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Les Capriades: Masters of Fizz

Les Capriades: Masters of Fizz

For lovers of the sparkling wines made the old school way, Les Capriades need no instruction. They produce what are considered by many to be the best method ancestral wines (pet-nats) produced anywhere in the world. 

Les Capriades is the brian child of Pascal Potaire. For a long time Pascal Potaire made wine for other growers (Nicolas Renard, Noella Morentin, etc...). After a while he decided to start out on his own and founded Les Capriades in the early 2000s, at first alone and then eventually joined by his friend Moses Gadouche. Obsessed with balance, low alcohol, and high acidity, his mission became to bring the elegance and finesse of great Champagne to the world of naturally fermented sparkling wine. He is happiest in the cellar, keeping a close eye on his juice and maintaining his impeccable cellar, the quotidian tasks that make Les Capriades the pinnacle for méthode ancestrale sparkling wines.

Les Capriades is located within the Touraine appellation, in the town of Faverolles-sur-Cher.  Designated “négociant vinificateur,” they buy the majority of their grapes, which they harvest themselves from a handful of local organic growers around Faverolles. The soils here feature silex and clay with limestone subsoil, which of course helps the wines attain their crunchy mineral backbone.

The process of making méthode ancestrale sparkling wine seems incredibly simple but is actually rather difficult. First, there’s extensive sorting in the vines. The wines are produced without sulfur and thus the grapes themselves have to be perfect. Any flaw in the fruit will be amplified in the wine. The juice begins to ferment in tank, and at the opportune moment, mid-fermentation, the wines are bottled to complete their fermentation under a crown cap, trapping carbonic gas and giving them their soft, frothy bubbles. It’s both an art and a science. 

The wines are riddled before disgorgement using a giropallet, and are disgorged by hand, in some cases twice due to the large amount of deposit in the bottle. The resulting wines are elegant and complex, with rich, persistent bubbles and subtle aromas and flavor that are carried on waves of minerality and acidity. Les Capriades continues to build and maintain their unassailable reputation as the best Domaine making this style of sensitive, yet highly satisfying sparkling wine.

Les Capriades, Petillant Blanc “Pet-Sec”, 2019

Bone dry yet opulent bubbles with toasty notes. Made from a majority of Chenin Blanc with a small percentage of Cabernet Franc, this is an oyster-appropriate wine with intense limestone minerality.

Les Capriades, Petillant Rosé “Pynoz”, 2018

This  incredibly lovely blend of 50/50 Pinot Noir and Pineau d'Aunis, from 30 to 80 year old vines is studied in balance. This spent 24 months sur lie bored being disgorged by hand it is still very youthful with subtle raspberry and floral aromas. Fresh and silky this will only get better with a few years in the cellar but good luck waiting that long. 

Les Capriades, Petillant Blanc “Pepin Las Bulles” Magnum, 201

This cuvée shows the true capabilities of the pet-nat style of winemaking. All Chenin grown on silex and limestone soils, this has the intense minerality that the Domaine is known for. Produced in the same manner as all of their wines, Pepin,spend a minimum of 3 years on the lees before being digorged by hand. The finished product is rife with citrus and flowers on the nose, and ripe melon accompanied by a crunchy mineral backbone on the palate. With a pet-nat this delicious, you’ll have a hard time putting down your glass! Delicious now but can develop even further especially in this Magnum bottling.