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Move over Brangelina, Leo is the new Hollywood icon in French wine and he’s backing Green credentials

adVINture sustainable wine

Oscar-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has acquired an equity stake in a Champagne house. 

To combat the effects of climate change, throughout the wine industry there are many producers looking into their processes in order to become more sustainable. You may be wondering what they can do to achieve this? Here are some measures that can be undertaken in the vineyard and winery to promote environmentally-friendly wine production:

  • Organic agriculture
  • protecting biodiversity on the land
  • switching power to renewable energy sources
  • conserving & re-using water
  • eliminating air freight from supply & distribution lines

So if you want to do your bit by supporting environmental change whilst enjoying a glass of delicious wine then check out a range of our Organic producers. Here are half a dozen that we love from different French regions:

Champagne – Larmandier-Bernier

Averaging 33 years of age, Larmandier-Bernier’s 15 hectares of vineyards lie on the spectacular terroirs of the Côte des Blancs: Vertus, a 1er cru village, as well as the Grand Crus Cramant, Chouilly, Oger and Avize. According to Pierre and Sophie Larmandier, “the creation of a great Champagne, like the creation of any great wine, begins in the vineyard.” This philosophy is why they manage their vineyards biodynamically, harvesting their grapes manually at optimal ripeness to produce extraordinary expressions of each terroir.

Fermentations using natural yeasts in a mixture of stainless steel vats, wooden casks and barrels, together with long, slow aging at either Brut Nature (0g / l) or Extra Brut (2-5g / l) allows for the clearest of expressions.

Alsace – Paul Ginglinger

The Ginglinger family is deeply rooted in the history of Eguisheim. Michel is the 13th generation at the helm since he took over from his father Paul in 2000. Rigorous in the vineyard and in the cellar, he applies the many techniques encountered during his various internships at Champagne Lanson and Domaine Armand Rosseau along with his time in South Africa and Chile.

Located 5 km south of Colmar, the Paul Ginglinger estate consists of 13 hectares of vines on slopes particularly sunny, exposed to the east and south-east, at an altitude of 220 to 340 m. The vineyards are sheltered by the foothills of the Vosges Mountains and benefit from a particularly dry and hot microclimate. The subsoil is marly, slightly granite, and rests on a very stony clay soil. The wines from these terroirs are robust, powerful and defined, capable of longevity while maintaining their typicity and floral aromas. The estate is certified organic since 2018.

Châteauneuf du Pape – Vieille Julienne

Despite our already large portfolio of Châteauneuf estates, we did not hesitate when we had the opportunity to add Jean Paul Daumen’s wines to our list! These are very serious offerings, possessing a class so coveted by many other producers. With 10 hectares of vines located in the very northern part of Châteauneuf du Pape (Le Grès) and 5 hectares of Côtes du Rhône on the lieudit ‘Clavin’, Jean Paul’s wines are never crafted in the blockbuster style favoured by so many others during the past decade. Vieille Julienne’s wines are completely unique and hugely sought after!

This family owned estate has been in the hands of the Daumen clan since 1905. Jean Paul took over from his father in 1990 – the subsequent rise in quality of wine from this domaine has been outstanding. There are now 32 hectares of vineyards with an average age of the vines at around 50 years. Many are planted following a strict selection massale.

Jean Paul’s philosophy is “that the vine and the soil are the essentials”. He has therefore chosen a fully ecological viticultural approach. He has abandoned all use of chemical fertilisers and only uses sulphur very sparingly. All grapes are harvested by hand and sorted twice. Only indigenous yeasts are used. Fermentation temperature is monitored and controlled. Wines are gravity fed into barrels, where they age for 12 months after malolactic fermentation has finished. Bottling is carried out with neither fining nor filtration.

Provence – Château de Roquefort

The flamboyant and eccentric Raimond de Villeneuve has propelled this 25 hectares estate to the very top echelon of Provençal wine domaines. Benefiting from an altitude of up to 390m and old vines averaging more than 35 years, with many well over 40 years of age, Raimond produces very fresh and precise wines with a real sense of personality and unique style. The terrain includes hillsides and plateaus, forming part of the Massif Sainte Baume, which rises up to over 1,000m. The proximity to the sea ensures a fine microclimate, protecting the vines from hail and excessive humidity. A follower of biodynamic methods for many years, he captures all the sun and scents of Provence, whilst still managing to achieve elegance and subtlety.

Provence – La Bastide Blanche

Lying at the centre of the Bandol appellation, the family owned and run La Bastide Blanche was first established in 1972 in Le Castellet in the Var. Their sole focus is AOC Bandol and their sole ambition is to offer wines that express “the richness of this exceptional terroir”. Here the gentle sea breezes and the moderating effect of the Mistral temper the summer heat, endowing the fruit with sufficient acidity and pitch-perfect ripeness. Stéphane Bourret and his team have improved the estates wines’ quality beyond recognition. Despite the pressure of the many tourists ready to buy almost anything at any price, he has chosen a path of quality and hard work. The entire 28 hectares estate is run using biodynamic principles. Divided into individual plots, mostly on hillside terraces, the vines benefit from a mixed soil profile comprising stones, gravel, clay & limestone. The highly fractured subsoil allows for superb drainage, contributing to a natural control of yields, whilst also encouraging the production of fine, concentrated wines that are particularly suitable for ageing. The results are astounding with many of their wines being awarded the highest accolades in both the national and international wine press. ‘Estagnol’ is produced from their best vineyards and improves after 3 or 4 years cellaring.

The Bandol Blanc combines aromatic complexity with appetising freshness. The malolactic fermentation is not systematically encouraged. The Rosé is produced by direct pressing, as well as a 24-hour ‘macération pélliculaire’. The reputation of the appellation is built upon the stature of the red wines, offering a haunting bouquet of liquorice, spice, tobacco and briary fruits. The firm tannic structure of its youth evolves beautifully with time in the bottle to reveal a palate of finely grained texture allied to measured power and marked persistence. The top cuvée, ‘Estagnol’ is fashioned from 30-year-old vines planted in La Bastide Blanche’s very best vineyard plots. The blend, typically, is made up of 80% Mourvèdre and 20% Grenache, which is then aged in 40hl oak barrels for up to 24 months. Benefiting from 3 or 4 years cellaring, it reveals a bouquet redolent of wild blackberries and further enhanced by the southern ‘garrigue’ influence hinting at rosemary and thyme characters. With time, more tertiary aromas of leather, tar and game come to the fore. The palate is structured yet refined with a graphite/mineral edge, leading to a fine persistent finale.

Roussillon – Domaine Gardies

Representing the 7th generation of his family to work with vines and wine, Jean Gardiés owns some of the finest vineyards (35 hectares in total, divided into a myriad of different parcels) on both the chalky-clay soils of Vingrau and the black schist and limestone outcrops of Espira de l’Agly, above Perpignan. One of the great, yet relatively unsung French producers, he is quietly making wines that represent his identity and interpretation of his terroir. Mixing traditional and modern styling, his wines have great intensity and definition with strong personality. The whites exhibit lovely mineral touches; whilst the reds have all the Roussillon power balanced by freshness and, again, classic mineral character. His offerings are classic Catalan wines that express perfectly the rugged intensity and beauty of this fabulous region. Jean’s 30 years of experience add to his innate ability to craft wines that are distinctive and as authentic as any wines can be. “To live in harmony with rough and wild nature, to understand that everything comes from the soil and from the permanent attention that this brings” is Jean Gardiés philosophy.

Jean set up a new domaine HQ in 2007 (Mas Las Cabes) in the open, accessible spaces of Espira de l’Agly, having decamped his winemaking operations from the family hillside village of Vingrau. However, he did retain all his wonderful old vine vineyards from his former holdings. There, in Vingrau, the numerous parcels of vines are a mixture of valley floor & high slopes, the highest plots reaching up to 350m altitude. It is here on these high-level plots that Jean grows vines mainly for his white wines in order to ensure freshness alongside the vigour, inducing minerality. Parcels found towards the warmer valley floor & lower slopes comprise his red wine vineyards, ensuring great ripeness, intensity and power. All grapes are hand harvested. He masters his craft through his natural feeling for & understanding of these intriguing, yet unforgiving terroirs, seeking out balance & finesse allied to structure & complexity. Jean’s ongoing quest for additional refinement in his wines has been aided by his preference to work organically, to ferment with natural yeasts, to extract less and to harvest earlier.

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