Bruno Duchêne hails from the Loire Valley, where his family had a thriving business selling farm machinery. Before starting his career as a winemaker, he was a wild mushroom distributor in the Loire Valley and Burgundy, which is when he became interested in wine; meticulously made, natural, non-interventionist wines in particular. He went to work with Frédéric Cossard, of Domaine de Chassorney, in Saint Romain for nine months to learn how to make it. And drink it too, he says! He now resides in the town of Banyuls in the Roussillon, where he produces wines from some of France’s hardest-to-work vineyards.
He now owns four hectares spread over four parcels, all on schist but with a variety of expositions and micro-climates. The Côte Vermeille vineyards of Banyuls and Collioure are legendary for being extremely low-yielding, and very difficult to work mechanically, which means an ever-increasing number of people have abandoned some of these legendary sites. He works one parcel with a horse, another one he allows the grass and flowers to grow between the rows of vines.
Bruno works his vines organically, and, because of the region’s ideal climate, he averages only three sulphur applications per year – and never uses copper. The wines ferment spontaneously in tank; then are racked to barrel for ageing. Sulphur is normally only used before bottling – if at all.
He ferments whole cluster with very little extraction – light pigeage, no remontage. The delicacy of his approach allows the wine to retain some translucency that gives a window to the flavours of a place. Fermentation takes place in wooden fermentation vats of 26 hl with native yeasts. Two thirds of the wine is matured in vats and the remainder in used Burgundy barrels. No filtration, no fining and minimal sulphur.
Bruno’s La Luna Rouge is more than a vin de soif, it’s a youthful Collioure, if such a thing exists. Unmistakable aromas of ripe Grenache fruit lead one into a palate with a sappy quality and a nice tug of minerals. In this vintage, the Grenache Noir is supplemented by relatives Gris and Blanc, Carignan plus a soupçon of Mourvèdre. And a sizeable sachet of garrigue herbs. Schist + fruit + sunshine, an intoxicating combo. Chill it lightly and fire up the barbecue. Drink with sausages or lamb chops smothered in rosemary; chill it further and glug with garlicky ratatouille. If Raoul Dufy painted your lunch, this bottle would undoubtedly be part of the picture.
La Luna Blanc comes from two plots of vines. It is a blend of Grenache Blanc and Gris (2/3), grown on Cru Banyuls and Xarel-lo from Penedes (1/3). The Grenaches are put in direct pressing while the Xarel-lo undergoes a skin maceration of 5 days. The Grenaches are aged in vats and barrels, the Xarel-lo is aged in amphorae. Racy and textural with bags of Med cred. Waxy pears, salted limes and powdered chalky minerals seasoned with flecks of garrigue herbs – a rare white gem from this part of the world.
Why we love this: We’re goofy about liquid Dufy. And this is a wine of light, sea and paintable landscape. More Dominique than André Derain though!
Unique selling point: Xarel.lo, skin-contact, amphora are three of our favourite words in one sentence.
2021 IGP La Luna Blanc
2021 IGP La Luna Rouge
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