In 2002, Sébastien Bobinet took about 2 hectares of vines left by his grandparents and then became the 8th generation of his family tending vines in the little hamlet of Beaulieu, just near Saumur, in the Loire Valley. As it is common in the Saumur appellation, those parcels were predominantly made of cabernet franc with a bit of chenin blanc. Located on the prestigious terroir of the slope of Saumur, on the South bank of the Loire, the soil is made of clay and limestone, and the “tuffe” (tufa) is omnipresent. Bobinet’s house and cellar (a long gallery going about 100 meters deep into the hill) are both “troglodyte” (underground structures), dug in the rock of the slope, allowing the wines aging in barrels to stay at a constant temperature of 12°C.
After his encounter with Anjou’s natural winemaker Olivier Cousin, Sébastien became determined to produce wines that expressed their wonderful terroir without using chemicals or intervening too much in the natural process. The estate was then converted to organic production in 2003, even if the certification (but not the practices) was abandoned in 2010 for ideological reasons concerning the insufficiency of rigorous controls from the certified institution and the lack of certification concerning the natural vinification process itself.
Other encounters also shaped Bobinet’s adventure: with Bernard Pontonnier for instance, who encouraged Sébastien to test carbonic macerations, which gave birth, among others, to the iconic cuvée Greta Carbo. In 2011, former professional dancer and figure of the Paris natural wine scene, Emeline Calvez joined the estate and Sébastien’s life. Together, they were able to extend the estate to 6 hectares of vines. After harvesting the grapes with a good maturity by handpicking, the fermentations of all wines start with the yeasts that are naturally present on the fruit because of the daily preservation of the ecosystem in the vineyard. This allows for a full expression of Saumur’s terroir, the wines being minerally charged and all showing a unique personality. The different methods used to vinify the wines also contribute to a great diversity within the cuvées: skin-maceration for Amatéüs Bobi, carbonic maceration for Greta Carbo and Rififi à Beaulieu (a blend of pineau d'aunis and côt /malbec), a combination of both kind of maceration for Ruben, and direct pressing of the grapes for the white wine Les Gruches.
Louis Chenu Père & Filles is a family winery in Savigny-les-Beaune (Burgundy) that has been working the vine and producing wine for five generations. The first parcels of vineyard were bought by Louis Chenu in 1914 and are today worked by his great grandson Louis Chenu with the help of his wife and daughters (Juliette and Caroline, who joined the estate 10 years ago). Aware of the importance of respecting the vineyard, the Chenu sisters are constantly striving to improve the quality of their wines and the vines are organically tended since 2006.
The pinot noir and chardonnay vines are all located in the Savigny-les-Beaune district of the Côte de Beaune. They produce Savigny-les-Beaune Premiers Crus such as “Les Hauts-Jarrons”, “Les Lavières” or “Aux Clous” wines, but also a very rare white Savigny-les-Beaune “Les Saucours” wine. The particularity of their white Savigny wine comes from the presence of about 10% of old stocks of the pinot blanc, which adds suppleness and balance to the chardonnay.
The Chenu family carries out all the work on the vine over the course of the seasons (pruning, burning the vine shoots, tillage, pulling back, trimming back, treatments and green harvesting), as well as the actual production of the wine (topping up, racking and fining). The harvest is done by hand and takes approximately a week. The winemaking process is traditional: the grapes are de-stemmed, crushed, cold-macerated for a few days then trodden down on a daily basis. The process of fermentation is carried out naturally at low temperatures. After a period of 2 weeks in vats, the wines are brought to the cellar and aged for over 18 months. Whenever possible, the red wines are not filtered. As for the white grapes, they are pressed immediately after being harvested and once the must has been purged, are stored in the cellar in barrels for the duration of the alcoholic fermentation process. They are filtered and bottled after a year.
In the heart of South West France, at equal distance between Bordeaux and Toulouse, lies the Domaine de Quissat where Anne Marie et Rémy Delouvrié are living since 1997. This organic farm’s main culture is the vine but it also has fig trees’ orchard (giving delicious jam!), cereals crops, a few olive trees and even a truffle grove. The 3.75 ha of vines were planted between 1998 and 2003 and are made of typical Southwest grape varieties such as merlot, tannat, cabernet franc, petit and gros manseng. The south facing limestone and clay hillside is perfect for vinegrowing and to give fully ripe grapes.
The little valley where the farm is located is already well engaged into organic agriculture and the estate is certified organic and has been tended organically since 2000. In order to express the nature of the terroir and the vines, the grapes are harvested manually, destemmed and left to ferment in stainless steel with their indigenous yeast for 2 or 3 weeks. Since their first vintage with no sulfites added in 2008, the estate always tries to vinify and age its wines with no addition of sulfur.
The cuvée “Cent pour Cent” (“100 pour 100” or 100%), a blend of 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc, is a wine in which the South West France typical rusticity is balanced by smooth and pure fruits due to the lacks of added chemicals.