Jerome Guichard / Domaine Sauveterre
I left my first meeting with Jerome Guichard deeply impressed.
I had tasted a delicious range of wines, seen two very, very healthy vineyards and met a vigneron obsessed by microbial diversity and soil health.
Prior to the meeting I had big expectations. I had read great reports on the wines and, after all, this was, until recently, the domaine of the legendary Guy Blanchard. The meeting and the wines exceeded my expectations.
Jerome was a landscape artist prior to becoming a vigneron and his love of plants is totally apparent. Yet it is his understanding of bacteria that is even more impressive. He understands yeast immensely and his current work, exploring the potential for even greater life and diversity beneath the soil has given him a reputation as one of the leading farmers in the region.
He farms three small parcels of chardonnay around the village of Montbellet, and one small parcel of gamay, on the excellent slope further south in the village of Leynes, that is shared with Phillippe Jambon and Pierre Boyat.
HIs winemaking is delicate. The reds are not macerated for very long. Jerome favours fruit and fleshiness over minerality through extended skin contact and the wines are deliciously pulpy as a result. For the whites, Jerome is a master at using the anti-oxidative qualities of lees contact to retain aromas and flavours of fruit. The whites are very mineral (there is a great deal of clay in these soils)
On the day of our first meeting, after finishing lunch, we visited a couple of Jerome's vineyards. We initially visited his beloved parcel Bouchat. We walked up and down a number of rows and Jerome paused and then stressed to me that the vines in this parcel have a very real emotion - that the life within the vineyard, through years and years of excellent farming, is almost tactile. I looked around and couldn't help but agree. He really is an excellent farmer.