Meet Your Makers: The Pinard brothers

Florent and Clément Pinard.

Introducing Florent and Clément, directors of Domaine Vincent Pinard and the 20th generation to make wine in Sancerre. Innovation here is key while maintaining the natural winemaking practices their family has followed for hundreds of years.

Florent and Clément are focused on creating wines with a sense of place, specialising in their specific terroir. The Pinards create wines with volume and strength that stand head and shoulders above typical Sancerre productions.

Working with old vines and low yields, the bros produce wines that are powerful but very balanced with a fabulous capacity for a long ageing such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grow their 17 hectares.

Visiting Domaine Vincent Pinard is a must if you’re in Sancerre. Here, Vincent and Clément tells us their fascinating story.

Where did you study and work before creating your project?

To understand our story, it’s important to know that our family estate was established a long, long time ago in Sancerre, in Bué, for more than 20 generations. Today my brother Florent and I are continuing this story. Florent worked at D. Dagueneau estate and Jean Louis Trapet in Burgundy before starting to run our estate in 2001. As for me, I worked at Philippe Alliet Estate in Chinon, David Duband and Vincent Geantet in Burgundy, Trévallon in Provence and Spy Valley in Marlborough, joining my brother in 2007.

Where your winery is located and the most important characteristics of the region?

We are located in the small village in Bué, a famous old wine village where the soil is very chalky, 4 km from Sancerre. Sancerre is an important place for Sauvignon Blanc in the world, found 200 km south from Paris in the Loire Valley, the earth of France. 

Bué, Sancerre.

Could you define yourself personally and professionally?

We used to say that wine is a reflection of the winemaker, in which case we hope that our wines are sincere and honest. 

What made you fall in love with making wine?

Florent and I fell in love with wine at a very young age. Florent likes to tell the story that his first emotion was a Trevallon 1990. Besides, it is a wine that has always followed us. For me, I wanted to be a chef cuisinier but year after year, the wines took an increasingly important place in my heart. When you have this long story and this passion in your blood, it’s normal to continue. Our parents never forced us to but it is just natural.

How did you start your project?

We didn’t choose to be here – it just happened. But we think we are lucky. Lucky to be in Sancerre and lucky to have an established family estate. Besides, we are very fascinated when a new estate is born and people create a new place and a new cellar. We must know how to recognise that we are privileged.

What is your professional dream? 

Just to continue giving smiles and emotions to our clients. The most important part of our work is our customers satisfaction. 

And, that the next generation continues the adventure. But the children will decide. You should never force them to choose a trade.

Which season of the year do you prefer and why? 

Harvest, of course. It is the result of a year’s work in the vineyard but also means a newborn [baby] in the cellar. The flavours during harvest are always exciting.  

Do you follow any particular rules of your own to produce wine?

The rules followed are those of biodynamic viticulture (although we are not looking to be certified, as it isn’t important for us) and our work is to undertake clean viticulture that’s linked to the environment and the terroir. True wines without any trickery. Vine wines and not wines that have been overworked in the cellar.

Who helped you to become who you are today? 

Our parents and our father Vincent is the best teacher we could have. His experience and his relationship with vines is the best path we could follow. 

Pinard x 3.

How do you make your wines reach people’s feelings? 

Just by being sincere, we want to give the maximum expression of our terroir and environment. 

What is your view of wine in your area?

We are lucky to have a really dynamic vineyard. In Sancerre, many winemakers are passionate and there’s a real effort and very good understanding between us all. In addition to the quality of our Sancerre region, its people’s strength is also vital. 

What do you feel when you create and drink wine?

When we make a wine, I like to imagine what people might say about this or that bottle. Where it is opened and for what occasion. When I drink wine, I focus on the terroir expression. But not too much, wine has to be a simple pleasure.

What’s your biggest adventure as a wine producer?

It’s the adventure of a lifetime. So, maybe, ask us these same questions again in about 30 years.

What’s the most recent thing you’ve learnt?

Probably about biodynamic culture and the special relationship we have with our soils. That sensitivity is very special.

What is the biggest difficulty you face today with your job?

We all encounter degeneration difficulties in our vines. There has always been this culture in Sancerre and sometimes the vines are tired, although the expression of the wines is magnificent; biodynamics is perhaps one of the solutions to this degeneration.

What do you think about biodynamic viticulture and natural wine?

Biodynamic viticulture is exactly in our philosophy. About natural wine, we like some and we also makesome. But natural wine doesn’t mean to say that a wine is good. With natural wine, you have to be even more demanding. Great natural wines are not very numerous but can bring a lot of emotion.

View from the winery.

Taking into account how Covid-19 is affecting all areas, what adjustments and changes have you made so far and how do you see it from here to harvest? How do you see the trend of wine 10 years from now in France?

Of course Covid-19 is having an important impact in the world of wine. In our estate the most important was to ensure our team’s safety. We are lucky to have excellent staff. The vines don’t stop growing, plus spring and summer are busy periods. We have to continue the job using safe methods. But today, we don’t know how the organisation will pan out until harvest.

As for trade, I hope that French wine will continue to obtain lovers around the world. I think that this centuries-old culture will continue to attract more enthusiasts. Wine has a great future.

Please choose one of your wines and tell us what food you would enjoy it with.

An emblematic bottle made by our parents is Sancerre Blanc Harmonie 1996. It’s so amazing today. The truffle flavours are captivating. It would be perfect with a truffle risotto. 

Check out last week’s Meet Your Maker with Ismael Gozalo of Microbio Wines in Nieva, Castilla y León (in Spanish.)

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