Photo: Buzet's Delphine Leuillet
Among the many French wineries at this year’s Vancouver
International Wine Festival, chances are that the least known was Les Vignerons
Some of its wines are listed on Quebec
Through local agents, the winery is making an effort to get into markets in
There are at least a couple of reasons why it deserves to
succeed. First, it is one of the most progressive co-operative wineries I have
ever encountered. Secondly, it has a red wine with no added sulphur that will
be a godsend to those who attribute headaches to sulphur in red wine.
The Buzet appellation is in southwestern France
in the general region of such better
known appellations as Cahors, Madiran and Armagnac
The appellation is only 2,000 hectares in size, about equal in size to the
Oliver/Osoyoos vineyards in the Okanagan.
About 95% of the Buzet production goes to Les Vignerons de
Buzet, the co-operative that was organized in 1953. “We are like a monopoly of
the Buzet appellation,” says Delphine Leuillet, the Buzet export manager who
represented the winery at the festival.
growers began working toward appellation status shortly after forming the
co-operative and won the AOC status (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in 1973.
the appellation is south of Bordeaux,
it is hardly surprising that the vineyards grow similar varieties. Merlot
comprises about half of the red plantings; Cabernet Franc accounts for 26%,
Cabernet Sauvignon for 22% and Malbec for much of the rest. The white varieties
are primarily Sémillon (70%) and Sauvignon Blanc (30%).
wines, however, often command much lower prices because the appellation is far
less well known. “We have the Bordeaux
quality at very attractive prices,” Delphine suggests. The Buzet co-operative
produces between 12 million and 14 million bottles a year. The home market
consumes 60% of those wines.
is worth supporting because of the winery’s growing commitment to sustainable
viticulture. During the past five years, the growers have reduced significantly
the use of chemicals to ward off diseases in the vineyards. No treatments are
applied any longer as a matter of routine. Increasingly, natural and
alternative methods are applied. In 2012, for example, they stopped using
anti-botrytis chemical sprays, adopting instead vineyard practices that enable
the growers to avoid botrytis (rot) in the first place.
a growing number of growers around the world, those of Buzet now make a
conscious effort to foster biodiversity in the vineyards. Sometimes, that is a
simple as letting grass grow between the vines to promote diverse flora and
fauna in the vineyards. There are ongoing efforts to repopulate the vineyards
with protected species, including birds. Of course, these keep the insect pests
in balance, again reducing the need to spray chemicals.
the winery, Buzet also has shown innovation. The wine with no added sulphur is
an example. “This is a concept wine,” Delphine said while pouring it during a
trade tasting at the wine festival. It contains a mere seven milligrams per
litre of sulphur, which was a natural by-product of fermentation.
conventional winemaking, sulphur is usually added to preserve wines from
premature oxidation. The sulphur might range anywhere from 30 mg, when it would
not be perceptible, to 100 mg where an experienced taster might get a whiff.
Reducing the sulphur content is a general trend in winemaking, made possible by
the cleanliness of modern winemaking. Buzet has removed a lot of sulphur from
its other wines and claims to be somewhere between a third and a quarter of the
as Buzet’s no added sulphur wine is called, is a delicious, easy drinking red.
are notes the four other wines that Delphine also had at the festival.
Red Badge Merlot Cabernet 2010 (estimated
$14.95). This wine, already a general listing in Ontario, is a soft fruity red with flavours
of cherry and black berry. 88.
Le Lys Dry White 2012 (estimated
$16.99). The name means lily. It is a blend of 60% Sémillon and 40% Sauvignon
Blanc. It is a crisp and refreshing white, with appealing fruity aromas and
flavours of citrus and tropical fruit. 89.
Baron D’Ardeuil Dry White 2012 (estimated $21.99). This is a
50/50 blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc aged eight months in oak. There is
citrus in the aromas and on the palate, with a satisfying weight on the palate
and crisp finish. 90.
Baron D’Ardeuil Red 2010 (estimated
$21.99). This is a red Bordeaux
blend from old vines, aged half in new oak and half in more neutral oak. There
are notes of vanilla and red fruits on the nose, following with flavours of
black berry and black currant and a touch of liquorice on the finish. 89.