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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Sunday, 29 September 2013

2013@Ampelidae in Haut-Poitou

Frédéric Brochet (centre) with part of son equipe
including Kate owner of Château des Roches 
where the wines are made

Part of winery@Château des Roches

On our way back from the Fiefs Vendéens we dropped in on Frédéric Brochet's Ampelidae operation in Marigny-Brizay (Haut-Poitou). I hadn't made an appointment but Jérémie Mourat thought they would have started picking so  I thought it would be worth turning up to find out how things were going.

They started picking here on Friday with Sauvignon Blanc. They also attacked the Chardonnay very early on Saturday - the picking machine getting underway at 5am, some 20 kms away from Château des Roches where the wines are now made. 

François who takes the early shift on the picking machine
starting well before daylight. He supplies Ampelidae with grapes from 25 ha

Philippe supplies grapes from 4 hectares 

Frédéric and his team have 107 hectares to harvest, so in a vintage that is looking delicate because of the rapid spread of rot, at least for the early varieties, the picking machines will be operated almost without a stop.

We had never visited Ampelidae before nor the Haut-Poitou vineyards. Although they are only about an hour and half from Epeigné-les-Bois, they are out of our normal line of travel, which is up and down the Loire mainly along the line of the A85 autoroute. 

Because of the disruption to small local roads, it took a while to find Frédéric's base at the Manoir de Lavauguyot about two kilometres from Marigny-Brizay. Here I was told that Frédéric was out looking at the crop in the vineyards and that we would probably find him at nearby Château des Roches.
Arriving at des Roches we met Kate Meuli, owner of the château with her husband Benji, since 1990. In 2004 they were able to buy the farm – 500 acres including 25 hectares of vines – and the buildings attached to the château. They entered into a partnership with Frédéric Brochet, who transferred his wine-making facilities here. 

Frédéric was supposed to return around 1pm, so Kate kindly invited us to join them for the workers lunch. which was extremely good as it is prepared by a former chef at the Fauchon restaurant in Paris. Frédéric used to be the wine consultant for Fauchon. L'Heure Brochet is rather different from customary time as he returned at 2pm.  

Frédéric reported that rot was spreading rapidly in the early varieties – you could almost see it developing as you watched. He also talked about the developments over the Cave de Haut-Poitou in nearby Neuville, which has long struggled with its debts, which have now reached 3.3 million euros. Having rejected a plan to go into partnership with Ampelidae, the Cave went into administration on 18th September. Out of 40 members of the co-operative, who own 250 hectares of vines, 16 with 93 hectares of vines have just signed this week a three-year contract with Ampelidae. The 16 will deliver their grapes to the coop as usual and Frédéric and his team will make the wine there as there isn't sufficient capacity at the Château des Roches and also Ampelidae is organic, so they need to vinify non-organically produced grapes elsewhere.  Whether Frédéric will have the use of the coop's facilities next year remains to be seen.

 Cave du Haut Poitou (above and below)

 My post for Les 5 du Vin this Tuesday will cover this story in more detail.           

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