Pierre and Catherine BRETON, Restigné
Certified Organic by Ecocert, Certified Biodynamic by Demeter, natural
A husband-and-wife operation in the Loire Valley, the Bretons have recently celebrated their 30thvintage and have built their reputation on making pure Cabernet Francs from Bourgueil and Chinon using biodynamic viticulture and vinification.
The Breton philosophy stems, in their own words, from a love of the land. The vineyards see ultra-intense organic care, no mean feat in this northerly clime; they avoid chemical fertilisers and weed killers, restrict yields to something like 40-45 hl/ha (although some cuvées are below 35 hl/ha) and harvest by hand. The Bretons use indigenous yeasts and their desire for “natural” winemaking comes through strong in their resistance to the use of sulphites, with typically just 10 mg/l added at bottling to many cuvées, although some are bottled without any sulphites at all. And they are bottled unfiltered.
‘Vouvray Sec ‘la Dilettante’ 100% Chenin Blanc from 40 year old vines grown on sandy-silica-clay soils. As exponents of a ‘natural’ (i.e. minimal interventionist) winemaking philosophy, the Bretons aim get the healthiest grapes possible to the winery. From there, they allow the fermentation to start spontaneously, relying on natural yeasts only. Malo-lactic fermentation may or may not happen depending on the acidity levels of the wine itself and the ambient temperature of the winery. The wine is matured in 600l old oak demi-muids for 8 months and given a rough filtration off the gross lees by racking, with no fining (to remove proteins) and the addition of a mere 10mg/l of sulphur at bottling to stabilise.
“Catherine and Pierre Breton, leading producers in Bourgueil, also produce this fascinating dry(ish) Chenin Blanc, made by biodynamic methods. It has wonderful rich, luscious pineapple and peach fruits with plenty of life. At a mere 12% alcohol, it is light, yet juicy. Try it with scallops or prawns.’
John Wilson: IRISH TIMES Bottle of the Week & Best 100 wines of the Year