I don’t really remember where the suggestion came from. A friend of someone out on social media. WE were going to Bordeaux and (surprise) wanted to visit some wine producers – this one was, apparently, biodynamicist, into natural wines, and, good. Never heard of him though he has at times been imported to Scandinavia byt Rosforth & Rosforth, a bastion of ”natural wines” in Copenhagen. Whatever.
Intellectually, we were aware that a ‘chateau’ in Bordeaux could look just about like anything, but, we had just visited Pichon Longueville, Cordeillan Bages, and Suduiraut, and seen Cos d’Etournel from the outside so, we were perhaps still expecting some small towers and similar … However.
Arriving, we found a yellow house with red carpentry and a nice garden – special mention, a bottle of Roundup left on a gravel path, not really indicating biodynamicity, nor, really, bio at all, in any way. The house was very nice and well-kept, so, we were completely ready to accept it as a ‘chateau’. There was a non-descript gray shed attached.
A sprightly elderly gentleman appeared and informed us that the person we were looking for was his son, and that he would arrive shortly (we later learned that the gentleman in question was 90+, which was difficult to believe – he also had a girlfriend).
So, our host arrives. And it becomes clear that, after all, the yellow half-timbered house is, in fact, not the chateau, but, the shed is. He explains that he has taken over the vineyards from his father, who used to sell the grapes to a negociant, and he had immediately started the conversion to biodynamics. With a certain pride he explains that, the last year his father ran the vineyard, the yield was 65 hl/ha – the next, after he started the conversion process, it fell to 16.
He also explains that the bottle of Roundup is, in fact, his father’s. That there is a sort of discontinuity in how things are managed. (Meanwhile, the old gentleman rolls out a sort of mini-tractor lawn mower and starts mowing grass, keeping close to us, and appearing curious).
We were shown around the vineyard (mostly red, all the usual suspects expected in Bordeaux, but also including Malbec). He showed us the compost heap, various implements to vivify watery solutions and do the homeopathic remedies, the cow’s manure that had been matured in a cow’s horn and had to be kept in a double walled wooden box isolated with peat, a small glass jar of silica kept in a recess in the wall facing … East? Can’t remember. He showed us his barriques, all of a certain age – I asked him whether he used any new oak, to which he replied, “Do I look like I could afford new oak?” Well, no. I asked him also about keeping temperature in the shed. This got him close to laughing and he answered, Oh yes, in winter we keep 0 degree and in summer 25 … He had an old wine press and a cistern for collecting the wine must – an octogenarian lady friend of his had so far managed to fall down it twice, luckily without any great harm done to her.
So. On to tasting the wine, and of course I would not have discussed this wine maker if it had not been for the fact that it (Autrement 2011, Vin de France) was good. Not Chateau Margaux good, just – good.
Did not taste very much like Bordeaux, more like Cahors, perhaps because of the Malbec, perhaps because the Cahors I drink rarely are oaked to a notable degree. It had not been accepted as a Bordeaux by whoever accepts such things, because of a certain ”nail polish smell”, which had since disappeared completely.
How it will stand the test of time I know not, I have a bottle in my cellar, promise to tell you in a few years. If you are in any way interested in ‘natural’ wines, and if you are interested in seeing biodynamic stuff actually being used, maybe you should book in a visit at Ch Lamery. The owner speaks English, having had a career in hotel & restauration.
I have written about this producer on the Criteeq web site which is hereby recommended to your attention.
Respect de la Nature et du Terroir – Biodynamie-Vin Naturel
2 route de Gaillard
33490 SAINT PIERRE D’AURILLAC