Bruno Allion has recently retired - his final vintage was 2016, but he helped the new owners in 2017, and still guides them if necessary. I am excited to continue working with them both (Domaine la Taupe and Les Jardins de Theseiis).
Bruno is from a family of winemakers, and started Domaine de Pontcher back in 1981. The Domaine is (was) 13ha in size, with parcels in and around the tiny village of Thésée. He began by selling his grapes to a local co-op, but then decided to make a small amount of wine on the side. In 2007, he stopped working with the co-op, but still sold some of his grapes to other like-minded vignerons.
Bruno began converting his vineyards to organic back in 1995, then moved to biodynamics in 1997 (he is fully certified by Demeter). He worked with and shared his knowledge amongst other like-minded vignerons in the area, such as Noella Morantin, Paul and Corinne Gillet, Joël Courtault, Laurent Saillard and Julien Pineau.
I first visited Bruno’s vineyards in November 2015. It was an incredible experience, as I had never witnessed any vineyards quite like them – there was a real presence of energy, almost like we were inside an orb of some sorts. It’s a strange concept, but the place was buzzing. There were wild flowers and herbs everywhere, many trees, birds, bees, insects, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. The place was alive, and nature was in harmony. This was a stark contrast to other vineyards we had seen on the drive there – those with dry brown lifeless soil, and no life whatsoever. I had first tasted Bruno’s wines earlier that year in January, and now I had an understanding of why they were so alive and energetic – it all starts in the vineyards! They are extremely beautiful sites, and the soils are a mix of clay, silex and limestone. All grapes are picked by hand, and sorted manually too.
Bruno made his wine as naturally as possible. There are no additions of any sort, and he hasn’t used any sulfites since 2005 – it was Thierry Puzelat who convinced him that he didn’t need sulfites. Élevage can be for up to 3 years, and because the cellar is underground, it is cool, and ferments are very slow – sometimes even stopping in Autumn and then restarting in the Spring. Everything is bottled by gravity as well, and there is no fining or filtration. And, to see how clean he is in the cellar – I love this, because it shows in the wines as well.