M. Denis Barbara
The appellation of Saint-Pourçain is situated in the center of France in the Allier department. This region is better known to wine professionals for its forests of prized oak trees used in barrel production than for its wines. The vineyards are planted on a series of hillsides to the west of the Allier river ranging approximately 5 kilometers in width and 30 kilometers in length. The history of vineyards in this area dates back to before the Romans, when the Phoenicians settled here and planted vines. In fact, they claimed to have civilized the barbarians with wine. During the 13th and 14th centuries the wines of Saint-Pourçain were highly esteemed. They traveled up to Paris via the Allier and Loire rivers and were favored by Popes, royalty and the aristocracy alike. By the end of the 18th century the vineyards of Saint-Pourçain covered more than 8,000 hectares. Today the vineyards total 1,000 hectares. The appellation recently received AOC status in 2009.
Denis Barbara farms several separate parcels of land totaling 6.5 hectares. Two thirds of his production is in white wine.
The distinguishing local grape variety is the Sacy, known in Saint-Pourçain as Tressallier. The variety is associated with the Yonne where it was at one time widely planted and rivaled the Chardonnay grape. Interestingly, historical references mention that the Sacy grape produced far better results in Saint-Pourçain than elsewhere. As in the Yonne, the Tressallier has been eclipsed in Saint-Pourçain by the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. M. Barbara produces his white wines from a blend of Chardonnay and Tressallier, according to the propotions of varieties planted in respective parcels. The Tressallier vines, which are naturally quite productive, are pruned to 7 or 8 bunches per vine and yield an average of 30h per hectare. Fermentation is carried out in temperature controlled stainless steel vats where the wine remains on its lees until bottling in the spring.
M. Barbara grows both Gamay and Pinot Noir, the two sanctioned varieties in Saint-Pourçain. The largest part of his red wine production comes from gamay. Not liking the results of blending these two varieties, he produces a separate wine from his Pinot Noir. The Gamay grapes are destemmed and rest in a chilled tank (10°-12°C) for 4 days. This type of pre-fermentation maceration is now often seen in the production of white wines. The fermentation follows and lasts 6 or 7 days. It includes the regular pumping over of a chilled must. M. Barbara is employing techniques designed to bring out in his wine the fresh fruit characteristics of his grapes.
"Vin d'Alon" Saint-Pourçain Blanc : Vines covering 1.6 hectares, on clay-limestone soils in the commune of Bransat, planted to 70% Chardonnay, 30% Tressallier.
"Quarteron" VDT Blanc : Wine matured in oak barrels from the forests of Allier and Jagny-sur-Bèsbre. From a 40 ares parcel of granite soil in the commune of Lafeline, planted to 80% Chardonnay, 15% Tressallier, 5% Sauvignon Blanc.
"La Chambre d'Edouard" Saint-Pourçain Rouge In 2001 a Pinot Noir-loving friend of vigneron Denis Barbara elected to sleep through the night in Pinot Noir tank number seven, then empty, of Denis’ new winery. Now his 100% Pinot Noir cuvee is nicknamed “La Chambre d’Edouard” (Edward’s room.)
"Brut 0" Vintage Brut : Methode Champenoise. 100% Gamay from the micro-climat Les Ferneaux, 2.9 hectares in the commune of Bransat, on granite soils. Vinified white, with four years sur lattes and no dosage.
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