou (90%) and Jurançon Noir (10%) from a rented vineyard in neighbouring Salles-la-Source. The vineyard can be used for Marcillac AOC but Philippe decided to go for a Vin de Pays de l’Aveyron for his first wine.

Philippe wants to plant a parcelle of red vines for Marcillac AOC wines but to conform with french law he has to show his ability to make a Marcillac wine first, thus the chances of him making a Marcillac in 2015 are quite high.

La Mitat

La Mitat in the local dialect: Half, Semi.

The vineyard is only half planted, the cellar is only half ready and the wine was made by Macération Semi-Carbonique.

Mitat is also used by traditional Aveyron dancers to call for another round of music if the musicians want to pack up. Hey guys, you’re too early to pack up, it’s just half time…


The wine is non-filtered, unfined. Indigenuous yeasts, no additives but a small amount of sulphur prior to bottling.

The nose: Beet root, violets, black currants, artificial raspberry.

Refreshing acidity with only light tannins on the palate. Joined by cassis some pepper and fermented cucumbers.

A perfect summer red which doesnt complain if served slightly cooler. 7€ at the winery.Ok, I did pay a bit more but that’s not what counts in crowd funding.

Savoie Wine Battle Gringet Sulphur vs Natural

One of those grape varieties that I have been looking for in Germany for a long time now is the Gringet. An almost extinct variety native to the French Alps that was thought be be a mutation of the Savagnin of Jura but which has been disproved by DNA testing. To my knowledge the only winery producinf Gringet Varietals is Domaine Belluard in Ayse, between Geneve and Chamonix.

Rebenversuchsanbau Domaine Méjane Gringet

Domaine Bellaurd adheres to biodynamic principles. 95% is plated with Gringet which is used both for still and sparkling wines. The rest is made upo from Altesse and Mondeuse.

When receiving the newsletter from Vins Vivants I had to take the opportunity and buy a couple of wines, two of which will be placed side by side today: Les Alpes and Pur Jus 100%, 2012 vintage.
They are basically the same wine, just the Pur Jus 100% has no added sulphites.

The Battle:

Les Alpes 2012:

Nice yellow in the glass. Interesting Nose: Apple, smoked bacon, deep fried parsley and cooked white beans.
Quite full with lively acidity, apple juice and cidre with a chalky mouthfeel, as if some tannins had somehow found their way into this bottle. Cidre and citrus aftertaste.
Later: Flowers, apples and cooked beans.
Even later: Yoghurt, wax, apple peel, honey, mirabelles.

The next day: Pork and apple, citrus and dried flowers aftertaste with a touch of chestnuts.

Pur Jus 100% 2012:
Slightly darker colour than the Les Alpes.
Hay, dried flowers, cidre, honey and mushrooms, pork with cooked white beans, lightest touch of Brett with goat aroma. Yoghurt and honey aftertaste.
Later: Apple, powdered stock, white flowers, plum.
Even later: Honey, apple, strong, almost artificial cherry- Appley, herby aftertaste.

The next day: Mint, liquorice, apple, citrus.

Both wines are fascinating, especially the pork and beans notes found in both wines have been a pleasant surprise. The Pur Jus 100% has been well and hygienically made. Even after a week open near the heating which I must admit I rarely use, no sign of volatile acidity. The diffrenece between both wines was great with a slightly higher complexity for the Pur Jus 100%, making it the winner of todays battle.

Serbian Wines Part 3 : 2011 Alma Mons, BeloBrdo

The unfortunately last but not least wine from   Samovino :

2011 Alma Mons, Winery Belo Brdo, Subregion Fruška Gora, Region Srem

This is a quite interesting blend of french varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and the new cross Marselan (Cabernet Sauvignon x Grenache Noir) which I have seen in some easy drinking reds from the Ardèche. Not a grape variety that I would have placed into the illustrious round of Bordeaux reds.

The owner, Aleksandar Zeremsk made his money importing wines to Serbia and planted his first grapes in 2006. The first wine made was from the 2010 vintage. The winery Belo Brdo translates as white hill, Alma Mons as nourishing hill. Maybe Alba Mons would have been better.


Poured into the glass: ripe black and blueberries. Cassis, plum followed by strawberry and grain yoghurt, milk chocolate, vanilla.

A good balance between body, tannins and acidity. Everything is up front but none is dominating the others. Plum fruit leather aftertaste.

Second day: Blackberry, plum and cherry constantly changing places. Oaky vanilla stronger than on day one.

Third day: Plum, Pepper. On the palate plum and strong cherry.

Fifth day: Watermelon, cassis, vanilla, blackberry. Still strong tannins. Tobacco and plum aftertaste.

This is already a brilliant wine but in the years to come one can expect even more due to aged vines.

2012 Klevener de Heiligenstein Nature, Domaine Rietsch

Alsaces most rare official grape variety is the Savagnin Rosé. It is only allowed in the region around Heiligenstein (42ha) where it has been grown since 1742. Its aromatic mutation, the famous Gewürztraminer can be found in all of Alsace. Both grape varieties are hard to distinguish, so they were at first interplanted but the Savagnin Rosé got banned because it lacked the desired aromas.

A completely atypical example of this grape is the Klevener de Heiligenstein Nature from Domaine Rietsch. Atypical because it has been vilified completely without adding sulphur and it has been left on the lees for ten months.

And it is an example of orange wine, a wine making technique that treats white grapes like red grapes. The crushed grapes are fermented before being pressed which gives more flavors, tannins and colour.

The winery is certified organic since 2008/2009. Part of their production is vilified in the style of <em>Vin Naturel</em>, i.e. without adding anything during vinification, no sulphur, no yeasts, no enzymes, no nothing.

Poured into the glass the expected light orange colour. Cider with cinnamon and pear juice.

The first sip shows juicy pear, fresh celeriac and mountain hay followed by a long bitter note. The slightly unnerving Cider note disappears, leaving cinnamon, pear, celery seed, hay. Light curry aftertaste- Later pear swaps with apricot. The next day hay comes to the foreground. Lightly oxidized, Madeira and raisins. The wine reminds me with its accentuated hay taste of the  „<a title=“Heugäuer“ href=““>Heugäuer</a>“ hay-soda from the german Allgäu region.

Bought this one at<a title=“Vins Vivants“ href=““>Vins Vivants</a> for€14.50.

Guide des vins en biodynamie 3e édition & Le Guide de l’Altervin

Every year the same wine guides for french wines try to help the french consumers to choose their wines. Structurally and contentwise quite similar are the „Le Guide des meuilleurs vins de France“, published by Frances influential wine magazine La Revue du vin de France and its direct competitor, Le Guide Bettane & Dessauve des vins de France, ironically published by the late publishers of the Le Guide des meuilleurs vins de France. Both publications concentrate on the wineries that they deem the best of France. Their new wines are noted and rated and the wineries introduced. That makes both books quite similar. New editions of the same books don’t have much new information to offer. Seldom new wineries. A more wine orientated view is shared by Le Guide Hachette des Vins, where smaller, unknown wineries have a chance of publication with maybe one or two good wines. Other publications have had difficulties entering this tight and conservative market, even big names like „Gault & Millau“ had to fly the white flag after a couplew of years. Thats why I like to see new wine guides with new concepts.

The Book : „Guide des vins en biodynamie“ edited by Évelyne Malnic, has seen its third edition. The concenpt is simple: The best wines from certified biodynamic wineries in France and the French-speaking part of Swiss. A new feature I have not seen before is an extensive oenological description of the wine, including grape variy, terroir, yields, age of vines, vine treatments and all other work that has been done in vineyard and cellar. Residual suagrs and free sulphur is given as well. 21 Somelliers from the Normandie have tasted 487 wines from 136 wineries and rated them as well. Some of the widely known wineries were Château Climens, Marcel Deiss, Domaine Leroy. The majoritiy of wineries were unknown to me.

Le Guide de l'Alter-Vin
The book „Le Guide de L’Alter-Vin, 133 vignerons hors du commun“ by Laurent Baraou & Monsieur Septime has been published in August 2012 but has not come to my attention till I saw it last november in a big book store in Lille. The book is seen as a collection of portraits of avantgarde winemakers. The Authors compare the winemakers to the young artists like Picasso, Manet, and Cézanne, who could not exhibit there work at the famous Paris Salon. Later the Salon lost its prestige and importance while the artists came to be famous and influential. A lot of members of the vin naturel movement are included. Others completely ignore the AOC regulations and bottle thier wines as Vin de France. But also Winemakers from unknown regions like Domaine Lelièvre from the Lorraine are included. To qualify as a wine guide both authors give a small description of their favourite wine from each winery.

Both books enliven the french wine book scene, i hope to see new editions in years to come.

2010 Melonix, J. Landron, Loire

A wine fairy tale:

Once upon a time there was a grape variety called Melon. She was forced to flee from her home in the Kingdom of Burgundy by the evil Chardonnay who from there would eventually conquer the world, a tale which will not be told today.

Homeless the poor Melon walked the lands until she finally found a place to settle down. This place was beside a broad and long river, just about to flow into the great sea. Finally she had found a new home where she fought battles against the Great Frost, where she prevailed and found appreciation. Almost three centuries passed and tales of her courage and strength reached far continents. But when these news reached the ears of Chardonnay, he sent out his spy masters to spread foul lies about Melon, defaming her as a coward.

Ashamed and broken Melon took into hiding where she was eventually discovered by the great magician Landron who consoled her and gave her a magic cape so that she would not be recognised as Melon any more, giving her a new Name, Melonix.

Well, the true story is simpler:

20 year old Melon de Bourgogne vines, organic vine growing, no added yeasts, no fining, no filtration, no added sulphur. A classic example of a Vin Naturel. Thats the reason this wine can only be sold as a Vin de France.

I bought this wine directly from Landron at the Fair of independent wine growers in Lille almost two years ago. Since then the bottle has been lying low in my cellar with temperatures going up in summer upto 20°C. The back label asks for storage under 14°C though…

Melonix Rücketikett
I was a bit nervous because of this when I finally decided to open the bottle. The cork turnded out to be a Nomacork-plastic cork. Pourde into the glass the fears were unfounded:
Typical vin naturel apple juice, cinnamon, oak cookies, light honey. No volatile acidity, no Brett. Strong acidity combined with full mouthfeel. Apple, raspberry, sage, liquorice on the palate. Unrefined dark sugar and pepper aftertaste. After warming in the glass the aromas evolve further:
Tarte Tatin, some caramel, buttered apples, followed by mangom sage, butter, honey. Later the herbs influence gets stronger. Sage gets company from oregano and mitsuba.

Definitely not a standard Muscadet, not really something I’d like to eat a seafood platter with. Rather have it with Poulet a la normande or on its own.