La Deuse is a memory of times past when many wines’ alcohol levels struggled to reach 10 degrees. Whole bunches in a sealed vat for two weeks semi-carbonic maceration before pressing. Fermentation and ageing in fibreglass, 20mg/l SO2 total – addition pre-bottling around April the following year. 1.2ha of mondeuse planted straight into the hard limestone bedrock, a poor soil with not much topsoil resulting in ripe grapes with low alcohol and high acids. Persan adds a little tannic structure and intense red fruits to the typical mondeuse aromas of violets, black fruits and pepper. Very sappy, racy fruit, with a wonderful texture and real digestibility. An iconic and sought-after Savoie bottling.
Gilles Berlioz has an unconventional background for a (now iconic) grower. He wanted to live a rural life and first tried cultivating flowers, then breeding vines, but couldn’t make a living, so instead worked as a builder. After losing two fingers in an accident he recovered in his hometown of Chignin and (surrounded by his family's vines) decided to give winemaking a try.
Settling down in Chignin with his wife Christine in 1990, he gradually built up his holdings to 8ha of primarily rented vines 'en fermage' (5ha) whilst working as a landscaper.
Increasingly unhappy with using chemicals in their vineyards and with the compaction caused by too much tractor use, Gilles and Christine embraced organic practices in the late 1990s, with certification following in 2002. It was at this point that Gilles became obsessed with making top-class wines – he moved towards biodynamic viticulture and reduced the holdings to a more manageable 6ha, the other 2ha are rented to his cousin Adrien Berlioz and other young vignerons in the area.
A little like Cyril Fhal in Roussillon, Gilles and Christine look after the vines as though they were flowers in their back garden, all the vineyards are now fully worked by hand, sometimes helped by horses on steep slopes. During the busy spring and summer months, the couple is helped by a team of seven employees (for 6ha!).
In 2016 the Berlioz changed the name of the estate to Domaine Partagé translating as the 'shared domaine', reflecting the years of human encounters with workers, vignerons and customers, all of whom have helped the domaine to progress to where it is today: one of the most iconic in Savoie and France. Nowadays Domaine Partagé shares a harvest team with Pascal Quenard, Adrien Berlioz, and sell one-fourth of their grapes to young vignerons providing a helping hand as they start.
Winemaking has evolved too, with Gilles cutting out all use of oak in 2006 for fibreglass, and recently moving to élevage on fine lees in horizontal fibreglass eggs. "Why horizontal? That's how you find them in nature, don't you? I like the natural stirring of the lees and the texture they bring to the wines when laid down horizontally." Sulphur use has decreased to current total levels of around 30mg/l for the whites and 20mg/l for the reds.
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