Pascal Carole

Pascal Carole is originally from the French Caribbean island of Martinique but hopped around most of his life with long stays in Canada and the United States. After several years of tinkering with fermentation but doing unrelated work, Pascal was introduced to wine making and wine makers through a class at San Francisco’s Ruby Wine. Not long after, he got to pick some grapes and make a little Chardonnay. That experience compelled him to change careers and spend a year working with Brent Mayeaux before moving with his family to Saumur to start his own project.

The 2022 vintage was made in a troglodyte cave but the operation has since moved to Pascal‘s garage winery on an island in the middle of the Loire river. Everything is currently made with purchased Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc from local growers who farm organically at the very least. As much as possible, wines are made from the same parcels year over year.

Only 2,100 bottles were made in the first vintage—a number which has now grown to 3,400 bottles a year. The small production allows Pascal to exercise a great deal of care while also trying to make wine as fearlessly as possible.

Guillaume Noire

Guillaume Noire started to make wine in 2017 after a successful career in advertising. He and his wife met in high school – in the Paris suburbs — and after careers and educations spent in Paris itself, started to become interested in eating organically and becoming more attuned to where their products came from, as well as life beyond the city. When his business partner decided to take a break from advertising work, it was a natural turning point for Guillaume to reassess a change in career and location. He enrolled at the BPREA in Beaune and went on to work with Stephane Rocher at the Ferme de Mont Benault before he and his wife settled in Rablay-sur-Layon where he acquired vines between Rablay and Champ-sur-Layon.

Noire’s wines are characterized by their sincerity – by his desire to show “elemental” expressions of the grapes with minimal intervention. And so, it is unsurprising that his collection of natural wines that he vinifies at his home in Anjou is called Eléments.

The idea of the collection is to represent the varietals like our basic elements on the periodic table. The wines are natural, organic and all made by hand. Because Noire is largely self-taught and came to winemaking later in life, he brings a rigorous and open spirit to his winemaking, learning from his peers and neighbors. He is part of a cohort in Anjou who share, discuss, and collaborate in their efforts to make well-made, balanced, fresh, natural wines in the Loire Valley.

Mas Guallar

About Mas Guallar direct from the winemaker, Camila Opazo:

“At the age of 18, I left my country, Chile, to join my brother in Bordeaux. In 2007, wine was totally unknown to me. After learning French, I decided to do a very revealing internship. I was lucky enough to have my first taste of the wine world at a Grand Cru in Pessac Léognan: full of discoveries, surrounded by passionate people and good wines. After my studies in France, I enrolled in the Master of Oenology in Fermented Beverages specializing in the science and technology of sparkling wines in Tarragona (Spain). I’m rediscovering the vine as well as organic and biodynamic agriculture. I felt totally at home, beginning to articulate my project and give it real meaning. Once university was over, I set off to discover vineyards, new techniques and different ways of working with vines and wine. For three intense years, I worked in the Conchagua Valley (Chile), Tarragona (Spain), Limoux (France), Marlbourough (New Zealand) and in the Hérault region. Fate brought me to the Pyrénées Orientales in 2019. That same year, I decided to set up my own winery in Tautavel. The terroir, the living environment, the potential and above all the wines made the decision a very quick one.

Our philosophy – Production of natural, artisanal wines to maintain intimate contact with the wine, parcel wines to express compare the two extreme terroirs of the amphitheater: the small Corbières and the beginning of the Pyrenees. Vinification techniques that evolve according to grape and year, vinification in barrels and ageing in old aging in old oak barrels to allow evolution and stabilization without resorting to chemical or aggressive processes. Slight sulfiting at bottling if necessary. Each bottle is a small gallery in which to show my paintings inspired by wine and, above all, the vine.”

Mas Guallar was originally built in 1968 and consisted of 50ha of vines that produced for the local co-op. Those vines were ripped up and Camila has taken over the house, cellar, and surrounding 2.5ha of land. Her 5ha of vines are split between 1.7ha in Maury and 3.3ha in Banyuls-sur-Mer. The land around the house will be used for experimenting with different plantings in years to come. The two vineyards both have very few neighboring vines, plenty of scrubland around, and a nearby water source. Camila has plans to take advantage of this to reintroduce biodiversity around her vines. In Maury: a vegetation cover has been planted to provide nutrients for the in-conversion vines; the soil is cultivated using a rototiller, a pickaxe and a brushcutter for grass control if necessary. In Banyuls: the soil is not worked, spontaneous plant cover is controlled with pickaxe and brushcutter as necessary.

More information here

Les Terres Dubien

Les Terres Dubien is a small estate started in 2020 with 3 ha of vineyards in the municipalities of Saint-Yzans-du-Médoc, Couquèques and Lesparre in the Médocaine peninsula north of Bordeaux. Benoit, the winemaker of Terres Dubien, naturally embarked on organic and biodynamic cultivation, searching for expression of the terroir of each plot.

The alternation of tillage and the different plant cover is set up according to each plot. The majority of the plants used for infusions, to be sprayed in the vineyards in addition to copper and sulfur, are picked directly on the estate or close-by in Médoc. The harvest is manual with the help of lots of friends, to give a little extra soul to the wines.

Vinifications are made naturally with native yeasts and gentle extractions, and if possible without the use of a wine pump. The goal is a search for fruit and finesse. Aging is 8 to 18 months in vats and old barrels depending on the cuvées that are parcelled. Bottings are made without fining or filtration with a total SO2 between 0 and 30 mg/L depending on the vintage. The estate also includes collaborative projects with winemakers outside the Médoc.

Les Cortis

Founded in 2016 by Isabelle and Jérémy Decoster, Domaine des Cortis covers 6 hectares in Bugey, just outside the village of Belley, west of the Massif des Bauges, at the crossroads of the Jura, Savoie and Burgundy regions. The domain favors co-plantation, their vineyards teeming with the life of their soil to produce healthy grapes.

Cultivated according to biodynamic practices, chardonnay, altesse, gamay, mondeuse, pinot noir, chasselas and corbeau are grown in five clay-limestone parcels.  The duo relies on natural fermentations, so as to bear witness as sensitively as possible to the vintage. Simple vinification, with whole-cluster maceration, ageing in vats on fine lees, and above all, no inputs other than a tiny dose of sulfur at bottling when necessary.
The wines are clean with salt and tension, with ripeness in the whites for tension and minerality, and freshness in the reds.
Fifi Selects
Featured Image credited to Raisin

Les Jardins de la Martinière

The former property of Xavier Caillard, the famed Anjou Chenin and Cabernet Franc producer has been brought back to life by a Japanese transplant, Kaya Tsutsui with some help from our old friend Hirotake Ooka. They are looking to continue Xavier’s tradition of long elevage, though it’s hard to come straight out with 15 year old wines, so they are releasing some younger and beginning the long aging process on newer wines. The property is stunning, with 3 hectares of vibrant vineyards around an ancient house with deep tuffeau caves.

Featured image copyright Sam Harris 2022

Léah Anglès

Léah Anglès made her first wine in 2018 while she was working at Domaine de la Coume. Her own domaine was created in 2022. She works 5.5 hectares of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan (on average around 80 years old) all by hand on the steep slopes of Collioure.

Jean Louis Tribouley

The estate was created in 2002 (alongside Yoyo) on 10.5 hectares of vines in Latour de France. 11 hectares of vines aged between 20 and 60 years / 3 ha of carignan, 4 ha of grenache, 1.5 ha of syrah, 1.5 ha of macabeu, 1 ha of grenache gris.
Arid, very stony terroir, often shallow, composed of one-third schist and two-thirds gneiss mixed with granitic arenes.
The estate is certified by ECOCERT as an Organic Farm.

Sometimes grapes are destemmed sometimes not, vatting without pumping over, and maceration for 8 to 20 days, depending on the cuvée. Malolactic fermentation is sought for both reds and whites. The reds are vinified in stainless steel, resin or concrete vats, the whites ferment in old barrels. Bottling is carried out on the estate using collective equipment.

Fifi Selects

Julien Altaber

Les Dolomies

Les Dolomies is the story of Céline and Steve Gormally, who set up in 2008 with the acquisition of a 1.44-hectare vineyard plot, “Les Combes”, in Passenans, Jura. At the time, Céline was also working in other vineyards. In 2010, she set up her own winery, with a total surface area of 3.65 hectares located in the villages of Passenans, where the winery is located, and Frontenay.

Les Dolomies’ focus is on ouillé style wines, all super fresh and mineral, bottled unfined and unfiltered and each expressing the individual terroir they come from. They left the Côtes-du-Jura AOC in 2016 so they could embrace more freedom in their winemaking.  “‘Ouillé’ is a technical term meaning ‘topped up‘, and is important to distinguish it from the traditional Jura Savagnins made with exposure to air.

Trousseau, Ploussard, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Savagnin can express their full potential on marl soil.

To enhance this wealth of grape varieties, Céline and Steve Gormally insist on using no synthetic products in their vineyards. When it comes to treatment, they use biodynamic methods and all the preparations that go with them: Use of horn dung in autumn and spring, use of horn silica during the growing season, herbal tea mixed with organic goat’s milk to reduce doses of copper and sulfur.

In the cellar, it’s the same battle: a minimum of intervention for the most natural juices possible, to obtain an authentic, natural wine. No inputs are tolerated, apart from a little sulfur when necessary for wine stability, but overall the wines are free of added sulfites. Yeasts are natural, and filtration is avoided before bottling. Certified organic.

–Fifi Selects–

Dominqiue Derain

Dominique Derain started his career making wine barrels before studying winemaking in Beaune.
In 1988 he and his wife purchased 5.5 hectares of vineyards in Saint-Aubin just south of Beaune and began tending the vines biodynamically. The vines are located around the hill of Montrachet and in the combe de Saint-Aubin. Manure, silica and other plant-based preparations are used. The Saint-Aubin appellation is one of the hidden secrets of Burgundy because the vineyards border those of the premier crus of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. The wines are certified biodynamic by Ecocert and have been certified since 1989.

Julien Altaber, (Dominique Derain‘s faithful right-hand man since 2002) and Carole Schwab of Domaine Sextant took over the “fermage” (rental) of the plots for him. Dominique is still intimately involved in the cellar and vineyard when he isn’t traveling abroad working on collaborative cuvées. Wines typically see stainless, concrete or fiberglass tanks before racking and aging in old oak. All wines have only one racking before bottling.

–Fifi Selects–

Coeur de Cuivre

Julia Marti established Coeur de Cuivre in 2018 with the goal of creating modern Languedoc spirits with ancient methods and tools. She makes her own spirits in Vauvert as well as providing distillation for locals, professional and hobbyist alike. She uses two 500 liter wood-fired copper stills that date back to 1901 and 1906. She is a signatory on the Natural Booze Manifesto and a founding member of the Alambic Association — Union of Independent Distillers.

Domaine Leonine

Stéphane and Caroline Morin’s 12-hectare estate, created in 2005, is located on the foothills of the Albères in Saint-André (Pyrénées-Orientale). The estate’s philosophy is to make wines that are close to the terroir, easy to digest, with as little intervention as possible between the grape and the glass. All of their cuvées are produced organically, biodynamically, and without any added sulfur.

Domaine Ledogar

The vineyards extend over 22 hectares in the Boutenac terroir near Carcassonne, around the village of Ferrals-les-Corbières. Xavier Ledogar has run this 22-hectare estate since 1997 changing the vineyard name from Domaine Grand Lauze to Domaine Ledogar.

One of the first changes Xavier made to the family estate, of which he was a fourth-generation custodian, was to stop selling grapes to the local cooperative and use them instead to make wines himself. Xavier was joined by his brother Mathieu in 2004 and they quickly converted the vineyards to respect biodynamic principles. Domaine Ledogar was certified organic by Ecocert in 2006. A third brother, Benoit, now joins them as they continue to produce exceptional BTG options for restaurants and cafés around the world, as well as AOC Corbières Boutenac cuvées and a spectacular Carignan Blanc.

A Fifi Selects wine

Clos des Mourres

Ingrid & Jean-Philippe Bouchet cultivate vines on 5-hectares in Cairanne, oriented on the northwestern slope of the Col du Débat. A natural drainage of the vines occurs thanks to the direct exposure to the Mistral wind. The plots are located between 200 and 280 meters above sea level, on mainly clay-limestone soils.

They also work 10 hectares of vines around their farm which were added in Vaison la Romaine in 2012. The soil is mainly sandy in Vaison la Romaine, and allows for the production of wines with a different structure than the wines of Cairanne. Bottling is done according to the lunar calendar.

(Fifi Selects)

Domaine La Ferme des Magesses

We are pleased to introduce the wines of polycultural farmer and natural vigneron from Gard, Thomas Bouet to the states. Thomas and his wines come from Sanilhac, just a 20-minute drive South of Uzès, where Thomas’s family roots date back to the 17th century. In 2018 he took over the family land and now operates on 5ha of vines (plus an additional 3ha that he tends to collaboratively with Ad Vinum’s Sébastien Chatillon) and a tiny cellar on his family’s farmhouse property. Here he also produces olive oil, sunflower oil, peach nectar, apple juice, grape juice, strawberries, almonds and einkorn. Thomas has been making natural wine since 2016 using organic grapes he bought on the vine, but 2019 was his first official commercial vintage. With all of his cuvées he practices manual harvesting, indigenous yeasts, no sulphite addition or targeted sulphiting, and uses an old vertical hydraulic press.

L’Atelier Bouilleur

Martial Berthaud, Theresa Bullmann, and Matthieu Collin are the current faces of cooperative distillery L’Atelier Bouilleur. Martial and his fellow spirit experimenter Quentin LeCleac’h founded L’Atelier Bouilleur in 2014 when they took over the local coop making Fine Faugères from local juice. The distillery was built in the early 1900’s and has been operational for over 80 years (there was a brief break in production from ’86-’99). The distillery uses Charentais stills, some of which have been used since 1927. The spirits use no chemical or animal-based additives and are filtered by gravity. There are 57 foraged botanicals used. The spirits are not labeled organic – the team feels that the standards of the EU do not match their own and choose to not partake in the bureaucratic systems of organic certification.

 

Martial and Theresa, in collaboration with Alcools Vivant and Distillerie Baptiste, created the Natural Booze Manifesto in 2018.

The Single Apple Company

The Single Apple Company was created in 2016 with the idea of creating a modern vision of Calvados. Established in 2016, the Saint James based distiller has a goal of creating single variety calvados. With over 200 apples within the AOC, the options are seemingly endless. Currently the single varieties are maturing, in the meantime they are making a more traditional spirit with multiple apple varieties, a gin made from apple brandy, and special project eau de vies.

More information here

La Bascule

A négoce project from Stephen Moran, proprietor of Domaine Leonine in Roussillon to collaborate on a series of wines that share a similar style to Domaine Leonine.

Domaine Padié

Originally from Burgundy, Jean-Phillipe Padié headed south to study agronomy in Montpellier. After stints working for Mas Amiel and Gerard Gauby he didn’t stray far and established his own winery in Calce in 2003. Since then he has expanded his holdings to 18 ha spread out over 30 micro-plots that he works with a team of two others. Carignan, Grenache in all three colors, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Macabeu are farmed using agrobiology and biodynamic practices.

Domaine Mont de Marie

Thierry Forestier has been farming his land in the small village of Souvignargues since 2004, when he left his 9-5 in Montpellier and put together 5ha of old vines. He made wines typical of the region (intense extractions, lots of oak) for many years until 2017 when he met Eric Pfifferling of Domaine L’Anglore, who was searching for fruit to purchase after an especially low-yielding vintage. Thierry was able to see what his grapes could do with a lighter touch in the winery and never looked back. He is now a resource for young growers looking to make low-intervention wine in the Gard, lending a hand in the vineyard and helping source grapes.

Thierry has expanded his domaine to 12ha of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Viognier, and Aramon. The vineyards are full of boxwood trees and underneath the is a mix of granite, clay, and sandy soils.

Domaine de la Mer Blanche

Childhood friends Tarek Laktaf (the mixologist) and Frédéric Bey (the farmer) came together to create the first Catalan Limoncello. The varieties of citrus trees were planted in 2016 and cohabit one hectare of land in Argelès-Sur-Mer, a region that reaches from the sea to the French-Spanish border. Lemon, orange, pomelo, yuzu, and kumquats are farmed organically with a focus on agroforestry to protect the wind-sensitive trees.

The fruits are harvested from September to December, only fruit from the farm is used to produce the line of cellos. All the zesting is done by hand and the peels are immediately put into vats to macerate, maintaining freshness you would lose in cold storage. The peels are macerated in alcohol for around a month and unrefined cane sugar syrup is added to finish.

Mas Mellet

Emilie and Brice Bolognini started their wine adventure together 20 years ago when they purchased a significant 27 hectares of abandoned vines. Since their first vintage in 2003, they’ve slowed their production cutting back to 15 ha, converted to biodynamic agriculture, and have planted hundreds of trees around the estate, including mimosa, pomegranate, olive, and fig. All of their work in the vines are done manually with the help of sheep during the winter, and intervention in the cellar is kept low utilizing indigenous yeasts, low inputs, and only minimal sulphites at bottling.

Emilie and Brice’s aim was to build new respect for the soil, raw materials, the environment, and biodiversity, resulting in wines that are full of character and freshness, and demonstrate the highest integrity of the Costières de Nîmes and its neighboring Mediterranean Sea.

Les Foulards Rouges

Jean-François Nicq of Les Foulards Rouges spent 12 years working in Côtes du Rhône, before settling in the Rousillion village of Montesquieu-les-Albères in 2001. With a degree in geology and oenology, followed by an introduction to the burgeoning natural wine movement by friends Thierry Puzelat, Marcel Lapierre and company, Jean-François found himself purchasing 9 ha of vines with the aim to produce clean and highly drinkable wines. Just six miles from the Mediterranean Sea and three miles from the Spanish border, Jean-François’s (now) 20 ha of vines rest on the French side of the historical Catalogne, with the Pyrénées mountains in close view. 

His vineyards are composed of multiple plots. On the lower, flatter part are mostly decomposed sandier soil producing his lighter, easy-to-drink cuveés. On the hillside, about 100 meters up, are his isolated single plots: Frida, Les Vilains, Les Glaneurs, Grenache, which lie directly on the bedrock with barely any topsoil and show more density. The soils are lightly worked with the help of his sweet mule, Uma, and in the cellar Jean-François keeps things simple and precise. As a result, his wines are a rare expression of this region, always able to retain so much freshness without compromising complexity. 

Tailleurs Cueilleurs

Chloé Bey and Jordan d’Osualdo met at harvest for Bruno Schueller 2018 and established Tailleurs Cuilliers (meaning: pruners pickers) with their first harvest in 2021. They moved to Bugey looking for a cool climate home base and were  able to purchase small plots around the village of Saint-Jean-le Vieux on the north side of Bugey. They are focused on the ideas of non-action and wild agriculture and hope to bring these ideas through to the finished product.  They are working 3 plots, 4ha total: Varey, Poncieux, Dalivoy. They are farming Gamay, Mondeuse, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. The farming uses organic and biodynamic practices, agroforestry is a part of their long term plan (planting fruit trees, starting with 21 trees in 2022). No sulfur, unfiltered, all wines are aged in demi-muids, old oak or acacia for 9 months.

Yoyo

photo: Vinatura

Laurence Manya Krief, known to most as Yoyo, has 5 hectares of old vines in Banyuls-sur-Mer delicately nestled between the mountains and the sea. After a brief career in the textiles industry in Paris, Yoyo began yearning for more connection with her work and wanted to free herself from what she described as an often “materialistic” environment. So she moved to the Banyuls, just miles near her hometown of Perpignan and purchased small plots of abandoned vines overlooking the Mediterranean ocean. By 2008 she converted her vines (primarily comprised of grenache and carignan) to be completely organic, and now maintains the steep slopes entirely by hand, horse, or mule (Uma). Yoyo’s aim to encapsulate the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, the salty breeze of the ocean, and the magic of the black schist soil, is perhaps why her wines are known to be some of the most elegant and poised of the beloved Banyuls.

 

No Control

Natural vigneron and punk rock enthusiast Vincent Marie started No Control in 2013 after turning his love and passion for natural wine into dedicated practice. With roughly 5 hectares located in Auvergne’s volvic of Puy-de-Dôme, the terroir is characterized by a diverse range of soils of ancient and recent volcanic origin, giving the wines a deep and unique mineral quality. His intention to produce deeply territorial and expressive wines is reinforced by his love for the environment and ecosystem, as far as being vinified according to a rigorous natural wine ethos and seeing no added SO2 whatsoever. Vincent

More info on No Control can be found here.

 

 

Philippe Pibarot

Philippe Pibarot resides and makes wine on the outskirts of the village of Mus, a couple of miles south of Nîmes in the northern part of Languedoc. Philippe’s first vintage was in 2001, and today he cultivates nine hectares of vineyard with the help of his father. Philippe became a guru for young winemakers starting to convert to organic and biodynamic viticulture. The wines are made to be natural and accessible: delicious juice. He harvests only the most perfect bunches to make his flawless and outstanding cuvées.

Obora

Angela Quiblier and Hugo Foizel met while studying oenology at Dijon. After working together at Domaine des Jeunes Pousses, they came together to create the winery Obora, based in Chenas, Beaujolais,

Hugo was born in Aube, Champagne, in the heart of the Côte des Bar. He passed the Advanced Vocational Diploma (BTS) in viticulture oenology through an apprenticeship in Champagne, then continued his studies to obtain the oenology diploma. He has had multiple professional experiences, including at Domaine de Terrebrune in Bandol, then at Domaine de la Romanée Conti and at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé in Burgundy.

Angela started her studies in Canada in Food Science and came back to France to learn oenology. Originally from Jura, she discovered the wine world thanks to Stephane Tissot. Her professional experiences with Mrs Lalou Bize Leroy at Domaine Leroy, then at the Hospices de Beaune with Ludivine Griveau, and finally with Thibault Liger-Belair, have allowed her to understand the link between a wine grower and their vines, and its wines.

The name Obora comes from a combination of their birthplaces and where they make wine — Aube, Beaujolais and Jura.

Axel Domont

Axel Domont came to Savoie as a member of the French national cycling team, which he was a part of from 2013-2020. After a terrible cycling accident ended his career he found himself turning to a new passion: winemaking. His second career started with a first vintage in 2021. Most of Axel’s production is from rented vines at the foot of Mt. Granier. He purchases fruit from neighbors as well. Production space and supplies are borrowed from his friend Nicolas Ferrand at Domaine de Côte Rousses. The rented vines are all organically farmed and the purchased fruit is from either organic or biodynamic vineyards.