Crozes-Hermitage is not the flashiest appellation in the Northern Rhône, but it’s down-to-earth unpretentiousness suits Jacques Breyton well. Jacques prefers to quietly and methodically go about his business of crafting soulful wine, as well as growing apricots and other fruits on his Demeter-certified biodynamic farm. The wines of Domaine Breyton convey authenticity and sincerity, often lacking in many modern wines bearing the Crozes-Hermitage label.
Jacques has been working his vineyards and orchards organically and biodynamically since the 1990s (Demeter certification came in 2002), well before these labels had the cachet or the trendiness they enjoy today. He has always worked this way because he feels it is the best way to do things, as an ecosystem with biodiversity yields healthy and complex fruits. His meticulous and thoughtful farming, in addition to simple and restrained winemaking, is how he transmits terroir to the glass so transparently.
Cuvée Charles is Jacques Breyton’s single-vineyard wine named after his wife’s grandfather, the vineyard’s original owner. The 1ha vineyard was planted between 1946 and 1950 in the lieu-dit of Beaubrunet in the village of Érôme, where the terroir is nearly identical to neighboring Hermitage. The steep, granitic hillside with southwest exposure yields intensely perfumed wines with all of the grace and finesse associated with the wines of Hermitage. The site has been farmed biodynamically and plowed manually since 2002 by Jacques. Breyton’s wines are made with minimal intervention and low sulfur levels.
Vintage – The 2018 vintage was outstanding in the northern Rhône Valley, producing exciting wines of exceptional structure, perfume, and depth of flavor. A rainy winter in 2018 replenished water reserves after the dry 2017 vintage. Flowering was near perfect, followed by a warm and dry summer, lasting into September, allowing for an early harvest of perfectly ripe fruit, with a good balance of acidity and tannin. The vintage feels fresh, perfumed, substantial, and energetic. 2018 is a marriage of the richness of 2017 to the freshness of 2016.
Vinification – Following a manual harvest, the grapes are destemmed and fermented in stainless steel tanks using native yeasts. The wine then ages in three and four-year-old Burgundy barrels for nine months.