When Jérôme Bressy created Domaine Gourt de Mautens in 1996, Rasteau was a fairly obscure Côtes-du-Rhône Villages but with his […]Keep Reading
When Jérôme Bressy created Domaine Gourt de Mautens in 1996, Rasteau was a fairly obscure Côtes-du-Rhône Villages but with his family’s old vines and their naturally low yields he burst on the scene garnering attention (along with Andre Roméro at Domaine la Soumade) for the potential of the terroirs of Rasteau. These were excitingly complex and novel wines coming from a place once only regarded for the production of vin doux naturel. Barely 23 years old with the release of his first vintage, Jérôme had benefitted from a decision that his father, Yves Bressy, had made in 1989 – the conversion of the family’s vineyards to organic farming. This allowed Jérôme to start Gourt de Mautens with healthy vines and living soils. In 2008 Jérôme took the additional step of completing the conversion to biodynamics, and earning certification from DEMETER.
Gourt de Mautens takes its name from the local dialect. Gourt is “a place where the water flows”, and Mautens is the word for a “storm or bad weather.” Together it is the place where the water flows when it storms. This unique part of the landscape ensures that even in the driest of years, the vines on the property have plenty of moisture in the clay subsoils deep underground. The top soil is chalky and rocky clays and marls. Poor in nutrients, these soils result in very low yields averaging 10-15 hl/ha. Favoring an integrated approach to cultivation and one that honors the traditions of his ancestors, Jérôme’s vineyards are surrounded by olive and fruit trees. Most of his vines are head-pruned and are between 30 and 100 years old. There is a complex tableau of aspects and orientations matched to a wide selection of varieties including Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Terret Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, Picpoul Gris. If a vine should die then it is uprooted and replaced with a massale selection suited to the site thereby preserving the genetic diversity of the vineyard. So when the appellation decided to severely limit which varieties were permitted in AOC Rasteau, Jérôme decided to leave rather than change the makeup of his wines.
His dedication to preserving the genetic diversity in his vineyards isn’t the only thing that sets Jérôme apart from his neighbors in Rasteau. Once a bastion of modern, dense and rich wines, Jérôme has evolved in his approach to winemaking taking as cues and inspiration the wines of Château Rayas, the late Henri Bonneau and Lalou Bize-Leroy. With his heritage vines he seeks purity and complexity but always underpinned with a distinctive sense of place – all things which AOC authorities seem eager to punish these days. Are these wines “typical” Rasteau? Hardly, but that says more about Rasteau than Jérôme Bressy.
There are three wines produced at Domaine Gourt de Mautens, a white, a rosé and a red wine. Everything is harvest by hand into small bins with the first sorting made in the vineyard. When the bins arrive at the end of the row and before they are loaded onto a truck for transport to the cellar the head of the harvesting team sorts the grapes a second time. A third sorting happens at the cellar door ensuring that only the best grapes make it into the fermentation tanks and vats. The white and rosé are pressed, allowed to settle and then are moved to tanks for a spontaneous fermentation. The reds are crushed and fermented in tronconic oak vats where fermentation beings with indigenous yeast. Depending on the variety, the wines are aged in tank, concrete vats, foudres or demi-muids. After aging the final blends are made and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.