Biodynamic Winemaking at Domaine Fouassier

Domaine Fouassier

Domaine Fouassier is one of the oldest wine growing families in Sancerre in the Loire Valley.  Combining the traditional methods that have been passed down through ten generations with those of modern biodynamic culture, the family considers the environment to be the heritage they will pass on to future generations.

One of only three domaines in Sancerre to be certified biodynamic, Domaine Fouassier believe it is best to respect the environment because the environment is ultimately their livelihood and legacy.

Environmental viticulture in the Loire

The Central Vineyards of the Loire are becoming a hotbed for environmental viticulture in France.  As one of the oldest and biggest properties in Sancerre, when Domaine Fouassier attained organic and biodynamic certification, it had a massive impact on the region as a whole.  Attaining these certifications depends not only on what is done in their own vineyard, but also the impact of how their neighbours treat their land and use chemicals and fertilisers. No vineyard is an island; for example, if a vineyard nearby sprays chemicals it can affect surrounding properties.  In effect, by focusing on sustainability Domaine Fouassier has helped others to improve their organic credentials.

Biodynamic Viticulture

However, biodynamic viticulture is about more than just banning the use of chemicals.  It is based on principles defined in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner. The dynamic depends on applying vegetal, animal and mineral matter at specific times during the annual cycle of the vines. The land is seen as an organism in its own right. It is about taking care of the soil through close attention to the health of the vines and soil.  At a basic level, it is considered a preventative “healing” of the land rather than a reactive fixing of problems through a quick fix of chemicals and machinery.

The Result of Improved Soil Quality

Domaine Fouassier believe that “the improvement of the quality of the soil by a large variety of bacteria” leads to a plant “better anchored with denser, more developed and longer roots.” This means not only a better development of the leaves and flowers but also, a deeper root means the vines have access to minerals and nutrition below the surface layer.

Jules Fouassier – An Inspiration

The inspiration for the current generation – cousins Benoit and Paul – is their great-grandfather Jules Fouassier. In 1900, he was the first person to put a single-vineyard name on a label in Sancerre, recognising the difference each terroir makes to the final wine.  Over 100 years later, Benoit and Paul have taken this to another level by focusing even more intensely on the impact of the vineyard. The results are wines that are an intense expression of the complex tapestry of soils available to the Fouassier family in Sancerre.

10th July 2012

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