Etienne Bodet / Maison Bodet-Hérold

Location: Montreuil-Bellay, Loire
Founded: 2017
Size: 1.4 hectares (Cabernet Franc)
Varieties: Cabernet Franc; sourced Chenin Blanc and Grolleau
Viticulture: Biodynamic
Vinification: Crémant – whole cluster pressing at low pressure, separation of first press and end-of-press must, native yeast fermentation, blocked malolactic fermentation, briefly aged in stainless steel tank, bottled in spring, further aging sur lattes for 30 months, low dosage. Red – ambient yeast fermentation with no added sulfur, partial whole cluster inclusion (up to 35%), no punch-downs or pump-overs. Aged for a minimum of 2 years in used barrels followed by 6 months in vats and another 6 months in bottles.

Etienne Bodet comes with quite the resumé, having worked at great domaines in Burgundy and the Loire. He trained with Sylvain Pataille, Aurélien Gerbais, Bernard Baudry, François Dal and Romain Guiberteau (who is also his stepfather). He is currently one of the winemakers at the famous Loire domaine Clos Rougeard, and also consults for several small Champagne houses.
For the Physis, a sparkling wine he created under the banner Maison Bodet-Herold with his wife Kim Herold, he sources Chenin and Grolleau Noir from three vineyards in the vicinity of his native Saumur, all biodynamically farmed on Cretaceous soils. The wine is fermented using indigenous yeasts, and then aged in stainless steel. It spends 30 months in the bottle on its lees before disgorgement. It’s pure sunshine: lemon zest, delicate white flowers, and lemon meringue.
Not long ago, Etienne took over a family plot of 1.3 hectares of Clos Durandière – Cabernet Franc planted on some of the only hard Jurassic limestone found in the Saumur appellation (the rest lies almost entirely on the soft Cretaceous limestone known as tuffeau). He farms it biodynamically and will pursue certification. Though the use of whole-clusters is uncommon in Saumur, he includes up to 35%. He vinifies without sulfur additions, later adding tiny amounts at bottling. Macerations last 26 to 28 days with no punch-downs or pump-overs. It is aged for two years in barrels (mostly the used barrels of the Le Bourg cuvée from Clos Rougeard). Afterward, it spends an additional six months aging in vats, followed by another six months in the bottle before it is released. The use of non-extractive maceration, low sulfur additions and an extended élevage are done in an effort to soften the tannins of Cabernet Franc. This is a variety is prone to Brettanomyces, but Etienne prefers to intervene minimally in the cellar, instead encouraging nitrogen-fixing grasses in the vineyards so there is plenty of nitrogen in the must, which allows the yeasts to do their job by fully fermenting the sugar. “I believe you have to make wine on the razor’s edge,” Etienne says. “You don’t have to use chitosan or filtration. The goal is to work with Brettanomyces but to avoid ethylphenol – the taste of Brett. Ok, it sounds easy when spelled out like that,” he laughs. The first vintage of Clos Durandiere, 2020, is described as follows by our friends at Becky Wasserman & Co: “Extraordinarily compelling. The gorgeous nose mixes potpourri, the lavender and noble vegetal of whole clusters, and a cornucopia of other things, mostly savory. The fluid yet geometric palate is driven by bright acidity, powdery, fine-grained tannins, and the mineral cut of his terroir’s hard limestone.”
Those In the Know – Crémant as an Alternative to Champagne” by Lettie Teague, Wall St Journal, March 16, 2024