Landing the TGV difficult not to spot the long silhouette of Arnaud Combier Cap screwed on the head, it is that it is still beautiful in the Mâconnais at the end of September. It was to spend two days in this superb Burgundy that I left Paris at dawn, it is mainly to take the time to discover Arnaud's work and talk about his projects.
It is not 10 hours but already crisscrossing the roads that lead us in Beaujolais I know that these 48 hours will be exciting. This is the full period of vinification. And when we make plain wine it is the moment when the quality of the juices reveals the months spent in the vineyard. Before even entering the vintage, we surprise laughter and a good big sound which rises from an enclosure posed not far from an elevator. Quentin crowds the pretty clusters from Gamay in music. Arnaud lifts the cover of a tank, it is a question of listening to the fermenting juices. I believe that I prefer this score there ... It has been more than 20 years since Arnaud developed nature cuvées in Burgundy. Natural wine is its identity. If genealogy is the list of family members, then we can talk about the legendary family of Lapierre, Foillard and Valette. Winegrowers with whom he shared founding exchanges a long time ago. At the time if his Cuvées de Saint-Véran were already in organic, he continued the path to nature by taking out his first cuvées "without sulfur".
But this choice is not without consequences and that is what Arnaud explains to me by leading me in the flowers of Fleurie. The vineyard load, climatic vagaries, costs ... The transition is never simple. It was because he would have liked to have the opportunity at the time to benefit from the financial support of a vinity-breeder-breeder reassuring him on the sustainability of his work that he takes this turn today. Arnaud is convinced of this: the transition to organic then nature requires support and for those who have the desire to start this approach feeling supported in a technical and financial partnership makes it possible to move forward safely. Now is the time to meet one of the winegrowers with whom Arnaud has been working for a few years. In the heart of the Fleurie Coasts we stop enjoying a few juices during the vinification. The producer turned to plain wine when he understood that this was what his son was waiting for, transmitting his vines to the next generation could not be done without a frank evolution. He can count on the technical knowledge of Arnaud and the good remuneration he offers for the purchase of his grapes. The day drops on the soft slopes of Beaujolais and we return to spend the evening in Arnaud's family.
We cross superb landscapes with the Mont-Blanc massif online in sight and after a brief stop at his parents to fill up on tomatoes and eggplant harvested in their vegetable patch there is only to let our host who In addition to making magnificent wines knows it in the kitchen! A flambé for this fresh fall evening and we warm up quickly by tasting its first drops 2019, a cuvée that I like for its flexibility and the spices that awaken the final. The next day we are happy to join Arnaud's teams. Quentin, Romain and David monitor the tanks, taste, analyze and then brush and drew constantly.Natural wine does not support dubious hygiene!
Transparency on his methods, the volumes he produces, his partners, Arnaud really insists on this. And his desire to offer wines certainly natural but in a just price, he knows that often the expensive prices of these wines make potential amateurs flee. What he wants is to succeed in last and nothing will be without sincerity. Because this is how we can create a social fabric, perpetuate vineyards and support transitions to healthy and lively soils.
Camille Naud - Wine networks
Your relationship to plain wine?
I started to make natural wines 20 years ago, the idea at the time was to offer better wines than classic, more digestible, more personal wines too. To do this, you have to be very meticulous during all the stages of manufacturing, very precise, therefore far from the “a natural wine is done all by itself”, know-how rather than letting it do.
Why a trading activity?
I want to offer natural wines at affordable prices and it is by accompanying my partners that this is possible. In addition, this activity allows me to have fun producing more original wines, orange wine type, to build cuvées with some of my clients, something difficult to achieve when you are a winemaker.
How is the selection of grapes and grapes going and what is the partnership with the winemaker?
It is the link with the winemaker, the ability to understand us and possibly the friendship that can be created that decides on the selection. Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir, tomorrow Aligoté, I am essentially quite Burgundian. The idea is to work in the long term with the same winegrowers, to develop our different techniques and therefore advance the different cuvées produced. My field of action will therefore depend on the need for the winemaker, either wine (organic conversion, use of equipment, soil life) or oenological (work without sulfur, assembly, preparation of wines with bottles).
How is the production of wine going?
There is no recipe, we adapt to the configuration of the different types of rags where wines are raised. In broad outline: organic or conversion grapes, no input during the vinif (neither sulfur neither yeasts, nor stuff, no machines ...) except accident, soft music, and according to the stability of the wine before the Bottling we add sulfur or not (the idea is to be less than 30mg of SO2, a limit dose for plain wines).
What type of wine do you want to do?
Fine and intelligent wines like me (laughs), if they have fruit and freshness is good too.
What does the name organize mean?
This can be so diverse depending on the personality of their sire, that it is easier to define what it is not. An author wine is anything but a standard, stereotypical wine, made to please as many people as possible. It is therefore rarely produced in millions of copies, copying itself from vintage in vintage.
An author wine is therefore a wine that does not look like that of the neighbor. Which from year to year will evolve according to the vagaries of the weather and the mood of the author - the two that can be linked. Because the author does not rely on market studies to carry out his boat. He makes his wine as he feels, as he likes, as he can, sometimes ... and too bad if he does not please everyone.
This is why author wines are sometimes classified as "table wine" or "France wine". Because the winemaker did not plan the authorized grape variety*, makes the assembly or vinification recommended in the name **. He is often a bit rebellious, our author. But that is why we like it! ... That said, author's wines are not systematically marginal: they are present in most of the appellations, and can be part of the elite of these this***. Because they are not content to have personality: they are good, in addition! With in general aDegree of TorchabilityVery high: we never tire of it at the end of the first sip.
As author's wines are not chaptalized, levied, hacked ... They can have very different profiles depending on the vintage. It is up to us (resellers and consumers) to accept them as they are, and to remain faithful to the producers, because they need us to continue their activity.
*** Like those of Jean-François Ganevat in the Jura or Zind-Humbercht in Alsace