This cuvée isn’t what comes to mind when most people think of Bordeaux. Stuffy men in suits, haute cuisine, tannic reds requiring sickly new oak treatment or absurd bottle age to be approachable . . . forget all that. Bénédicte and Grégoire Hubau of Château Moulin are part of a new school of winemaking in the Bordelais, emphasizing sustainable viticulture and minimal intervention in the cellar. In this sense, the cuvée Piverts represents their most revolutionary bottling: made without added sulfur, it is a transparent reflection of Merlot grown in the limestone and clay of Fronsac, in the heart of Bordeaux’s right bank. We suggest decanting this youthful “natural wine” to best appreciate its purity of fruit and the honest expression of terroir it provides. Fun, gulpability, deliciousness—no, these are not words typically associated with Bordeaux.
Bénédicte and Grégoire Hubau do not come from winemaking families, nor did they pursue studies in enology or viticulture. Both natives of northern France, Bénédicte was a computer specialist and Grégoire a chemist. Without much ado, they decided one day to leave it all behind and start a new life as vignerons. After visiting an endless line of available properties in various regions of France, they finally came across Château Moulin Pey-Labrie, an estate in Fronsac that met their requirement for a terroir de caractère. In 1990, having mastered their new craft, they purchased a second property, Château Haut-Lariveau. Château Moulin, though not a physical château, bottles wine from both Canon-Fronsac and Fronsac.
Often considered the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux and its wines have captured the minds, hearts, and wallets of wine drinkers for centuries. For many, the wines provide an inalienable benchmark against which all other wines are measured.
Bordeaux is divided into three winegrowing regions with the city that gives the region its name in the near geographical center. The “right bank,” or the area located east of the Dordogne River, produces wines that are predominantly Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The “left bank” is located to the west of the Garonne River and produces wines dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The third region, Entre-Deux-Mers, lies between both rivers and produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Though technically in the left bank, it is worth noting the appellation of Sauternes, which produces arguably the world’s most famous sweet wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle as well.
Though many top Bordeaux wines are sold en primeur (in advance of their bottling) and often through a middleman known as a negoçiant, Kermit has always preferred to purchase directly from the winemaker. For more than three decades he has sought out small producers, who make classic Bordeaux wines and are willing to play outside the negoçiant system. This ethic has led to longstanding relationships, excellent prices, and perhaps most important—wines of great value and longevity.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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