Brochet (right) is a very interesting person. He’s a PhD
psychologist and a winegrower. He did his PhD at Bordeaux University
II, as well as doing some studies in Paris, finishing in 2000,
looking at the subject of the perception of wine – something that
fascinates me. Indeed, I first knew him through his writings, only
later realizing that he was actually making wine.
Set for a career as an academic, he grew disenchanted
with both Bordeaux and the French University system. On Bordeauex,
he says, ‘It’s an empire: if you are not born there you can’t
fit in’. And of the University system, ‘if you want to order a
pen, you have to fill in a dozen papers. It is not a meritocracy’.
So he decided to leave academia for wine growing. ‘My passion is
creating stuff’, he reveals.
He decided to get involved with Ampelidae, his own wine
project, and then to teach on the side. He currently spends four
weeks a year teaching at the Slow Food University in Pollenza,
Frédéric’s grandparents had four hectares of vines
close to Poitiers, and his father kept a 0.5 ha vineyard to make
wine for his own consumption. Frédéric took an interest, and in
1990 made wine for the family – just two barrels.
During Frédéric’s masters year, he went to Wagga
Wagga in Australia and was involved in a project on measuring
methoxypyrazine levels in wines. The Australian wine industry made
an impression on him. ‘When I came back from Australia I wanted to
make the French equivalent of Penfolds’, he recalls. This project,
which he named Ampelidae, would not have been possible in a well
known region. He began in 1995.
He makes a range of different wines. The top ones,
labelled with a single letter indicating the variety, are from
organically managed vineyards, and they are beautifully packaged,
with simple labels and a short metal caspsule reminiscent of that of
Ridge (a super-premium California producer) and more recently
Ravenswood (another Californian producer).
Some of the wines are available in the UK at Waitrose here.
Ampelidae K 2005 Vin de Pays de la Vienne
This is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
‘I’m concentrating on a full fruit wine’, says Frederic
Brochet, ‘using fully ripe grapes from a significantly cold
climate’. This is ripe and quite full with a bright nose showing
some roasted oak (70% new). The palate has lovely richness with
dense, well defined sweet dark fruits. There’s lovely gravelly,
spicy tannic structure, too. 91/100 (£11.49 Waitrose)
Ampelidae K 2006 Vin de Pays de la Vienne
Fresh, bright fruit dominates here: really supple with nice
purity of fruit. Good structure. This is a bit earthy with lovely
minerally, gravelly structure. A fresh wine. 90/100
Château des Roches Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Full yellow colour. Grassy,
herby nose with a bit of honey. The palate is quite broad with nice
herby melony fruit. A really tasty wine with some weight. 88/100
Mon Blanc NV
From the 2006 vintage, but labelled NV. A selected tank with a
specific character. Broad, rich, almost nutty nose with a reductive
lees character. The palate has a lovely broad, nutty, herby
character with some melony richness. Distinctive and full flavoured.
Brochet Pointe de Deux NV Vin de Pays de la Jardin du
2006 vintage, but this is labelled NV. Made from bought-in grapes. Amazing fresh nettley nose
shows notes of grass and mint. The palate has a rounded texture and
ripe grapefruit notes, with great purity and a touch of melony
freshness. Versatile and distinctive. 88/100
S 2005 Vin de Pays de la Vienne
Old vine Sauvignon Blanc, free-run juice, half done in barrel,
half in tank. Fine, quite complex stylish nose is tight and herby.
The palate has some toasty warmth as well as elegant, smooth fruit.
Sophisticated and quite intense with lovely ripeness. A grown-up
S 2006 Vin de Pays de la Vienne
Subtly toasty, slightly reductive nose with notes of struck
match. Lovely fruit under this, though. The palate shows dense,
taut, fresh grassy fruit and good acidity. A serious effort with
lovely savouriness. 91/100 (£9.99 Waitrose)
Wines tasted 02/08
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