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Domaine du Bouscat, a Bordeaux Wine which does justice to its Appellation

Domaine du Bouscat, a Bordeaux Wine which does justice to its Appellation

E. Tresmontant - 2010-02-01

François Dubernard is one of the rare free-spirits in the world of Bordeaux vineyards, where an unfortunate tendency for smugness has become second nature. His crisp, generous wines reflect his personality. Furthermore, their value for money is one of the most exceptional for the region.

It was thanks to Richard Bernard, the enthusiastic sommelier of le Saint-James restaurant in Bouliac (2 Michelin stars in 2009) that I met François Dubernard. When asked, “Who is the first and foremost Bordeaux wine grower that I should visit?” Bernard replied without hesitation: “François Dubernard at Saint-Romain la Virvée! Tell him I sent you.”
 
From the outset, this unknown winegrower had to overcome a handicap – the fact that his appellation of origin Bordeaux Supérieur Contrôlée is hardly one of the most prestigious. And when you are just one of the Gironde’s 7,000 independent winegrowers, how do you manage to stand out from the crowd? The answer is by working your own vines and giving your wines a great deal of love and attention!
 
The village of Saint-Romain la Virvée is situated on the banks of the Dordogne between Saint-André-de-Cubzac to the West and Fronsac to the East. The Domaine du Bouscat was founded there in 1870 by François Dubernard’s ancestors. Dubernard took up the reins of the Domaine in 1998 at the age of 35. His approach has been outstanding in terms of the level of care given to the vines on his slopes which, with an average age of 36 years, have benefitted from the fact that during the 1960s and 70s Dubernard’s father was opposed to using “any kind of chemical” which now makes them very fashionable. The result is vines which are striking in terms of their beauty and resistance to disease.
 
Elements used in the soil maintenance include ploughing and growing grass between the vines, a moderate pest control, the use of natural fertilisers, low yields (between 15 and 22 hl/ hectare for the best vintages) and hand sorting of the grapes once the harvests are gathered. Dubernard has makes every effort to produce the finest possible grapes from the Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc varieties.
 
As far as the wine making is concerned, Dubernard is a believer in the process of aging on lees and using new barrels (the woody notes blend into the wine very well). He uses minimal doses of sulphur to protect his wines and avoids clarifying and filtration.
 
His wines are crisp, full of freshness, powerful and structured with silky and smooth tannins. They are delicious, generous wines that reflect the sensibility of the man who created them.
 
The names of the finest vintages are enigmatic (La Gargone and Les Portes de l’Am), as is the devil’s head which appears on their labels. Dubernard’s life has been marked by tragedy (the death of his wife) and it’s through his work that he has determinedly gone about rebuilding his life by giving the best of himself.
 
Tasting Dubernard’s wines, the sommelier of a top Parisian luxury hotel fell under their charm and wanted to include them on its wine list. However, the management refused, deeming them insufficiently expensive and prestigious for their clientele!
 
Wine enthusiasts – take note!
 
Domaine du Bouscat
33 240 Saint-Romain la Virvée
Tel: +33 (0)5 57 58 20 82
Starting prices for bottles direct from the cellars:
Domaine du Bouscat cuvée classique 2006: 5.50 €
Cuvée la Gargone 2006 and 2007: 14.50 €
Cuvée Les Portes de l’Am… 2007: 35 €

François Dubernard is one of the rare free-spirits in the world of Bordeaux vineyards, where an unfortunate tendency for smugness has become second nature. His crisp, generous wines reflect his personality. Furthermore, their value for money is one of the most exceptional for the region.

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