What was the first natural wine you tasted that moved you, made you think about learning to make wine this way ?
Actually two wines:
For white wine it was « La Frileuse 2007 », 100% Romorantin variety, made by the Puzelat brothers at Clos du Tue Boeuf, in the Sologne village Les Montils, near Cour-Cheverny.
For red wine it was, « Je bois du Vin de Table, même quand il n'y a pas de table 2007 ». It was a Pineau d'Aunis 100 %, made by Pascal Simonutti at La Galetière, Touraine-Mesland.
In your first few vintages what lessons did you find the most important ?
I started officially making wine in 2010. That first year I did three cuvées. A red called « Capitalisme Rouge », 70 % Gamay and 30% Cot. A white wine, « Rue de la Soif » 100 % Sauvignon Blanc, and a Rosé Pet Nat, « Pink Bull ». An equal blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. My goal that first year was minimal intervention, zero sulphites, no filtering, no additives, and wild yeast. Being a novice, I had to deal with my impatience to see the fermentations go quickly without deviation. Many sleepless nights because I was sort of like a tight rope acrobat gliding along without a safety net underneath. The red and the Pet Nat fermented rather normally without problem. But the white took a year and a half to finish fermenting all the residual sugar. That sort of freaked me out. When the wine was finally ready to be bottled, it was fantastic !So I guess the major lessons I learned were constant observation and tasting during the fermentation process, humility, and patience.
Are there parallels between the energy and excitement you found in the Punk scene in California and the natural wine scene?
Yes definitely. In 1978 I got involved with a punk band called The Insults sort of by accident. I was friends with Brian the bass player. He asked me if I would like to try out to be the singer. Never having been in a group and not much of a musician, I said « no way ». He finally convinced me and I got hired. That taught me a major lesson of life. When you get involved in a project, what really counts is the energy and honesty you put into it. Shed your self doubts or worrying about what other people will say or think. Just be your creative self and have fun. I personally get that same high making natural living wines with the old punk rock philosophy!
How has the pandemic Covid 19 affected you?
Besides hating the idea of restricted movement and lack of liberty, I find this period quite exceptional and exalting. For the first time in recent years, humanity is being confronted with evidence it cannot control everything. The planet and all the other living species are reminding us that we are not God almighty and that we have no right to be disrespectful, foolish plunderers of a unique spot in the universe. A place that would most likely be better off if humans were to eventually become extinct!