Call him an accidental winemaker. Frédéric Brouca, an Ottawa resident who makes wine from his own vineyard in southern France,
Although he did not buy his vineyard until four years ago, and the first vintage of his wine was 2013, Brouca, 39, says: “I have been ‘concepting’ this winery for 15 years.”
Unlike many winemakers, Brouca is largely self-taught, and took no formal courses on viticulture or making wine. His concept of growing grapes and making wine coincided with an approach adopted by many winemakers — reducing human intervention in the processes. That included cultivating vines without chemicals and making wine without using any of the many techniques widely employed to create wines in particular styles.
Brouca did a lot of research on farming before the Second World War, when the uses of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides was not as widespread as they are now. His vines are farmed organically and the grapes are all hand-harvested.
He picks his grapes two or three weeks earlier than most vine-growers in the region, so as to avoid overripe flavors in the wine and to keep the alcohol level down. If he waited for the grapes to be fully mature, he says, “we will have 15 or 17 per cent alcohol! It’s better to pick when the grapes give you 13 or 13.5 per cent, when you want to eat the grapes because they’re juicy and ripe.”
For winemaking, Brouca says, “we work only with what Mother Nature gives us, grapes and native yeasts to produce non-manipulated wines. We bottle our wines unfined and unfiltered.”
The wine is matured in stainless steel or in old, large barrels that do not contribute the oaky aromas and flavours in many oak-aged wines.
The vineyard is in the Faugères appellation in Languedoc, not far from the town of Béziers, and the vineyard has been certified organic since 1997. The main grape varieties are cinsault, grenanche, carignan, syrah and mourvèdre.
Although Brouca’s wines aren’t yet available at the LCBO, they are on the wine lists of four Ottawa restaurants (Fraser Café, Fauna, the Rowan, and Play).
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