Marco Buratti
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Imanol Garay
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Catherine Dumora
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Alanna Lagamba
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Jean-Marc Dreyer
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Stephane Cyran
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La Lunotte
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Simon Busser A Bras Le Cot 19/21 $19
Maurizio Ferraro Solo B 2020 $22
Maxou Vin de Jardin 2020 $25
Naranjuez Prisa Mata 2014 $25
Morgan Brennan Cider 2022 $27
Maxou Music Is My Life 2020 $27
Bauchet Plan B 2021 $27
Gazzetta Rosso Susanna 2021 $27
La Despeinada El Ciego 2021 $29
La Despeinada Claviento 2021 $29
Mendall La Plana 5 2021 $29
Damien Bureau Amandine 2016 $30
Le Coste Bianchetto 2021 $30
Michael Georget Syrah 2019 $33
Emile Heredia Le Verre des Poetes 2021 $35
Sistema Vinari Novetat Total 2021 1L $36
Gemini Leda 2019 $38
Renaud Boyer Bourgogne Blanc 2020 $39
Le Thio Noots Red Cox Knock 2021 $40
Le Thio Noots Carre d’Astres 2021 $40
Julien Altaber En Chapon 2019 $40
Julie Brosselin La Mer Rouge 2019 $41
L’Ostal Levant Un Coeur Simple 2021 $42
J-F Ginglinger BIHL 2020 $42
Michael Georget C’est Tout 2020 $50
Philippe Jambon Blanc 15/18 $59
Altura Saverio 2017 $66

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Patrick Desplats

Saint Lambert du Lattay, France

February 4, 2023. I’m in the Loire for the salons, plans mostly improvised. Dinner plans for the evening fall through in the morning. I check my DMs and see an invite to Patrick Desplats’ place from Devin of Don’t Worry Wines—do I wan’t to join?

Since 2000, and like other early extreme natural Val de Loire settlers Jérôme Saurigny and former Domaine des Griottes partner Sebastien Dervieux, Patrick Desplats has been a tireless presence in the region, as well as a sort of underground spokesperson for the evolution of uncompromising vin nature. The Domaine des Griottes bottles, made in the Coteaux du Layon (but bottled as Vin de Table), have now become completely sought after collector’s items. Thanks to cavistes like Ewen Le Moigne of Cave des Papilles who have actually held onto these bottles, I’ve had the opportunity over the past couple of years to drink some crucial cuvées and vintages from the Griottes era, every experience with these wines landing somewhere on the revelatory spectrum.

Griottes 2002, Weyand 2004

Earlier this year, on a grey February afternoon in Saint Lambert du Lattay, after a tasting in Pat’s qvevri garden and a walk to the Epona site, where Desplats, inspired by Georgian winemaking methods, has been training his vines up trees, the crowd of visitors dimished, and the few of us that remained were invited to stay for dinner. It was a chilly evening and we all ended up piling into Pat’s shack, sweaters and coats still on our backs, sitting on his bed and on chairs around a tiny table, and enjoying a dinner of deer that Pat had recently killed, alongside ratatouille, rice and various ferments. In accompaniment of the food was a bottle of Griottes Anjou Rouge 2002 (”some guy from Paris” had left it with Pat the week prior, apparently), as well as Le Pur Sang des Bois Gaspar 2004 from the deceased Pierre Weyand and his widow Josette Medeau, a bottle I had recently acquired in Paris. Both bottles were brilliantly brooding, haunting blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and to drink them with Patrick and Thierry Beclair, who just showed up out of the darkness that evening was something I couldn’t even make up in my wildest imagination. The deer and ratatouille set was the best meal I ate during those few days in the Loire, and Pat, a consumate host, was in fine form, waxing poetic about everything and anything wine culture and nature related. Exuding a humble and excitedly intuitive kind air, Pat was clearly comfortable holding court for the evening, and beyond the sense of outward showmanship, I picked up on a true sense of artistry in Desplats, a sensation I’ve always felt from drinking his wines, and for that feeling to be confirmed in person made my past experiences with his bottles feel even more special.

Desplats showing his vertical vine training in the Epona site

After tragically losing both Julie Balagny and Alain Castex in the last months, it feels to me that Pat is one of the few true vignerons left from the golden era of pre-Instagram natural wine, a time in which the demand for wines like these was low, and yet the actual spirit of winemaking incredibly high, uninfluenced by market trends or the potentialties of online fame and touring opportunities. I have to remind myself that this was a time when, save for the Japanese and a few restaurateurs and cavistes scattered in France and importers elsewhere in Europe, no one cared about these types of wines as they found them too wild, too unwieldy, too different. And yet now these are the facets of wines that us curious drinkers celebrate and look for with increasingly voracious appetites. The fact of the matter is that while so many contemporaries of Desplats have given up the hard-edged experimentalist approach for what I would consider much easier and less interesting wines that appeal to a broader market, Patrick has never ceased in his uncompromising work, and the results which can be unpredictable, wild and undefinable, speak for themselves. 

The qvevri garden

Since 2019, all of Patrick Desplats’ wines are pressed off to and raised in amphorae buried underground, just a few meters from where he sleeps. All wines rest until Pat feels they’re ready. While cuvée names stay the same each year, cépages change, determined by the characteristics of each specific vintage. For instance, 2022 was the first year that recently planted Grolleau was succesfully harvested, and the grape finds its way into the Vent y Tourne assemblage for the first time in this vintage. Despite the Georgian influence of buried clay, in true Desplats fashion, the wines feel of a class all their own, with not much reference to anything else other than perhaps certain vintages of Jerome Saurigny and the early Griottes-era wines. 

Caroline 2014 
Chenin Blanc (moelleux)

Caroline 2020
Chenin Blanc (dry)

Caroline 2020 MAG
Chenin Blanc (dry)

Homo Ca Coince 2020
Cabernet Sauvignon

Homo Ca Coince 2020 MAG
Cabernet Sauvignon

Brahma 2020
Chenin / Sauvignon Blanc

Brahma 2020 MAG
Chenin / Sauvignon Blanc

Vent y Tourne 2020 MAG
Pineau d’Aunis / Gamay

Epona 2020
Red / White Field Blend

Epona 2021
Red / White Field Blend

Fleur 2022
Sauvignon Blanc

Vent y Tourne 2022
Pineau d’Aunis / Gamay / Grolleau

Marguerite 2022
Chardonnay (80%) / Chenin / Sauvignon

Epona vineyard