Montlouis Brut – Les Pierres en Bulles
100% Chenin Blanc grapes hand-picked when they have attained full maturity and a degree of 12.5%. The grapes are placed in 20KG plastic crates. The fruit is quickly pressed and the juice is clarified of its gross lees over one night. Rassin uses only the juice obtained from the middle of the pressing, because it is the purest and richest. The alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks spontaneously, with the native yeasts. When the residual sugar level reaches 20 grams per liter, Rassin stops the fermentation by racking and cooling the must. The young wine is then bottled with added yeast but no sugar of any kind for the 2nd fermentation in bottle. It is aged sur latte in the domaine’s cellar for 12 months. Rassin adds no sugar at the moment of degorgement and final bottling to enhance the sparkling wine’s purity, freshness and precision.
About the Producer
Originally from the Loire-Atlantic part of France, Coralie and Anthony Rassin worked in various wines regions in France and abroad before settling in the appellation Montlouis - Coralie made wines at Jaboulet and Francois Villard and Anthony worked for Pierre Gonon. They took up the challenge to run their own vineyard and winery and put their experiences to work. In late 2015, they acquired the Montlouis estate, Domaine Flamand Deletang in St Martin Le Beau in its entirety. They renamed it Domaine Les Pierres Ecrites to make a new start while also giving a nod to the prior owner, whose grandfather was a famed archeologist of prehistoric drawings on stones in North Africa. Their main cuvée was called “Les Pierres Ecrites.”
The Domaine covers 8 hectares St Martin Le Beau: 5ha in AOC Montlouis planted with 100% Chenin Blanc vines, and 3ha just outside Montlouis in the Touraine appellation planted with Gamay, Malbec, Grolleau, and Cabernet Franc. The soil is limestone clay with silex and varying amounts of sand. The vines average 40 years of age and are sloping ground. Grass is planted in every 2nd row and the topsoil in the others rows is tilled so to check the development of surface roots and no chemicals are used. The Rassins do all vineyard work by hand (debudding, leaf stripping) and are in the process of adapting their pruning methods to put less stress on the vines by letting the sap flow more evenly (an important factor due to the ongoing problem of vine mortality.) Yields are kept to a low 30 hl/ha.
The grapes are hand-harvested and transported in small crates to ensure they arrive intact. The sites are vinified separately with the natural yeasts present on the grapes. The fruit is lightly pressed and as little So2 as possible is used. There is no malolactic fermentation for the still wines; with a pH level of 3 and high acidity, it does not occur naturally.
Farming/vinification practices: organic certification is expected in 2023. The aim is to farm in the most environmentally respectful way possible while adapting to climatic challenges such as Spring frosts and Summer heat waves. The mechanical soil work is carefully calibrated, as well as the choice of rootstocks. They have planted shrubs and trees around the vines to ensure a balanced natural ambiance.
In the cellar , the practices have not changed since the beginning in 2016: manual harvesting, fermentation with native yeasts, and no inputs apart from minimal sulfites. Les Pierres Ecrites is dedicated to maximum reduction of SO2 in their wines. In general, they are more demanding than the organic parameters require. The wines are vegan.