The Stars

Our star cuvees are the gems of our Vienne and Poitou vineyard and each vintage is the completion of the challenge of producing great wine with groundbreaking winemaking techniques.

The star wines only see the light of day in good vintages and come from a selection of barrels that surprise us with their exceptional character. They don’t come from a particular parcel of vines, nor necessarily old vines, but have their own special identity like all the rare fine wines of the world. They have a star cut out of the label of whichever fine wine they are, and a star engraved in the bottle by hand that in a flash reminds one of their roots.

  • PN1328* 2002

The first ever star wine. A legendary bottle.

  • PN1328* 2003

One cannot imagine a greater concentration of fruit and texture, such elegance and depth. The 2003 vintage is it.

 

  • PN1328* 2005

After 20 months in barrel, one might think that it’s a liqueur ( it’s 14.9% alcohol). Its only Pinot. Noir for sure.

 

  • Le K* 2003

Cabernet Franc in a cool climate can be stunning in great vintages. Exceptional depth, texture, fresh fruit and unbelievable density.

 

  • Le K* 2005

 

A perfect style of concentrated elegance. Will last forever.

  • Le S* 2006

The most recent of the stars, uniquely finished with the latest generation of screw cap. An outstanding concentration, fruity yet with an unbelievably smoky character. Uniquely powerful and an amazing length.

 

A few words about the origin and philosophy behind the star wines :


Just how good a wine could I produce? That’s the question asked by all winemakers and vineyard owners. Like so many of the biggest things in my life, making wine in the Vienne started completely by chance.

 

In 1972 my father inherited a tiny piece of land in our old family property at La Mailleterie. It was his grandfather’s one parcel of vines and as the only son, he had naturally inherited it. It was the same year that I was born. This piece of land had the cadastral number 1328. These numbers don’t mean much, but I remember as if it were yesterday replanting the vineyard with my maternal grandfather, his mate, big Robert who always had ruddy cheeks and was so strong that he was always breaking the handles of the wooden tools, and my father, who had chosen to replant half of it with Pinot Noir after grubbing out hundred year old Folle vines. I was 9 years old. I still have the crowbar that dug the holes. My job was to hand out the “rigets” the name the locals called the grafted plants. I picked the first grapes in 1983 and I designed my first labels that same year. Looking back I wasn’t that proud of them but all the same they were printed in three colours on the machine at the Saint Exupery School. That was quite something. They were a mixture of the labels I found in Grandpa’s cellar which didn’t have much wine out of the ordinary, which makes it all the more extraordinary.

 

In 1990 for the first time, I aged some wine in 110 litre new oak barrels that we had bought from Seguin-Moreau for a small fortune and brought back from Cognac in the boot of our Renault 25. They were wrapped in plastic like two enormous Easter eggs and they were the first barrels that we had bought for 100 years. You might not think much of this but I was impressed at the time and I have loved barrels ever since for no other reason than this.

 

In 1995 I began to sell the wine under the label of PN1328 a mixture of the initials of the variety and the cadastral number. I quite simply copied on the labels what I had written on the barrels for years, a notation that I believe I used for the first time by scratching it into the thick layer of black “Aspergillus” mould covering the barrel containing the 1988 vintage.

 

In 1996 for the first time in quite a while we ploughed parcel 1328. The earth there is not easy, delicate and a bit quixotic. All terroir has its own character and I find the character of parcel 1328 to be a little like my own.

 

1328 has consistently produced good grapes but in 2002 the results surpassed anything that I had ever dreamt. And if it was chance in the beginning that had given this piece of land its riches, then it was most necessary, because of all the red grapes, Pinot Noir is notoriously the most marvelous offering a combination of unrivalled finesse and fruitiness. Under certain rare conditions a wine can embody all the qualities of Pinot Noir and then something else. One might have thought that the stunning Pinot Noirs, normally thought to be Burgundies, had got every ounce of potential our of that little black grape, but one could also believe not, and that’s where I am.

 

So that’s why I wanted to separate this particular cuvee and give it a single star, personal, indelible, sentimental and subjective. Because PN 1328*, with its depth of colour, reached a further peak in oenological terms, partly because of its unusual bouquet, its balance, and its rare and incomparable length, but also everything else that gradually unfolds having a large glass in your hand with your best friends who because of it may become a little bit, my friends.

 

Beyond this inspired lucky start, PN 1328* has benefited from much excellent viticulture since 1996 coinciding with the vines reaching their thirtieth decade. The yield is naturally low and only two Burgundy barrels are produced from the 26 Ares of Pinot Noir i.e. 17.5hl/ha. The grapes are rightfully picked by hand after slowly but complete ripening. They are fed by a water supply, which is limited but skillfully released by the layer of sticky compact clay lying over a watertight chalk base. The pickers bring the grapes directly to the entrance of the Cuvier, which is 4m above the vats, which are situated in a monolithic cave beneath. There is a legend everyone talks about without actually having seen it of picking the grapes at night after a dinner of pheasant and cabbage or jugged hare followed by hard goats cheese on a salad dressed with walnut oil. I make a point of making the wine like that leaving it to nature. We sort the grapes first of all by the light of day, then de-stalk them and then plunge the berries into the dark of the cuve, which is inert with carbon dioxide. Still intact the berries continue to impart their flavour into the juice that flows from the berries with the same gentle languor. Fermentation starts spontaneously after a few days and the temperature is controlled by the surrounding turonian chalk, which had been laboriously carved out by the brave souls in the 11th century. The cuve is open and various light pigeage by feet finish the juice extraction because the ratio of solid to liquid is so high and so it doesn’t make any “chapeau de marc”.

 

In the evenings I like going by myself to the cave, where in the early days I had first done battle in those tempestuous harvests, with the fragrance of raspberry such as I never had smelled in raspberries themselves, diving into the cuve, cool or warm, step by step feeling for myself nature at its work. It never took very long but has stayed deep in my memory over the years. The wine is in cuve for about 21 days. The wine is then transferred by bucket into the new oak barrels from Vosges and Troncais and undergoes malolactic fermentation at the beginning of spring. It is bottled after 9 months without ever having been pumped or having anything added, doing it absolutely right as all Ampelidae wines.