Brice Omont’s story is one of luck, hard work—and success:
A young agronomist from Champagne, in search for a viticultural domaine where he can hone his skills, meets a biodynamic vigneron in desperate need of help to revive a historic vineyard site in Cevins, near Albertville, in Haut-Savoie. After overcoming great difficulties, from climatic to financial, and arduous years of work, a second vineyard in full production is added to the property, in the nearby hamlet of St. Pierre de Soucy, creating what is now Domaine des Ardoisieres. With the monetary backing of silent partners, Brice takes over the control of the operation and after several successful vintages he starts getting recognition by both peers and press, to the point that now he is regarded as one of the most exciting vignerons in France.
The vineyards sites are in two very different soils. Cevins is mica and schist, while St. Pierre de Soucy is mostly clay. The first produces wines with a deep mineral core, wines that evolve slowly and require long cellaring time. The wines from the second are more forward and accessible in their youth.
Some people have called their farming practices “heroic biodynamics.” All the vineyards are terraced, following the natural contours of the land, with the average inclination 60 degrees. The vineyards are planted with indigenous varieties: jacquere, roussanne, pinot gris, mondeusse blanc, and altesse for the whites, and mondeusse and persan for the reds. All the work in the vineyard is done by hand and the fertilizer of choice is sheep manure. All treatments and infusions are only applied on “fruit” days.
In the cellar the winemaking is non-interventionist but meticulous. The wines from Cevins are fermented in used barrels (from Mortet in Burgundy and Chateau Smith-Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux) and for St. Pierre de Saucy, a third in used barrels, two thirds in steel. Fermentation is slow due to the natural low temperatures; malolactic fermentation takes place after the winter.
The style of Domaine des Ardoisieres is precise and elegant. The wines are getting more complex and structured as the vines get older; they have a great sense of place and incredible freshness. We certainly are in the presence of a rising star.
At Eli’s List:
Domaine Des Ardoisieres Argile Rouge 2014 $50 From St. Pierre de Soucy, bright, with red fruit tones and floral notes.
Domaine Des Ardoisiers Schiste Blanc 2014 $80 From Cevins, mineral, with notes of white flowers and citrus peel. A wine of time and patience.