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Sébastien Bobinet & Emeline Calvez, Saumur, Loire valley, France


In 2002, Sébastien Bobinet took about 2 hectares of vines left by his grandparents and then became the 8th generation of his family tending vines in the little hamlet of Beaulieu, just near Saumur, in the Loire Valley. As it is common in the Saumur appellation, those parcels were predominantly made of cabernet franc with a bit of chenin blanc. Located on the prestigious terroir of the slope of Saumur, on the South bank of the Loire, the soil is made of clay and limestone, and the “tuffe” (tufa) is omnipresent. Bobinet’s house and cellar (a long gallery going about 100 meters deep into the hill) are both “troglodyte” (underground structures), dug in the rock of the slope, allowing the wines aging in barrels to stay at a constant temperature of 12°C.

After his encounter with Anjou’s natural winemaker Olivier Cousin, Sébastien became determined to produce wines that expressed their wonderful terroir without using chemicals or intervening too much in the natural process. The estate was then converted to organic production in 2003, even if the certification (but not the practices) was abandoned in 2010 for ideological reasons concerning the insufficiency of rigorous controls from the certified institution and the lack of certification concerning the natural vinification process itself.

Other encounters also shaped Bobinet’s adventure: with Bernard Pontonnier for instance, who encouraged Sébastien to test carbonic macerations, which gave birth, among others, to the iconic cuvée Greta Carbo. In 2011, former professional dancer and figure of the Paris natural wine scene, Emeline Calvez joined the estate and Sébastien’s life. Together, they were able to extend the estate to 6 hectares of vines. After harvesting the grapes with a good maturity by handpicking, the fermentations of all wines start with the yeasts that are naturally present on the fruit because of the daily preservation of the ecosystem in the vineyard. This allows for a full expression of Saumur’s terroir, the wines being minerally charged and all showing a unique personality. The different methods used to vinify the wines also contribute to a great diversity within the cuvées: skin-maceration for Amatéüs Bobi, carbonic maceration for Greta Carbo and Rififi à Beaulieu (a blend of pineau d'aunis and côt /malbec), a combination of both kind of maceration for Ruben, and direct pressing of the grapes for the white wine Les Gruches.