Catherine & Gilles Vergé
Catherine and Gilles Vergé are among the most serious and passionate campaigners for natural wine I have met and they are, unequivocally, producing some of the greatest chardonnay on earth.
They are driven by their commitment to producing wines with zero additives and farming with with as much sensitivity as possible. They are the current president (Catherine) and vice-presidents (Gilles) of Les Vins S.A.I.N.S.
My first meeting with Catherine and Gilles lasted hours. We tasted a full range of wines, over many vintages. I decided to work with Catherine and Gilles from the first wine I tasted. The quality of this range of chardonnays is riveting. Today, Catherine and Gilles farm 3 hectares of old vine Chardonnay around the village of Vire. The soils here are a mix of active clay and limestone. They've been farming here since the '80s and the vines for the Vielles Vignes parcel are now over 135 years old.
In the winery, fruit is sorted, pressed, racked after 24h hours, fermented and watched diligently for at least 4 years before being run in to bottle. Catherine and Gilles are very firm believers in allowing a wine to go through several seasons of elevage, therefore allowing active bacteria to perform all natural conversions, before the wine goes to bottle. These wines are very stable and are of unbelievable quality. The palate length and balance are quite extraordinary.
Walking through the vineyards and discussing bio-diversity and nitrogen levels with Gilles is a true education. Such is his preference for slow fermentations and the maximum possible expression of terroir, he avoids managing the flora amongst the vines in a way that encourages higher nitrogen levels in the soil. He explained to me on a recent visit (October 2016) that while he, of course, wants his topsoil to be as healthy as possible he prefers to have less natural compost by way of grasses lignifying so that the roots have no choice but to descend vertically - thus extracting more minerality and being more expressive of the (phenomenal) terroir. He is happy for his fermentations to take two years and he refuses to put any wine to bottle or on to the market before it's ready.
In fact, while tasting through the current releases on my last visit, Gilles And Catherine opened a bottle of their soon to be released 2002 L'Ecart. Every wine from this site is monumental but the 2002, after 14 years of elevage in tank and bottle, had blossomed in to maybe the greatest wine I have ever experienced. It's a truly invigorating, conversation stopping thunderclap and exemplifies what can be produced through a brilliant understanding of agriculture and an unwavering determination to do a job well.
In short, Gilles and Catherine are making some of the most rewarding and remarkable wines in Europe and it is with great joy and pride that we present them in Australia.