Who: Frédéric Aublanc
What: Vin de France and Brouilly
When: Since 1950s
It took a chance introduction from Pierre Michelland of Domaine la Realtière by way of a bottle offered to reveal this under the radar producer to us in the summer of 2020.
Fred is based high the end of a winding road beyond the Brouilly vineyard in a large seeminly ramschackle house over an ancient vaulted cellar lined with a an impressive collection of old bottles of others’ and his own family’s wines. Fred is a real wine lover who gets around – but not to salons. He prefers a personal presentation.
His family have farmed vines here and in Burgundy and in Champagne for over two hundred years. Fred was initiated in vinification in the 1980’s. Following a health scare in 2009, he reduced his workload and today he’s happy to farm 7 ha of vines. He sells half of the fruit to his friends Marcel Joubert and Jean-Claude Lapalu and makes his own wine with the rest – if anything his Brouilly perhaps bears a passing resemblance to the Renaissance or Gres Roses of Joubert but it’s really its own spectacle.
He calls his wines ‘vins traditionnels’ rather than vins naturels being no respecter of fashion one way or the other. He farms organically – but isn’t certified, being no great fan of the paperwork. He makes the wines traditionally by semi carbonic maceration, and with or without sulphites depending on the quality of the raw material.
He exports very little and sells mainly to a handful of adoring cavistes in France.
A visit to Fred is a bit of a trip back in time to a slower pace. With amazing generosity, Fred takes the time on our first visit to pull out a Nouveau 1997 and Brouilly 1988 after we’d tasted the current wines. Both were stunning and testament to the benefits of working “traditionnel” rather than simply “naturel”. The Brouilly reminded us of a Côte Rôtie of similar age, but with a sweeter red berry fruit. More recently we ran into him chez Pierre Michelland with his Nouveau 2020, in bottle just a few weeks and boasting a fabulous and surprisingly deep fruit and structure. Chapeau!