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Brice Omont

Domaine des Ardoisières

VigneronBrice Omont
LocationSaint-Pierre-de-Soucy (Savoie)
Size of Domaine16 ha
TerroirAlpine climate. Sandy clay with schist and micaschist subsoil. Steep slopes up to 70⁰, south exposition. 400-500m altitude.
ViticultureCertified organic (Ecocert) practicing biodynamic
View Domaine des Ardoisières wines ↓

Brice Omont’s 16 ha domaine des Ardoisières was originally the project of now-retired grower Michel Grisard (Prieuré St Christophe). Michel took up the idea of a local association Vivre En Tarantaise who were looking for a vigneron to replant abandoned mountain terraces above the village of Cévins. The project entailed creating a company to rent around 400 plots of land from villagers and the local mayor, restore the terraces, stone walls and vineyard cabins – the estate is named after the slate (ardoise) roofs of the cabins and stone walls.

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A small plot of altesse was planted in 1998 and after significant land clearing involving 250 villagers, more vines were planted in 2000-2002 to reach 5.5 ha. The varieties chosen were all local and the vision was to make blends in contrast to the single varietals that were the norm in Savoie. Michel had always planned to find a young vigneron to help with the project and in 2003 he took on Brice, with the two working together until 2010 when Michel stood back leaving Brice to run the estate.

The now 6 ha of Cévins vineyards lie on precipitous hillsides (as steep as Côte-Rotie) at 400-500m altitude, on poor stony soil on a mica-schist base, which is rare in the limestone dominant landscape of Savoie. Renown soil specialist Claude Bourguignon advised on which grapes should be planted and on which slopes. It’s an incredible micro-climate here with over 100 herbs noted during a recent survey, and one of the most beautiful vineyards in all of France.

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The steep coteau of Cévins
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Brice does not have to contend with any chemicals used in other vineyards as his vines are the only ones in the area. The vineyards were classified Cévins IGP by the INAO (rather than qualifying for the Vin de Savoie AC) simply because the mountains here are so steep that there is one hour of sunlight less in the morning and one in the afternoon – not that ripening the grapes has been a problem at all over the last five years. 3 ha face the rising sun in the east and 3 ha the setting sun in the west, with the east-facing vineyards reaching incredibly high temperatures of up to 50c (the sun bounces off the schist rock and magnifies the temperature). The working day stops at 1pm as working here in the afternoon is physically impossible, to the point that Brice is considering clearing the hillsides at a higher, cooler altitude and plant more vineyards. It’s from these stunning, low yielding vineyards that Brice produces his finest cuvées Améthsyte, Schiste and Quartz.

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The village of Cévins

As well as Cévins, Brice also has an important parcel of 8 ha of vines in St Pierre de Soucy (still on schist based hillsides but with a greater limestone-clay component and much easier to work mechanically than the slopes of Cévins) and 1 ha on the scree slopes of St Jean de la Porte. He produces his two main cuvées Argile Blanc and Argile Rouge from these two vineyards and has also recently planted 1.5 ha at Laissaud. Working these terraced slopes organically calls for a lot of manual labour, and he now employs 15 people (so one person per hectare).

Work in the cave revolves around minimal intervention, with a mix of fibreglass cuves and older oak used for white élevage, and malos completed, with total sulphur of around 30mg/l at bottling. The reds are made from 100% whole bunches by semi-carbonic maceration, and he’s learned from Gilles Berlioz that Savoie reds are better when you manipulate them the least. He practices a little pigeage when fermentation is starting and then the occasional remontage. Argile Rouge is cuve aged and Améthyste aged in 2-10yo barrels. The latter made from yields of 25hh (and from a majority of the very rare persan grape) is an expensive cuvée, but then again we believe it’s way better than most Côte-Rotie with an energy and finesse that make it one of France’s finest and most exciting reds.

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Domaine des Ardoisières Wines

Maison des Ardoisières

VIN DES ALLOBROGES IGP 2018
Silice
100% Jacquère (12% alc.)

This is a négoce cuvée from Brice Omont of Domaine des Ardoisières. It comes from organically farmed 50-60yo vines on limestone scree and clay limestone soils in Apremont, fermented and aged in fibreglass vats for 9 months, and bottled with just 20mg/l of sulphur. Fresh on the nose with touch of white flowers and lemon, there’s a bit of gras on the attack and a lively finish with hints of quinine and lime. It’s pretty serious for the price, and the bottle we tasted in the office in October 2019 opened up beautifully over a couple of days.

Domaine des Ardoisières

ST-PIERRE-DE-SOUCY IGP 2018
Argile Blanc
40% Jacquère, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Mondeuse Blanche (11.5% alc.)

40yo vines here, planted at high altitude (400m) on steep schist-based hillsides. A perfectly balanced weight and tension, with smoky notes on the nose, very frank, pure and at ease on the palate, with ripe lemon fruit, and intense mineral character (hot stone and saline) that really tugs on the salivary glands.

Domaine des Ardoisières

CÉVINS IGP 2016
Schiste
40% Jacquère, 30% Roussette, 20% Pinot Gris, 10% Mondeuse Blanche (12% alc.)

This is the domaine’s top white cuvée from a great terroir – a south-facing terraced vineyard on a vertiginous 60˚ slope where the soil is derived from metamorphic mica-schists. Yields are just 25hh, and the wine is aged in 3-5yo barrels for a year. There is a great balance of dense fruit, apricot, pears, spice with a lick of acidity and a lip-smacking salinity on the finish. For drinking now to 2024.

Domaine des Ardoisières

ST-PIERRE-DE-SOUCY IGP 2016
Argile Rouge
65% Gamay de Chautagne, 25% Mondeuse, 10% Persan (12% alc.)

Since 2016 this includes 50yo mondeuse from clay soil in Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte, whereas gamay and persan come from 40yo vines on west-facing schisty marl hillsides in Saint-Pierre-de-Soucy. Vinified in cuve, the grapes are not destalked, and given a ten days cuvaison before nine months élevage in fibreglass tanks. The inclusion of mondeuse brings more depth and complexity, with added spiciness, and also more structure to the palate. This offers an exciting aromatic range – violet, pomegranate, spicy red fruits and a very irony, stony mineral flecked palate.

Domaine des Ardoisières

CÉVINS IGP 2016
Améthyste
60% Persan, 40% Mondeuse Noire (12% alc.)

This is the domaine’s top red cuvée from a fine terroir – a south-facing terraced vineyard on a vertiginous 60˚ slope where the soil is derived from metamorphic mica-schists. Yields are just 20hh, and it’s made from whole bunches, then aged in 2-10yo barrels. From an aromatic and taste perspective, it is most similar to a Côte-Rôtie from the north of Ampuis where schist predominates. It has a stony, raspberry fruit, touch of pepper, perfect balance and a lip-smacking salinity on the finish. For drinking now to 2025.

Next Grower Gilles Berlioz →