The beautiful Château Massereau is located in Barsac, about thirty kilometres southeast of Bordeaux, and contains around ten hectares of vineyards. The Chaigneau family bought the château in 2000, recognising the originality of a vineyard that had not been re-planted like the rest of the appellation and still contained the original Semillon and muscadelle vines that made Sauternes famous.
The vineyards had also never seen the intensified industrialized production that had hit the rest of the appellation: they were a little oasis of natural historical vineyards, in what had otherwise become a large Sauternes factory. True to the history of the property, the family decided to continue to farm the vineyard in the most natural way possible: no chemicals are ever used and the results are astonishing.
WHAT IS NATURAL WINE?
More a movement than a set of certified winemaking procedures, there are no rigid definitions of natural wine. Natural wines from different producers can be incredibly diverse, ranging in styles and profiles due to the varying production methods. The lack of legislation often frees winemakers to make expressive and interesting wines.
Natural wines are made with as minimal intervention as possible, be it the techniques, additives or everything in between. The goal is to get a wine made with minimal processing, natural yeast and no additional sulfites so that it serves as the best possible expression of the vineyard.
Now, there’s plenty of wriggle room here. Natural winemakers disagree on various practices, including adding some sulphites and filtering the finished wine. They agree on the basics, though: if treated sustainably, the vineyard can produce delicious wines using techniques that have existed for thousands of years. Natural methods can produce truly fantastic, complex wines, and the growing popularity of the movement means there is more choice than ever for the natural wine enthusiast.
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