Vignobles Paul Barre is a Biodynamic wine producer on the right bank of the Bordeaux region producing red wines under the Fronsac AOC and Canon-Fronsac AOC. The estate is certified Biodynamic by Association Demeter France.
Owner: Paul Barre and his wife, Pascale.
Biodynamic certification: 1993 First vintage with full organic certification. | 1998 First vintage with full Demeter certification. | 2008 Demeter.
Biodynamics: I discovered Biodynamics in 1993 while working on a Bordeaux vineyard called Château Gamage in St Pey de Castets. I had decided getting dirty working in vineyards and wineries was more useful than reading wine magazines concerned more with how wine tasted than how it was grown and made.
Château Gamage was run by a couple called Patrick and Béatrice Moulinet. Patrick’s family (his brother was Jean-Daniel) owned Gamage, Patrick had worked in the Bordeaux wine trade (eg. for Alexis Lichine), and had met a consultant oenologist called Marc Quertinier. The latter would often come for lunch whilst on his rounds in nearby regions such as Côtes de Castillon, St-Emilion and Fronsac, Marc gave Patrick advice for the Gamage wines. I was the dogsbody in the cellar and Marc taught me about wine making, oak use and so on, and he taught me about wine tasting.
Marc knew I was interested in more environmentally friendly wine-growing. He suggested I visit Paul Barre’s Château La Grave in Fronsac. ‘Barre is doing something which might interest you,’ Marc said. So I made an appointment and when I arrived (in a rickety van) Paul Barre immediately drove me to the local mechanic in his car so I could drive the van he’d had fixed back to the winery. Only then did he let me taste his red wines. The wines radiated. I asked to see the vineyards and I could see the land looked well managed. I could dig my hands into Barre’s soils with ease. Eventually, after lots of questions, Barre told be he was Biodynamic. I had never heard of this term before. Barre said it was hardly surprising, as only a handful (6 I think) estates in Bordeaux were Biodynamic at the time.
On Tues 20th October 2015 Paul Barre told me he went organic before going Biodynamic. He started with organics via Lemaire-Boucher in 1975. ‘I was open to Lemaire-Bouchet but when I saw the contract I did not like it. It was too commercial. You had to buy every product from them and them alone. After a couple of years I discovered Biodynamics which has a completely different approach. In Biodynamics each farmer is free to make the treatments needed for the land and crops, such as the Biodynamic preparations. You go and gather your own stinging nettles or chamomile flowers for example. There is no invoice to pay, just your own time and way of thinking and doing.’ See Paul Barre’s comments of dynamizing (stirring) Biodynamic preparations.
Vineyards–La Fleur Cailleau, Canon-Fronsac AOC: 2.5ha in Canon Fronsac on the south-east facing slope below Fronsac’s L’Eglise St Martin. 2ha once belonged to Canon de Brem/Ets JP Moueix. Cabernet Franc (0.4-ha), Cabernet Sauvignon (1.3-ha), and Merlot (1.3-ha).6,000 vines per hectare.
Vineyards–Château La Grave: 3.7ha.
Winemaking: Stainless steel for fermentation.
Fronsac AOC, Aux Caudelayres: The 2nd wine of Chateau La Grave eg. from younger vines. Formerly called Esterling.
Fronsac AOC, Château La Grave à Fronsac
Canon-Fronsac AOC, Château La Fleur-Cailleau: 1990 Biodynamic. The first Biodynamic wine I tasted, in 1993, during my first visit to see Paul Barre (see above). I was impressed by its clarity of fruit. 1990 was a great year. And it was Barre’s first Biodynamic vintage | 1998 Rich cedar and cassis nose, bold colour, elegant Bordeaux style red, with warm inviting tannin, a touch of oak and a moderate level of extraction when tasted blind at the Wine magazine biodynamic tasting, 23rd April 2003. | 2003 Paul Barre said ‘the grapes were healthy, with good acidity and pH (3.6), so half the wine was made with no added sulfites. 13.5% alcohol or more. Three weeks on skins. Vats to which no sulfites had been added ended up with sulfites.’ Barre notes that yarrow teas sprayed on the vines do contain sulfur. | 2006 80% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec. Small crop.
Canon-Fronsac AOC, Château La Fleur-Cailleau, Cuvée 43 | Aged in new oak barrels.
Vignobles Paul Barre.
Telephone conversation with Paul Barre on Tuesday afternoon 27th January 2004.