I have seen a lot of vineyards in my relatively short career, but this one was one of the most remarkable. Flint on flint.
Back in 2009, Domaine Michel Redde (Thierry and his two sons Sébastien and Romain), decided that they wanted to produce a remarkable vineyard. In their region, Pouilly-Fumé, silex (flint) is a very highly prized terroir, and although people talk about gun flint in Pouilly-Fumé, linked to this soil, it’s not all that common.
So they took an abandoned flint quarry in Tracy-sur-Loire, just over the river from Sancerre, Les Champs des Froids. First of all, they had to clear the vegetation. Then, the hard work of preparing the ground to plant in began.
It involved huge construction vehicles and dynamite, and then to actually put vines in the ground required the use of a long crowbar like tool – the Barre à Mine, which became the name for this cuvée. Each year, they planted a little bit more. To plant half a hectare required the manual removal of 300 tons of large flint. The vines were planted at a density of 10 000 per hectare.
The first vintage was 2014. This really is a remarkable-looking vineyard: all you can see is flints. ‘It’s like the Châteauneuf-du-Pape of flint,’ jokes Sébastien. He says they haven’t worked out how much this has all cost. It’s a labour of love, and a celebration of a remarkable terroir. The first wines are just lovely, and very distinctive. When the vines have some age, this will be a stunning vineyard!
Here’s a film of the vineyard:
Domaine Michel Redde Pouilly-Fumé Barre à Mine 2015
Complex and detailed with lovely tangerine, lemon and pear fruit. Very stony and mineral with a transparent personality. There’s freshness, but also some of the richness of the vintage here. Very textural. 94/100
Domaine Michel Redde Pouilly-Fumé Barre à Mine 2016 (from cask)
Lively, expressive and bright with tangerine and subtle herbs. Distinctive, showing nice purity. Highly mineral with a savoury core, as well as expressive fruit.