Spotlight on: Domaine Le Briseau

by blog on September 27, 2021

Photo credit: louisdressner.com

Nathalie Gaubicher, former sommelier, founded Domaine Le Briseau in 2002, with her first husband, Christian Chaussard, in Marçon, in an area encompassing Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir. ‘Briseau’ is named after a plot on the estate that contains clay with large pieces of flint-stone that have tended to break (‘briser’) all tools that are used on it. The entirety of Jasnières covers a mere eighty hectares of vines, and Coteaux-du-Loir about two hundred. The soils are largely all clay and silica over a subsoil of limestone, and Domaine le Briseau began with four hectares of vines planted mainly with Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis. In 2007, the estate had grown to eleven hectares. All vineyard work was – and still is – done according to the principles of organic viticulture. Christian was tragically killed in a tractor accident in 2012 and other local natural vignerons pitched in to help Nathalie with the vintage. Nathalie eventually remarried, her husband Emile Heredia, who used to own Domaine de Montrieux (and now has Domaine des Dimanches in the Languedoc), makes the wine.

How do you like them grapes: Chenin and Pineau d’Aunis.

In the vineyard: The principles of organic viticulture are observed: no pesticides, insecticides or chemical fertilizers are used; nettle and horsetail decoctions are sprayed on the foliage; copper is used in modest quantity (less than 5kg/ha); the vines are ploughed and grass allowed to grow between the rows. In 2006, the estate started its conversion to biodynamic principles. The Chenin vines and some of the Pineau d’Aunis vines are 80-years-old.

In the winery: The harvest is done by hand in 10kg boxes. The white grapes are pressed lightly and slowly. Débourbage (first racking to separate solid matter from juice) takes place after twenty-four hours, then the must goes into barrels for the alcoholic fermentation (none of the barrels are new, but rather four to eight year old.) Malolactic fermentation usually follows and is not stopped by any means. Nothing is added: there is no chaptalisation, no selected yeasts, no sulphur, no enzymes, no de-acidification, no fining. There is one racking to get rid of the wine’s gross lees, and then aging for several months, according to each cuvée. There is a light filtration and addition of 20mg of sulphur at the time of bottling. The red grapes are trodden by foot before going into maceration vats – the proportion of destemmed versus whole cluster varies according to the vintage. Maceration occurs under the protection of carbon dioxide in a semi-liquid stage (semi-carbonic maceration) and lasts one to three weeks. The musts are then pressed and go into barrels for their alcoholic and malolactic fermentations. Again, nothing is added to the wines and the same principles are used at bottling.

QI: Le Briseau translates to “the shatterer” which reflects the solid layer of subsoil flint present in their vineyards which is extremely difficult to penetrate/shatter.

Patapon, one of the Pineau d’Aunis cuvées, derives from “Et ron, et ron, petit patapon,” a French children’s nursery rhyme.

‘Le Verre des Poètes’ was the name of one of Emile’s old vines cuvées at Domaine de Montrieux. His great grand uncle, José Maria de Heredia (1842-1905), was a French poet, a prominent member of the Montparnassian movement which disagreed with poetry that contained personal opinions or moral messages, preferring to promote ‘Art for Art’s Sake’.

All the wines are Vin de France.

The Key Wines:

VdF “Kharakter”

VdF “Patapon” Rouge

VdF “Le Verre des Poètes”

Food match: Chenin’s natural mate is river fish – trout or salmon, to your fancy. Anything with a beurre blanc sauce. The peppery reds are most agreeable when lightly chilled and paired with pork sausages and grilled lamb cutlets.

Philosophy: Vigneron non conformé!

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Interested in trying the wines of Domaine Le Briseau? Contact us directly:

[email protected] |  [email protected] |
01483 538820

*Note: We are still open for business, doing deliveries, and keen
to help everyone with their booze needs in this difficult time.
Natural wine lovers can visit our online shop and order online!

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