Pierre Breton was very busy when we made a short visit there the other day, but he still gave us some of his time for a tasting of a few wines. As we walked through the vatroom, Pierre said a few words to a young man who was busy in the chai : it was Paul, Catherine and Pierre's son, who is 17 years old and gives a hand now and then in the winery. He seemed very concentrated and active in his work, and I even saw him some time later doing with the same attention to detail less glamorous tasks like sweeping the stairs going down to the cellar. The Bretons also have a daughter (who also helps now and then).
The Nomblot company is based in Ecuisses, a village south of Beaune in Burgundy. It has been making state-of-the-art cement vats of different shapes since 1992, using only natural elements, with the thinking that negative details in the structure of the vat (chlorine in water, steel bars, type of cement) have consequences on the wines. The egg-shaped vat, which has some resemblance with the amphorae used by winemakers in the Antiquity, wasn't made by Nomblot until 2001, when Chapoutier asked them a dolia-shaped vat like the ones you find on this page at mid-scroll. There were soon other orders from other wineries, because in addition to the pure quality of ther cement, this amphora shape is known to be very positive in regard to the exchange between the lees and the wine, and the winemakers working on biodynamy in particular were the first to take notice and make the investment. When stored in egg-shaped vats, the wine moves up in a slow circular movement thanks to the temperatures differences between the top and the bottom, keeping the lees in contact with the wine and making stirring unnecessary. When we visited Pierre Breton in 2006, they hadn't yet these egg-shaped vats and we could see in the future a cuvée made exclusively with them.
__ Domaine Breton Avis de Vin Fort 2009. Nice light wine.
__ Domaine Breton Bourgueil la Dilettante 2009, a carbonic-maceration Cabernet Franc which stayed one year in casks (old vines on gravel soil).
__ Domaine Breton Bourgueil Les Galichets 2009. Quite tannic yet.
__ Domaine Breton Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal 2008. 16 months in casks. Beautiful wine. It will be possible to taste the 2010 end of january 2011 (but they don't go the the Salon d'Angers).
__ Domaine Breton Bourgueil Nuits d'Ivresse 2008. A selection made with 5 casks (on a total of 50 casks), they made 2000 bottles with this, zero SO2 in there (the rest has 50 mg, which is very little). Very nice mouth, not very long but beatiful character. The previous vintage of Nuits d'Ivresse was picked by Eric Asimov as the second best Loire Cab-Franc deal in the U.S. (N.Y. Times page).
__ Domaine Breton Bourgueil les Perrières 2008. Bottled early october. 24 months in casks. Beautiful nose of cooked cherries, nice mouth. Pierre felt a light oxydative side (I didn't) which is going away as the bottling shock fades away.
__ Domaine Breton Chinon Beaumont 2009. Bottled in september. 40 years old vines, on limestone. A bit of reduction on the nose. Chinon wines taste sweeter, says Pierre.
__ Domaine Breton Chinon Saint Louans 2007. Comes from a nice terroir along the Vienne river not far from here. That's a very nice wine indeed, with a beautiful mouth. My pick of the day, definitely.
__ Domaine Breton Vouvray le Dilettante 2008. Dry wine. No notes.
Extract from the linked page (winemaking under the Romans) :
297. Fermented wine (vīnum) was made by collecting the mustum in huge vat-like jars (dōlia: Fig. 172). One of these was large enough to hide a man and held a hundred gallons or more. These were covered with pitch within and without and partially buried in the ground in cellars or vaults (vīnāriae cellae), in which they remained permanently. After they were nearly filled with the mustum, they were left uncovered during the process of fermentation, which lasted under ordinary circumstances about nine days. They were often tightly sealed, and opened only when the wine required attention3 or was to be removed. The cheaper wines were used directly from the dōlia; but the choicer kinds were drawn off after a year into smaller jars (amphorae), clarified and even “doctored” in various ways, and finally stored in depositories often entirely distinct from the cellars (Fig. 174). A favorite place was a room in the upper story of the house, where the wine was aged by the heat rising from a furnace or even by the smoke from the hearth. The amphorae were often marked with the name of the wine, and the names of the consuls for the year in which they were filled.