L'Alezan De Rien 2018

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Étables, Ardèche, France
Fermented with native yeasts, unfiltered & unfined, no additional sulphites

Rémi Bonneton started working the vineyards of the Northern Rhône in the early 2000s, not tending vines or harvesting grapes, but working with his two horses, Suspens and Palynka, offering his unique services to plough the soils at some of the most coveted domaines in this part of France. After making a little of his own wine along the way, cut to 2013 and Rémi and Patricia, his wife, found their very first vineyard parcel of Syrah on the steep slopes of the Doux Valley right at the very northern tip of the Ardèche, which despite the sheer terracing is still worked à la Bonneton: by horse and plough. It’s physical, demanding work and no light undertaking - perfect for Rémi who in his previous life was a professional rower. Their domaine totals just under 2 hectares and includes another parcel close to Tournon Sur Rhône planted with Roussanne and Marsanne on a hill straddling the border to the Northern Rhône that sits opposite the iconic vineyards of Cornas and Saint-Joseph. The vines see no chemical treatments and this approach is followed into the cellar where the wines ferment spontaneously and have nothing added. As they start to work towards their ambitious visions for the future (a big conversion build for their own cellars at their farmhouse in Etables, an experimental planting of Albariño, acquiring more parcels) they buy grapes from other growers further afield to up their production.

De Rien was initially intended to become their 2018 Syrah Pet Nat, ‘Merci’ - alas, once the wine was transferred to bottle the fermentation halted... and then never kicked off again. Rather than backwards-engineer the wine, as always, Remi & Patricia were very honest about the process - c’est la vie; this is the reality of making wine using natural methods. Sometimes things don’t go according to the plan! That said, there are such things as happy accidents and De Rien can certainly be described as just that - a real juice bomb of raspberry and blackcurrant that, with the residual sugar present in the wine, comes across with the texture of an impossibly smooth fruit coulis. The acidity is still nice and high to keep it balanced, but this is most certainly a wine for those who enjoy things demi-sec