Les Grangeons de l’Albarine
Based out on the famed slopes of Bugey, perhaps best known for the dry and semi sweet ‘Bugey Cordon’ sparkling wines is Luc Bauer, residing in the tiny village of Argis in Bugey. Interestingly enough there isn’t a sparkling wine in sight in Luc’s cellar.
Luc is deeply committed to biodynamics and farming. He was trained as an agricultural engineer but over time found his love for vines and a career in winemaking took over. Before settling in Bugey he worked with the likes of Domaine de la Soufrandière (Bret Brothers), Philippe Jambon in Beaujolais as well as in Canada. In his spare time he also works for the Association des Producteurs Bio du Rhône et de la Loire whose aim is to help winegrowers to convert to organic farming and viticulture, a goal he is deeply passionate about.
The estate of Grangeons de l’Albarine consists of nearly 2.5 ha of vineyards spread over several sites. 1.2 ha are worked on the incredibly steep slope of Argis (pictured above) and divided into two parcels, the Chateau, and Paradis. These vines are nearly 50 years old on a limestone base and planted to Chardonnay, Rousette and Monduse. In addition, a 0.5 ha 50 year old plot called Combernand, “La Cluse des Peintres” was taken over in 2014 in nearby Rossillon, with three grape varieties: Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligoté. This site has a gentler east-facing slope and is planted to pebbly soils. In 2015 Luc added what he now regards as his most prized site 0.4 ha of vines in St Sorlin en Bugey. The site named “Clos de Beauregard” sits on a hillside overlooking the Rhone, with 60-year-old vines of Gamay and Altesse planted over rocky shards of limestone. Finally a small plot of Mondeuse and Chasselas was also taken again in 2015, with 0.5 ha of 20-year-old vines that have a denser limestone over clay soils.
The array of vineyards that Luc has assembled is all worked by hand. They are very tough sites and we were in awe of how hard he works and how challenging the site must be to manage. All of these sites have been converted to organic farming and are certified. Luc employs biodynamic principles to his vineyards and hopes to certify over the next few seasons. In the cellar Luc’s desire is to produce wines that speak of the terroir of Bugey. As such his winemaking style is very neutral. He direct presses his whites to old wooden vessels, his reds he keeps on skin in stainless tanks for a short time before pressing to the same old wooden barrels. All wines are wild fermented and remain unfiltered and unfined, instead being racked a few times before bottling for purity and clarity. He adds small amounts of sulphur for each cuvee where he sees a need for it.
The wines of Les Grangeons de l’Albarine are as wholesome as they come. They speak deeply of the forgotten region of Bugey and show absolute purity through each cuvee. We have not been as excited about a new producer for a while.