Château Moulin de Peyronin is a refreshing take on the many, MANY Bordeaux wineries. Aged only 25, Franck and Véronique Terral bought the winery in 2006 with the desire to farm organically, while using their combined backgrounds in viticulture, oenology and commercial wine studies to create a business. Since then, they have been pouring their passion into every last grape, developed 20 hectares of land (14 of which are planted with vines) and started a family.
Located in Entre-deux-Mers, east of Saint-Émilion in the Dordogne valley, the winery has been growing organically since 1975 and was certified by the previous owners in 1985. But Franck and Véronique wanted to go a step further. Biodynamic farming had always been their ambition and, in 2017, Château Moulin de Peyronin received Demeter Biodynamic Certification. With the certification, they really get a chance to showcase a grape’s natural qualities, while at the same time respecting and nurturing the environment.
You might be asking yourself, “What the hell is biodynamic farming?” We’re going to get a little wine-nerdy here for a second. And possibly a little hippy, as well.
Biodynamic farming is a holistic approach to organic farming and is often coupled with low-intervention and natural wine-making methods, but taking them to a whole new level.
Biodynamic practices view the farm or vineyard as a single autonomous body that requires specific preparation to actively balance its soil. This preparation is done in line with lunar and planetary cycles in a bid to produce wine in its most natural form.
For example, high-quality cow manure is placed in cow horns, also known as ‘horn dung’, and buried around the vines. This creates a breeding ground for microbial activity and regulates the pH of the soil, thus creating a powerful soil builder. Kind of sexy, right? No? Just us then.
Franck and Véronique take it a step further and use green fertilisers such as faba beans and plant hedgerows of truffle oak trees around the vineyard to encourage fauna and build biodiversity.
Sheep are invited in on the fun to do what they do best: chow down on weeds around the grape vines. The vines are also sprayed with a cow manure mix instead of pesticides. In addition, the land around the vineyard is nourished by the almost daily rain that falls in the Bordeaux region.
One of the reasons that more winemakers are choosing the biodynamic path is because the grapes are so cared for pre-harvesting that there is less need to intervene with the wine afterwards. Regular winemaking, by comparison, typically requires the addition of synthetically modified organisms along with various fining agents to clarify the wines. Château Moulin de Peyronin uses racking for this process.
Of the 20 hectares that Franck and Véronique own, 11.5 are devoted to red grapes such as Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, the typical Bordeaux blend, while another 2.5 hectares are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Sémillon. They supply nine types of wines nationally and we are lucky enough to import five of these.
Each wine is incredibly distinctive and you can taste Véronique and Franck’s personal dedication and effort in every glass. My favourite of the range is ‘L’Orange du Moulin Natural’. In fact, they were one of the first wineries in Bordeaux to produce an orange wine. To make this wine, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris grapes are treated as if they are red wine grapes and are left to ferment with their skins and seeds, which produces that copper amber-colour orange wine is most known for. Think custard-apple-burnt-crumble-brulée and with a slick mouth feel that is bone dry – délicieux!
Château Moulin de Peyronin is a winery certainly worth keeping an eye on over the next few years, especially with the changes that global warming is causing. Knowing the care and devotion that Véronique and Franck put into their wines makes us proud to import them.