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Deboutbertin | Anjou

Deboutbertin | Anjou

Wine has everything to do with love as this couple proves.

When Stéphanie Debout and Vincent Bertin took a biking trip through Anjou and discovered natural wines at hip bistros in Angers, they were smitten. They decided to leave their engineering profession in Paris and move to the Loire.

A new life as wine growers began but they had to learn how to do it from scratch. Fortunately, they were mentored by the best in the region, counting Cyril Le Moing, Julien Delrieu, Olivier Cousin and Mark Angéli, among others. This network of support, particularly Angéli’s assistance, was instrumental in the establishment of their domaine in 2012.

Deboutbertin owns 10 hectares of land in Faye d’Anjou and Beaulieu-sur-Layon of which 3.5-ha are vineyards. Biodiversity is a key philosophy for the couple, so they let their vines remain where they were, between patches of meadows, orchard and hedgerows.

Chenin Blanc, Pineau d’Aunis, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc — mostly bush vines between 45 to 90 years of age — are nurtured following organic principles. These old vines explain why yield is always very low and how, despite the nearly hands-free approach to vinification, Deboutbertin turns out effortlessly intense wines irrespective of vintage.

Sustainability is ingrained in the life of this young family. The couple is noticeably fond of their main work partner, Anatole, a gentle and handsome Percheron horse who perform all the vineyard plowing. Consumption of fossil fuel is a major concern, so Stéphanie and Vincent consciously avoid utilising machinery in their vineyard. To achieve maximum efficiency, the cellar is designed to regulate temperature naturally despite being overground. There are no engines or temperature controllers requiring electricity in sight.

Indeed, low-tech rules the cellar. Grapes are pressed in whole bunches — the whites using a basket press while the reds are trodden by foot — and the juices are moved entirely by gravity. Spontaneous fermentations occur in old barrels and the wines would then be aged for a minimum of 12 months. Deboutbertin is strictly a ‘zero-zero’ operation: nothing is ever added before, during and after élevage.

The results are exceptional and expressive. Every cuvée is full of crystalline energy and terroir-driven minerality. They are immensely drinkable, but also possess an understated substance that promises to reward cellaring. Indeed one hour or so in the glass will show a welcome evolution and escalating tension, boding well for the future. These are gorgeously pure wines we thirst for constantly — dangerous, given how little is produced. Stéphanie and Vincent make wines for people to drink. We now can testify they have more than accomplished their goal.

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