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With no vines, no cellar and not a lot of money, how do you create a winery ? It’s from this question was born a unique savoir-faire explains François Dauvergne : “As we had no vines but we wanted to create our own wines, we had to establish strong relationships with winegrowers in the Rhône Valley. In exchange for our advice and good compensation, we select the best plots of vines which the growers then work for us following our guidelines. Everything is examined: pruning, putting in grass between the rows, debudding… in a precise yet practical fashion".
The most important step before the harvest consists of tasting the grapes, which Jean-François does personally, plot by plot. This is without a doubt one of the most important points: tasting the grapes allows you to precisely determine this which no instrument can do: the true maturity of the grapes. Because you cannot create great wines without excellent grapes. As a scientific analysis cannot measure what makes a good grape: its taste. It’s only by tasting the grapes one can know at what moment to harvest what plot of vines.
Once the harvest is finished, the grapes are put into tanks that each estate reserves for us onsite. This has multiple advantages: the grapes are not altered by additional, unnecessary transport, the winegrower respects in the same way all of his harvest and he masters his own equipment. At the same time, the use of the winegrower’s own, existing equipment allows us to limit costs and thus offer a great wine at a reasonable price.
Vinification takes place under our control. We visit all of the cellars up to five times a week.
We don’t have a unique method for vinification, as each cuvee has its own potential and its own style. We adapt each vinification by what we find in tastings and by always respecting the fruit. The minimum number of interventions, the most delicate extraction and achieving a maximum freshness are nevertheless constant goals.”
At the end of fermentation, the wines are stocked in tanks or barrels in each winegrower’s estate. When barrels are used, we select and buy the barrels ourselves and give them to the winegrowers. A rather expensive gesture, but which reinforces confidence with the growers. Regular tastings of the wines during the maturation process allows us to control quality and avoid any potential problems. Finally, bottling is assured by an outside, certified specialist.
(Jean-François Ranvier tasting grapes before harvest [above] and François Dauvergne during the 2010 vinification)