Making real wines opens perspectives on other real-food issues. Take bread, for example : like wine, bread was traditionally made with living organisms called leaven, but for commercial reasons, for predictability and efficiency, bakers now use yeasts to make our bread. Pierre Overnoy whom we visited shortly the other day is a passionate bread maker in addition to being the inspired and passionate winemaker that we know. I learnt from him that even bakeries pretending to sell natural leaven bread actually add lab yeasts to get their bread because as I understood there is a factor of unpredictability in these living organisms known under the name of leaven...That sounds very similar to wineries which use lab yeasts because they want the wines to be ready rapidly, formatted products ready for the shelves.
Pierre keeps a pot of live culture of leaven in his home for his bread production, and he shows us here the bread and the creamy leaven, this is magical !
Pierre Overnoy gave us one of his breads, and as we told him that we were on our way to visit Jean-François Ganevat whom he knows well, he gave us another one for him, plus a third one for one of Ganevat's neighbor whom he knew was also fond of real bread...
Listening to Pierre Overnoy speaking on the subject was an awakening experience, there are many issues with real bread we feel easily connected to, and there are many relations to wine here, beginning with the fact that France, in spite of being considered the home of good bread and baguette, has fallen like all developped countries for easy-to-make industrial bread, including at our corner's gourmet bakery. Even if for economic reasons, most of us don't often buy artisan pain au levain bread (it's awfully expensive if you eat much bread every day), we long for a real bread that should be easily accessible and reasonably cheap.
As lovers of real wine, we also understand the question of leaven versus commercial yeasts, and still there are many other side issues that we don't necessarily grasp the importance of, like which variety of wheat to use, where to find it. Pierre, who seems to have understood all the facets of bread making, has singled our a producer for his weat. Also, there's the question about where to grind the grain, and from Pierre Overnoy's experience in bread making, this is a crucial question, if the wheat grain is unproperly grinded, you'll loose much of the benefits of your wheat. Pierre has his wheat prepared in a mill designed by two elderly brothers, the Astrié brothers, it's a large stone mill where the grain is grinded very slowly so as not to heat the wheat, which helps preserve what will make the future real bread so good and healthy. This type of mill is hard to find nowadays in France, but on specialized forums dealing with real bread, you can learn from where the existing ones are located. Their number is growing thanks to a movement pushing to rediscover the great breads of this country.
The type of wheat is another issue that Pierre Overnoy seems to know well. You may be aware that in France and in the EU, only certain types of seeds are allowed on the market, and that buying or selling seeds of old varieties, be it of vegetable or grain, is forbidden. There is no freedom of commerce or bio-diversity like in the United States (where selling or purchasing seeds of ancient varieties is perfectly legal), and you may be prosecuted in France for selling seeds that are not listed in the State-sanctionned official catalog. Kokopelli, a non-profit organization promoting the distribution of these ancient French varieties was sued and heavily fined by the French State and the seeds industry for their very marginal sales of authentic indigenous seeds and promotion of diversity. So, people who want to make real bread from indigenous varieties of wheat and other grains rely on all sorts of improvised connections, buying seeds, wheat or grain from organic farmers who live sometimes far where you are. Pierre Overnoy gets from example his grain from the Ferme Ronot in Chazeuil near Dijon in Burgundy. There, Bernard Ronot , who was a conventional/productivist farmer in his former life, changed course and became one of the rare farmers in France using biodynamy for his crops. He founded the group Semence Paysanne, which promotes biodiversity and fights for the right to grow and exchange ancient indigenous crop varieties in France.
Another issue for real bread is the water : you just can't use tap water in most places because it's laced with chlorine and other residues, which harm the living organisms in the leaven, so you have to find pure spring water, which is of easier access in Pupillin.
__ Pierre Overnoy Chardonnay 2008. Topped-up wine. Elegant wine with acidity. The estate has a total vineyard surface of 6 hectares, 2 hectares respectively of Poulsard, Savagnin and Chardonnay. The wine here is a blend of grapes from varied-age vines.
__ Pierre Overnoy Ploussard 2010. The name of the variety come from "plousse" or "pelosse", which means small plum or sloe. The volume of Ploussard is low this year. They blend the press juice with the vat juice. No note, sorry.
__ Pierre Overnoy Ploussard 2009. There had been hailstorms in july in 2009, which asked for a lot of work to take off the dry grapes from the clusters. Turbid wine with spicy aromas, nice substance with complexity.
__ Pierre Overnoy Savagnin 1999. Bottled 2 years ago but not yet on the market. The color is a dense gold with amber tones. Fresh wine, elegant. Very good length. Adeline says that Pierre Overnoy began to top up the Savagnin in 1985, and after a few years, they saw that this Savagnin wine still gets Vin Jaune traits with refineness.
__ Pierre Overnoy Vin Jaune. 8-10 years. The longest élevage made by Pierre was 14 years, but there is a peak in this type of wine that they try to take into account to choose the best release time.
__ Pierre Overnoy Vin de Liqueur. Made with non-fermented grape juice from 2007 blended with the marc 2006. Nice balance, sugar and bitterness, the whole with a very good acidity level.