Mas D’intras are independant vinegrowers located in the town of Valvignères in the southern French department of Ardèche. They have been exploiting the lands of their family in the hamlet of Intras since 1982.
They are a small family business of only 7 people and they produce organic certified wines. Everything from work in the vines to bottling is made by themselves at the domaine. Their decision to go organic came from a wish to adopt a responsible attitude.
Champs du Lièvre
Champs du lièvre is located in the small village of La Livinière in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. In the middle of the famous Minervois, the town has been awarded its very own AOC in 1999 thanks to its unique soils and climate that make it stand out. Winemaking here goes back to the Roman times and has been continuing since the 2nd century B.C.
The philosophy of Les champs du Lièvre is to produce small batches of great wines that show what the extraordinary terroir of La Livinière has to offer. They individually vinify each vineyard and varieties to bring forward the unique specificities of all of their vines.
The vines range from 15 to more than 60 years old. The grape varieties, such as Carignan, Syrah, Grenache Noir and Cinsault grow in a warm mediterranean climate. All harvesting are made by hand so that the grapes are carefully selected to insure the best maturity. Finally, the domaine is currently transitioning to organic farming.
Stephanie Jordan & Tim Etherington-Judge
Avallen is a young reinterpretation of the classic Calvados from northern French Normandy. This apple brandy is entirely produced in the Manche department and is made according to standards of the AOC Calvados. Made with 40 different varieties of apples and without any artificial sweeteners, it is a natural and refreshing take on the traditional “Calva”.
It is as natural as it can be. Avallen founders Stephanie and Tim wanted to create a tasteful drink as ecological as possible. And they succeeded. With that goal and their deep love for bees and nature in mind, they designed every step of the production to be respectful of nature. From the sustainable orchards to the ecological labels and bottles, everything was made to reduce water consumption and the carbon footprint of the drink. Thanks to the apple trees, that naturally capture CO2 from the atmosphere, each bottle of Avallen is CO2 positive: it generates less carbon dioxyde to produce it than can be captured by the apple trees in the company’s orchard.
The entire production process is done by the Distillerie Coquerel which have been striving to reduce water and fuel consumption in the past years.
Domaine des Jeunes Pousses
The Domaine des Jeunes Pousses is a quite unique estate. With organic vineyards in the villages of Émeringes and Chénas in the Beaujolais, the entire winery is given to young winemakers for three years. During this period, they assume full control on all aspects of the production, from the vines to the shop. By doing so, the estate owner Thibaut Liger Belair wants to give the possibility to young winemakers who are new to the wine scene to train and gain fame in the sector.
The winery is currently in the hands of Angela Quiblier and Hugo Foizel, two dynamic young oenologist. Since 2019, they have been in charge of development and maintenance of the domain and have been producing their very own wines. They consider this experience as a wonderful chance that will teach them how to become autonomous producers.
The name “Jeunes Pousses” (“young shoots”) was not picked randomly. after all, the very goal of this estate is to let young winemakers grow big.
Domaine des Fauvettes
After working along side her husband for many years, Maryse Chatelin acquired a small patch of land outside of the small village of Uchizy, Burgundy, where she planted Pinot Noir vines. The small vineyard is remote to the rest of the village and allows a focus on biodiversity.
Maryse has a real natural approach to wine making. Wines are aged in old foudres, unfiltered, and nothing at all is added at bottling.
Château des Eclaz
Les Noces Alchimiques
Domaine des Miroirs
Kenjiro’s path to his own domaine was a long and slow one that included work in many of the greatest wine cellars in France and when you talk to him about his production, he’s often referencing a lot of that experience. He has a hold on how VA ages and integrates thanks to watching the amazing wines of Bruno Schueller develop in bottle. He learned about the details of how to handle Jura varieties from Jean-François Ganevat. It wasn’t until moving to the other side of the world, learning a new language, going to oenology school, and learning from some of the greatest producers alive did he acquire a 4 hectare parcel outside of Grusse, near the famed village of Rotalier. It’s a special parcel on a fairly steep slope completely surrounded by forest. I’ve got a particular appreciation for vineyards surrounded by nature. They make wine in a small, old building in town and they all spend time in old barrels before release. For me, this is one of the things the best natural wine makers do if they can afford it, which is to wait on the wine and bottle them at precisely the best moment for each wine. I think he’s a real master at this as the wines ofter hug that edge of reduction and openness.
Céline Peyre and Alexandre Gressent
“We cultivate 14 hectares of old vines in hillsides, on the Hautes-Corbières terroir, in Aude. Family vines cultivated for several generations, in organic farming. In biodynamic farming since autumn 2018.
Our objective is to produce fine wines valued by a cultivation approach implicated in the environmental cause, and to commit ourselves to offering natural wines, which reflect our precious and unique terroir of Hautes Corbières. Terroir expressed by shale soils on hillsides at an altitude of 140 to 280 meters surrounded by scrubland and shrub. The climate is Mediterranean, dry, sunny ,and windy – perfect support for expressions.”
Jennifer Bariou & Thibaut Bodet
Jennifer Bariou and Thibaut Bodet
Brigitte Maestrojuan and Michel Maestrojuan
Clos de Bernardi
Jean-Laurent de Bernardi and Jean-Paul de Bernardi
Founded in 1880, by the grandfather of Jean-Laurent and Jean-Paul De Bernardi, the estate covers 10 hectares, on a clay-limestone land by the sea.
The vines are worked in a traditional way that is to say by hand, the culture is certified organic.
The A.O.C, recognized in 1968, is the result of the work of their father, Mr. Pierre De Bernardi, then President of the Wine Union of Patrimonio.
De Bernardi’s philosophy is to favor quality rather than quantity, to guarantee natural, organic production, while respecting the environment and the know-how of the profession.
In the center of the village of Patrimonio, a 19th century stone building houses this 3rd generation of wine growers. In this cellar, steeped in history, Jean-Laurent and Jean-Paul, lovers of their land and their craft, will enjoy making you taste their exceptional wine.
Before becoming a vigneron, a 20 year old Lolita Sene had another life as an artistic director of a nightclub. This inspired her to combine her loves of partying and science so she returned to school to study agronomy with the ultimate goal of making wine. She quickly became bored of conventional winemaking and discovered the world of natural wine, which she felt touched on “a very particular emotion.” After school, Lolita worked in a cellar and as a sommelier in the U.S., passionately defending natural wine. After a few years of this, Lolita was tired of just serving and talking about natural wine, and so made the decision to move back to France to make her own.
Today, Lolita is the owner of a plot of land in the southern Rhône that grows Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. She began with just 1,800 bottles in 2018 and is currently producing 8,000 for 2020. She is committed to never exceeding 10,000 bottles because her motto is “Start small, stay small.”
Lolita does absolutely everything by hand, from working the vineyard (hand harvested) to designing the labels. She utilizes a clique press, lightly crushes by foot, and fills her barrels by bucket. Bottling takes place on a small 4-bec machine. Committed to minimal intervention, Lolita’s wines use only organically farmed grapes and are never fined or filtered with zero sulfur added.
Champagne David Léclapart
David Léclapart is the 4th generation to farm his family’s 3 hectare estate, located in Trépail, a premier cru village in Montagne de Reims. He took over the winemaking mantle from his father who passed in 1996, and began releasing wines under his own name in 1998.
Within the 3 hectares are 20 parcels of Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay (the dominant grape in Trèpail), and Pinot Noir, all on chalky marls. David was certified Ecocert and Demeter in 2000, making him a very early adopter of chemical free farming within the context of Champagne and its long love affair with industrialized processes. Everything is single vineyard without blending or reserves, and just between 10,000 – 15,000 bottles per year. Native yeasts, enameled steel (defiantly not stainless, as David feels stainless imparts a “negative energy“), small used oak barrels, and full malolactic fermentation are all part of the program. No dosage ever, of course. There is a much stronger emphasis here on the vineyard than the cellar, which is pretty countercultural for a region defined by “house style” and conventional farming, to put it lightly.
These are true individualistic expressions of vintage and the south easterly slopes of Trépail and its surrounding forests.
Thierry Bonnet and Cyril Bonnet
Grégoire Bonnet founded the estate in 1862. That’s 150 years of continuous production within the same family, now helmed by Thierry Bonnet and his son Cyril. They farm over 10 hectares including the Premier Cru and Grand Cru villages of Chamery, Vrigny, Coulommes la Montagne, Verzenay, and Verzy. This is spread over 50 parcels of 35-80 year old vines, all farmed organic since 2013 and certified in 2016, which puts them in rare company for Champagne. All initial fermentations are native yeasts, no filtration, and minimal sulfur. Their production is approximately 60,000 bottles per year.
These represent honest expressions and are part of the new guard (at least philosophically) of organic viticulture and crystalline assertions within a sea of mass production. They even make some true zero-zero cuvées, including their not to be missed Coteaux Champenois. These still wines are direct translations of the terroirs and remind us of the purity of Pinot and Chardonnay when they have not been “messed” with.
Romain Le Bars
Romain Le Bars
Romain Le Bars is part of a band of young vignerons (Valentin Valles, Sébastien Chatillon, Gregory Guillaume, and Charles Soulier) who are putting the deep southern Rhône/Gard on the natural wine map in a significant way. Romain works a minuscule 1.50 hectare vineyard and had his first harvest in 2018. Before bottling his first vintage, he spent 7 years working for Tavel legend Eric Pfifferling (Domain L’Anglore) and that influence is evident in the glass! The wines are mostly blends of Grenache and Syrah, vinified in used wood barrels, that are either carbonically macerated or direct press. These are light, zero-zero wines made in the same spirit as his former employer. In other words, light in color and powerful in expression! Romain is certainly a name to pay attention to as these tiny production wines have garnered an immediate following!
Château Lafitte is located in Monein between Pau and Oloron Sainte-Marie within the Jurançon appellation. The castle can trace its origin back to the 14th century, but it wasn’t until the current owners, Philippe and Brigitte Arraou, began making wine here that the viticultural history was recaptured.
Aurélien and Charlotte Houillon
Aurélien and Charlotte Houillon began their project in Vaucluse in 2017 after having worked for years in the Jura with Pierre Ovenoy and Emmanuel Houillon (Aurélien‘s brother). Here they have taken the same minimalist approach to the winemaking and biodynamics in the vineyards that have made the wines from Ovenoy so legendary (not to mention that other Houillon unicorn, Bruyere-Houillon!)
They have 9 hectares of mostly rescued vines in the village of Faucon, which rests in the shadow of Mont Ventoux.
These are wild wines, but still possess the depth and southern Rhône intensity from the classic grapes of the region (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault). And, in a nod to just how artisanal and hand made this project is, some of the labels are made from their own papyrus they are screening from scratch in their barn!
Recrue des Sens
Since 2010, Yann Durieux has worked a small area of 3 hectares in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits in Villers-la-Faye. With a solid apprenticeship at Domaine Prieuré-Roch in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Yann embarks on the adventure and upsets the preconceived ideas of a very traditional Burgundy. He vinifies with talent and according to biodynamic methods.
Paul Perarnau and Willy Roulendes
Willy is the winemaker. After working at Domaine De Montille, he took care of wines from Clos du Moulin aux Moines to Auxey-Durresses. With this great experience, he gained a deep knowledge of the terroirs of the Côte de Beaune. For him, Ami is the opportunity to let burst a bubble of madness.
Paul is the farmer. Having been trained in the art of tasting in London and Paris, he is the link between the city and the countryside. His passion for wines of character led him to work with talented winemakers such as Oronce de Beler and Dominique Hauvette.
In 2016, after working as the head sommelier of Le Chateaubriand in Paris for seven years, Sébastien Chatillon moved to Vallabrix in the Gard to start Ad Vinum.
Originally from Normandy, Sébastien went to university for about 4 months before deciding it was dull and not for him. Questioning his life path, he tried out many jobs. He sold candy, worked in stables, led rock bands… What would bring him true fulfillment?
Sébastien often ended a night of partying at his friend’s dad’s wine cave, drinking until the early morning hours. It occurred to him that he liked wine. He figured if he was going to drink the beverage until dawn, then maybe he should learn how to make it. He moved to the Loire Valley and worked with René Mosse in Anjou for four years. René opened his world to natural wine. “It was fresh, different, and in the morning I had no headache. A dream for a guy like me.”
Sébastien’s next move was to Paris for a girl. René set him up with Iñaki Aizpitarte, the chef of Le Chateaubriand. At the young age of 25, he became the sommelier of a restaurant that in 2010 was ranked no. 11 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chateaubriand enabled him to dive deep into natural wine. There was absolutely no turning back.
In addition to starting Ad Vinum, Sébastien Chatillon owns Le Cave. Le Cave is a tiny wine shop sandwiched between Le Dauphin and Le Chateaubriand that sells natural wine from more than 15 countries.
Domaine de la Pinte
At the heart of the Arbois vineyard, Roger Martin writes a page in the history of Vin Jaune. At the place called “La Pinte à la Capitaine,” on the blue marls of the Lias, he planted 14 hectares of Savagnin. It was then the largest estate planted in Savagnin. Today, Pierre Martin perpetuates the work of his father and has enlarged the Estate which totals 34 hectares of vines.
In 1999 the La Pinte estate made a brave choice by converting its entire land to organic viticulture. Since 2009 they have reached a new stage of practicing biodynamic farming throughout the 34 hectares.
Born from celtic “ar” and “bos” meaning “fertile land”, the appellation Arbois was the first French AOC to date. It is also the first of the Jura by its volume of production, producing 45,000 hectoliters a year. This appellation is spread over 13 communes with a total of 843 hectares. The five grape varieties authorized in the Jura are eligible for AOC Arbois, which produces around 70% of Jura red wines and 30% of whites. Indeed, the reds dominate in terms of surface and production on this soil which is favorable to the grapes. In a rugged terrain with calcareous scree, the soil consists of very deep iridescent marls and clay – silicous and compact.
They practice shallow plowing which does not destroy the soil, but on the contrary, will contribute to the harmony between each element which composes it: microorganisms, minerals trace elements, micro fauna.
Biodynamic culture also allows the yeasts to grow on the skin of the grapes. The grapes are harvested by hand and are vinified with these indigenous yeasts. The use of sulfur is limited and not systematic: a little on the juice before starting the fermentation, sometimes during breeding.
The fermentation happens in barriques, demi-muids, and foudres, the duration varies according to the grape varieties.
The wines are aged on fine lees and extracted according to the lunar calendar. We prefer the transfer of wines by working by gravity.
The Grosbois family vineyard is located at a place called “The Pressoir” Panzoult in the Chinon appellation in the heart of the Loire Valley. The Chinon appellation, recognized in AOC, offers wines with aromas of red fruits and violets and covers 2,300 hectares. Located on the hillside of Chinon facing the south, Domaine Grosbois consists of 9 hectares of vines spread over 13 different plots in order to adapt the cultures to the soil. This varied plot configuration allows a palette of expression for their wines. Nicolas wanted to preserve this heritage and to respect its 600-year history. We also work 28 hectares of grains.
Nicolas came back to the vineyard in 2008, to take over for his parents, whilst bringing a new outlook and techniques from other wine regions – Southern France, Australia, New Zealand, United States, and Chile.
The wines are made from the Cabernet Franc grape called “Breton”, growing on limestone bedrock. The soils mostly consist of clay and limestone. A fragmented geography respected since the 15th century makes it possible to produce four vintages of character. Different soils modulate the personality of the wines. The gravelly soil of low hills gives fruity wines, where the top of the hill, the argilo-siliceous lands produce more structured wines. The know-how of Nicolas and the knowledge of his vineyards allows him to create distinct elegant, wines, while respecting the soil and the product through organic agriculture. The work of a winemaker is to adapt to the physical and climatic constraints, to question constantly, and thus, to uncover the character and personality of the terroir through the wines they produce.
Domaine Jean-Baptiste Senat
Jean-Baptiste Senat and Charlotte Senat
In 1995, Jean-Baptiste and Charlotte Senat returned to the land of their families, the commune of Trausse in Minervois. At the time, Jean-Baptiste was a student in Paris and was not happy with his life. After meeting various natural winemakers and having read works by Jules Chauvet, he realized the style of wines he wanted to make and where he wanted to make them.
1996 was the first vintage of the Domaine. Jean-Baptiste restructured the cellar and converted to Ecocert farming. He is very active in the vineyards and cellar, taking a hands-on approach. Charlotte manages the administration and commercial parts of the winery, bringing everything together.
The vineyards possess two very distinct terroirs: clay over limestone and lentilles silencieuses de garrigue. The plots are located on the hills of the Montagne Noire, separated by about a dozen kilometers in different communes. Charlotte and Jean-Baptiste believe that the climate is more impactful than even the ground and soil.
Jean-Baptise has become a pioneer of natural winemaking in Minervois. After decades of winemaking, his style has matured – using only native grape varieties (Grenache at the front and center), organic farming, no fining or filtration, and no sulphur. In turn, this produces wines that are each unique but share a universal quality – drinkability.
Domaine Les Arabesques
Saskia Van Der Horst
Saskia Van Der Horst worked as a sommelier in London before deciding to study oenology in Burgundy. During her 2 year degree, she apprenticed with some of the greats in natural wine – Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune and Jean-Christophe Comor in Provence.
In 2013, she settled in the Roussillon in South West France and started Domaine Les Arabesques. The estate has been certified organic since 2013 and is located 30km from Perpignan, between the Corbières and Pyrenees mountains. Eight vineyard plots make up 4.50 hectares of old vine Carignan as well as Syrah, Lledoner Pelut, Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, and Macabeu. The vineyards are spread across three towns, and Saskia benefits from a great diversity in soil types; schist in Montner, marl slate in Planèzes, and gneiss granite in Latour-de-France.
Oscillating between fiberglass tanks and wood, Saskia makes wine using only native yeasts, without fining or filtering. Grapes are destemmed and very lightly crushed with little to no added sulfur, depending on the year. She has been practicing biodynamics since 2019.
Anders Frederik Steen
Anders Frederik Steen
Anders Frederik Steen makes wine from “grapes and only grapes”. He’s been doing this since 2013 when he first started buying fruit from winemakers he admired and making wine alongside legendary Jura vigneron, Jean-Marc Brignot.
Anders and his family have now settled in the beautiful village of Valvignères in the Ardèche and he grows grapes and makes wine at his friends Jocelyne & Gérald Oustric’s farm, Le Mazel. It is a beautiful spot on the slope of a wide, open valley and the many varieties grown here thrive on a perfect mix of clay and limestone. The vineyards are full of life, having been tended organically for decades.
In his previous life, Anders was both a chef and sommelier, working at the best restaurants in his native Denmark. First as a sommelier at Noma, later opening Manfreds and Relae. This experience informs his winemaking in that he does not seek to follow rules and doesn’t feel the need to do the same thing every year. Instead, as he harvests he tastes the grapes and begins to imagine the kind of wine he might be able to make. It is a refreshingly logical, creative approach, and the results speak for themselves.
Anders’ wines are made from red grapes which are either pressed directly or destemmed by hand and white grapes pressed directly in a beautiful old wooden press. Any blending is done during the harvest and the different varieties always ferment together, spontaneously, outside under the open sky. The wines are bottled unfiltered, with no additions and are thoughtful, original expressions of this part of the Ardèche.
Chahut et Prodiges