Wine, naturally has a nice profile of Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves:
Otherwise he subscribes to all the cherished tenets of the natural wine movement – tisanes and biodynamic treatments, low yields, horses in the vineyard (increasingly all his new plantings are worked with horses), natural yeasts and ungrafted rootstocks. He feels particularly strongly about the last two. “I am against vignerons who cultivate their own yeasts. Each year brings a different selection and that marks the vintage.” And rootstocks? “If you graft you are putting a filter between the roots and the vine.”
He’s not religious about sulphur but uses very little. “Hardly ever more than 2g and never before malo. “To say you use no sulphur is a con. I don’t go to zero but the more sulphur you put in the more you lose the life of a wine. If you get it right in the vineyard you don’t need sulphur. A living wine doesn’t oxidise – that wine (the 2011 Terres Chaudes we tasted below) has been open for 8 days.”
Not that he’s averse to innovation when it can help preserve the purity of his wines. His bottling line he says is a sterile, germ free area to avoid last minute contamination. All bottles filled sous vide (under a vacuum).
The project that excites him most at the moment, however, is creating a ‘conservatoire de Cabernet’, a collection of 220 vines from old vineyards out of which he’ll aim to pick about 60 through selection massale (producing cuttings from selected vines rather than clonal material from a nursery). Again harking back to an earlier period when a typical vineyard would contain 45/50 different clones. “It’s essential if you’re working on own rootstocks” he says, simply. “It’s important to preserve variety because one clone can get diseased.” A bequest to leave for future generations.
Read the full post a Wine, naturally.