Interview of Louis BRISSON in the monthly magazine Le Sommelier. Discussion about the history of the BRISSON family, the wines of the Domaine and the vinification. In English.
This is the translation of the article published in English. The original version can be found here
What can you tell me about the history of Domaine Brisson?
It is a family domaine. My grandfather bought it on his return from Algeria. The Domaine had been abandoned for many years. He did a great job planting new vines and building a new winery and cellar. “Following in his father’s footsteps, my father started in the late 70s, and now I have plans to take over.
What is your favorite part of the winemaking process?
For me, what is very important is the time of the harvest and the choice of the date of the harvest. It is important to harvest at the right time to determine how it will perform in the vats. We always harvest our grapes when they are 100% ripe. That is, the berries, seeds and stems must be fully ripe to give the wine all the fruit flavors and good tannins. For me, this is the crucial point. After that, if we have a good potential, we can make a good wine; we cannot make a good wine if the quality of the grapes is not good, otherwise it would not be an authentic wine, it is not what we want to achieve.
What is the secret of the elaboration of the Domaine Brisson wines?
First of all, it is necessary to harvest at the right time, with ripe grapes. We produce Gamay wines; in Beaujolais, all red wines are 100% Gamay. We vinify Gamay in the traditional way, not only because it is traditional, but because we think it is the best way. We put the whole grapes in vats, we do not remove the stems, this is the second characteristic of the domain. The third is to make a long fermentation, to extract the structure and give the wine we produce a fruity flavor. Finally, the fourth specificity is the ageing, especially with the Noble Tradition cuvée; we age the cuvée when the vintage is good, and with high tannins, in oak barrels”.
What is your best memory since you have been working at Domaine Brisson?
This is a difficult question! This is a wine that we opened for American clients two months ago. It was a 1997, and it was delicious! It’s a good memory because every day we tell our customers that Beaujolais wines are not just Beaujolais Nouveau, “easy to drink, easy to forget”, that can’t be kept in the cellar for very long, but this is not true! And enjoying this old vintage with clients was a very pleasant experience. It’s good to know that people can still taste our 10, 15 or 20 year old wines, it’s rewarding for us!
In your opinion, what is the most critical period?
I would say it’s the winemaking process, the harvest period. It’s a little risky to plan the harvest time, because we harvest by hand, so it’s not like a machine, where if it’s not ready today, you can just put the machine in the garage and wait. If people are here to work, they can’t wait. It is therefore very difficult to determine the right time in advance. So far, we’ve managed to do it! We have the ability to harvest from multiple plots, so if one is not ready, maybe we can harvest from another.”
When is the best time to drink your wine?
Our wines, or Gamay in general, are very good wines to drink as they range from light wines as an aperitif, or with light dishes such as salad or charcuterie, to a more structured wine to accompany a steak or spicy meal. For me, it’s very interesting because you can enjoy a single bottle from the starter to the cheese!
How would you describe the Beaujolais way of life?
The Beaujolais way of life is very friendly. Because Beaujolais is a social wine, it is easy to share good times with other winemakers and producers. What is also beautiful in Beaujolais is the nature and the landscape, little known in France and abroad. Some parts of the Beaujolais, near Lyon, are called the “little Tuscany”, the landscapes are very varied and the wines too!