Meet The Winemaker: Jérémie Batard, Muscadet
Bonjour Jérémie, where are you from?
I’m from the West of France. I was born, I grew up, and I currently live in the Nantes vineyards. At the western end of the river “la Loire”, close to the Atlantic Ocean and between the Sèvre and Maine rivers in the heart of the Muscadet appellation.
When I was younger, I dreamed of leaving, of leaving this place, of discovering other countries and other cultures. Elsewhere, everything seemed more attractive and simpler. At the time, working the land seemed to me too hard, too exclusive.
So I did it. I left to discover my country, and then Europe, and the world.
I’ve been back for a few years now. I’m back in my native village where I’m renovating my future home.
As I moved away, I realized the importance of my roots.
What do you enjoy in life?
The simple things, being with my family, walking by the river, I love the smell of Spring and the birds singing along with it.
I like the smell of simmering dishes,
I like to go to the ocean, fish at low tide, and share all this with friends.
I like to look at the horizon.
I like surfing and sleeping at night in my secret places.
I like to go to the market and eat fresh produce, tomatoes, asparagus, raw fish….
I like to have drinks on the terrace and it is certainly the first thing I will do at the end of the confinement!
I like live shows, street theatre and music.
JEREMIE, HIS WORK, HIS VINES
When did you decide to return to the family estate?
In 2009, after 2 years of traveling, I realized that what I was looking for was right at the starting point: my family, my land! At first, to give a hand, and as I got more and more involved I realized that I was really attached to these vines and this place.
What do you like about the Muscadet region?
The living environment is pleasant and dynamic, ocean and rivers are nearby. There is no lack of cultural events, we have a lot of good bars and restaurants. There are also many producers, fishermen, market gardeners, farmers, bakers and as many quality products.
The region is a good match for our wines. I like this simple image of our vineyard and our wines: popular, convivial, the spirit of the “guinguette” and oyster wine, table wine.
The city of Nantes and the banks of the Loire are without complex, one observes the simple joy of being together, picnics and walks.
Why did you choose to convert the vineyard to organic viticulture?
Each person is free to live their life as they wish. However, it seemed obvious to me that if I decided to work in farming, my way of growing would be organic.
First of all, I had to convince my father because there is an important technical constraint for this conversion: there is the risk of taking 3 years to clean up the soil. This time was necessary and allowed us to work on ourselves and on the vines. My father quickly overcame his fears, trusting me, and to do the job on my own.
In terms of tasting, I was also very keen to express the richness of our terroirs and organic farming seemed obvious to me.
The ecological aspect is also very important. I am thinking of my health, that of my family and that of my neighbourhood.
Which vintage did you like to vinify?
Every year that passes I take more and more pleasure in making wine.
We have one chance a year, we think about it all year round so when the time comes it’s very exciting.
The 2014 vintage was the first one, it’s special to me, and it was a success.
JÉRÉMIE, HIS VINES, HIS VINEYARDS
Is Melon de Bourgogne early or late to harvest?
Melon de Bourgogne is quite early. With climate change this is becoming more and more true. When I was young, the harvest took place at the end of September and beginning of October.
For this year 2020 the warm and early spring forces us to be ready for mid-August!
Do you vinify Cru Muscadet wines ?
Since 2019, I’m working on 2 crus. So we will have to wait until 2021 to start tasting them. These are the crus: Monnières Saint Fiacre and Château Thébaud. It is necessary to wait two years of maturing on lees required by the appellation.
The cru Monnières Saint Fiacre : It is located in the middle of the hillsides on the left bank of the Sèvre. My parcel is located right next to the Moulin de la Gustais (Old Windmill). The soil is sloping, fine textured, fairly easy to work, sandy loamy, medium depth on alterations (Gneiss decomposition).
After 24 months of ageing, the particularity of Monnières Saint Fiacre on tasting is the fleshy side, its creamy texture and the subtle bitterness on a refreshing finish. On the aroma side, you find citrus fruits, orange blossom and balsamic notes.
The Château Thébaud Cru: My parcel is located on a hillside on the edge of Maine, at the top of the cliff of an old granite quarry. The surrounding landscape is very pleasant and wooded. The soil is stony and sandy and easy to work, it is shallow and the subsoil is composed of granite.
On tasting, the Château Thébaud cru is very aromatic (fennel, liquorice) in the mouth, it is well-balanced and tight with a lot of finesse. The maturing is longer, 36 months.
I age my Oxymore cuvé as if it were a Cru. I give it the same attention and the same work. The plot is located not far from the estate on the outskirts of the village of l’Inlière. The soil is shallow, and located on a small fault made up mainly of gabbro. This wine is aged for 24 months.
On the palate we note a very characteristic tension, a nice length, menthol, lemony, smoky and very mineral notes on the nose. Oxymore requires long months of ageing before expressing its potential. A great wine for laying down!
THE WINES OF BATARD LANGELIER
Do you adapt the winemaking process to the wines in your range?
The estate’s wines are all vinified in the same way. Great importance is given to the work in the vineyard, I am one of those who think that wine is made in the vineyard and I pay particular attention to the quality of my grapes.
Vinification is done in a parcel-by-parcel fashion, using more and more indigenous yeast and with a minimum of SO2. All my tanks are made of glass and concrete and are underground: typical muscadet and ideal for maturing on lees. The maturing time differs according to the cuvées and the plots.
Where does this richness of expression of Melon de Bourgogne come from in your different wines?
I am lucky enough to have inherited the vines worked by my father and grandfather before him. My father has always had great esteem for Melon de Bourgogne and we have an estate that includes plots with different types of soil: decomposed granite on deep soils for the Polaris cuvée, gneiss for the Metaphore cuvée, Gabbro that can be found at greater depths.
On Didascalie, the Gabbro are at a depth of 40/60 cm and the wines always have both a beautiful minerality and salinity. What is amusing is to see every year this aromatic complementarity of two parcels that we use for the Didascalie cuvée. One always gives wines with a very present salinity and the other one gives aromas of citrus fruits, yellow and green citrus. Didascalie is a blend of these two parcels in equal parts. Every year, the blend is perfectly harmonized.
Oxymore on the other hand also comes from vines planted on gabbro but almost at the surface. The result in the wines is a different complement. Oxymore is our “cuvée de garde”, which stays 2 years on fine lees. When you taste Oxymore during ageing after 6 months, the acidity is very marked, the wine needs more time to round out, but then, after 24 months of ageing, it is both a wine with tension and richness. Everything is very balanced.
Metaphore on the Gneiss will never give the lemony or salty notes as present as in Didascalie. Here on Gneiss, the wines are rounder, as soon as you taste them we are surprised by this smoothness. The aromas are those of peaches.
Polaris comes from young vines, this cuvée brings out the varietal notes of the Melon de Bourgone, this is also what we are looking for in this cuvée: a wine that is easy to drink, very fresh with notes of exotic fruits.
And so the whole range comes from this diversity of soil because I look for the same degrees of maturity of the grapes at harvest time and I vinify them in the same way.
In Muscadet, the wines are left on lees several months after the alcoholic fermentation. What is the contribution of this maturing process to your wines?
At Batard Langelier, the wines are aged on lees by tradition. It is a practice that tends to improve the quality and stability of our wines but also to highlight our different terroirs.
It is also important to know that my Melon de Bourgogne does not usually undergo malolactic fermentation. The acidity is too low and it never starts (except on the cuvée Métaphore from vines on Gneiss).
Ageing on lees and regular batonage give our Muscadet more aromatic complexity and improve the sensation on the palate. After several months of maturing the aromas are revealed, bringing roundness and length in the mouth. Our Muscadet, whatever the cuvée, are aged on their lees until bottling. The maturing process lasts from 6 to 36 months depending on the cuvée.
Polaris is the wine with a shorter maturing period of 6 to 8 months, whereas the Crus and Oxymore remain 24 months on their lees.
What is the ageing potential of a Muscadet?
The Muscadet terroirs contain real nuggets in terms of fine, complex white wines that can be kept for a long time. Ageing on lees for several months or even several years increases its ageing potential.
For example, the Muscadet from the Gabbro soils that are matured 36 months on lees can easily be kept for more than 10 years in bottle. We are surprised by the cleanliness, the fresh and straightforward palate, and the liveliness that is always present. With time, the finish becomes long, complex and very nuanced.
The work of the soil and the parcel-based vintages allow us to express the essence of our varied terroirs and to offer a range. Every day, I marvel at the richness of our terroirs and the expression of our one and only grape variety, the Melon de Bourgogne.
Have you tasted cellared / aged Muscadet?
Unfortunately, the reputation of Muscadet as a “wine to be drunk young” has been very much to our disadvantage. Today the ageing potential of our wines is proven. Luckily the older vignerons have always cellared their vintage Muscadet wines, and thanks to them I have had the opportunity to taste them and the surprise is always the same; this lively, frank attack and a freshness that allows us to reveal the aromas of time with an ever-present liveliness that leaves a balance between freshness and complex flavours in the mouth.
Susceptible to prejudices, well-made Muscadet is, and always has been, a wine that can be kept.
If the iodized side disappears with time the freshness persists and that is our signature!
What do you like in a wine?
I would tend to say dry white wines like the little Chenin treasures from the Loire Valley, but I’m quite open-minded, I don’t have a predefined taste. I know if I like a wine when I taste it, I’m curious, I like work well done, I like my profession, I like wine, I’m an epicurean.
What are the specialities of the region that go well with your wines?
For a Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie, oysters of course!!! Those from Brittany have my preference, but also grilled sardines from Saint Gilles Croix de Vie on the barbecue when returning from fishing.
The diversity of our Muscadet allows us to match them with pike-perch or eel (a must in the Loire). The vintages go marvellously with fish but also with white meat such as Challans chickens. The Saint Jacques scallops, the sea bass, the Langoustines of Guilvinec, the Saint Pierre; the shellfish food-pairings are as diversified as our Muscadets.
I’m also surprised by the pairing of the Cuvée Oxymore 2009 with a piece of Abondance cheese, not local but perfect, just like the Cuvée Didascalie with Japanese food (sushi, maki, sashimi…)
We have also made cultural agreements with our cuvée that I invite you to discover on our website.