Andrew Guard


The name Pierre Overnoy is legend in France and the wines from his estate are revered. He was the pioneer of what have come to be called natural wines, especially in his avoidance of the use of sulphur.

Jules Chauvet, the Beaujolais négociant and wine researcher, was a mentor and a friend to Pierre Overnoy since the beginning. Overnoy’s goal was always to make wines of terroir, which would reveal the key of their soils and accuratley reflect their vintage. Diaphanous wines to the core.

The vines and the cellar are now solely in the hands of Pierre Overnoy‘s protégé, Emmanuel Houillon, who carries on the philosophy and each painstaking detail of his mentor. Without sulphur the quality of the grapes has to be exceptional and so everything in the vineyard is done totally organically - wines made this way can only eminate from healthy fruit. Yields are never more than 35hl/ha and Houillon turns the top six inches of soil, cutting the surface roots and thus depriving the plant‘s of the topsoil‘s potassium which otherwise combines with tartaric acid and lowers their acidity.

In the cellars the selected grapes undergo a semi-carbonic maceration in a covered vessel, with CO2 added at the start before the fermentation supplies its own. The temperature is held to about 8C for about ten days of maceration after which it is allowed to rise and so fermentation begins. The white grapes are immediately pressed and their juice is also protected with CO2. After the initial active phase some of the white wines continue to ferment a year or more, nearly all in old oak barrels of various sizes.

Houillon is opposed to adding anything to the wine. No new oak barrels influence their taste. Before bottling, the wines are neither filtered nor fined and they retain a lot of CO2, which has an antioxidant effect and helps to convey aroma.

These are living wines that are made by a modern day master; each wine a soulful, rewarding experience. Unfortunately these wines are all incredibly rare with only a tiny number of bottles coming to Australia.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012