Gilles Berlioz

Gilles Berlioz - Domaine Partagé

VigneronGilles & Christine Berlioz
LocationChignin (Savoie)
Size of Domaine8 ha
TerroirAlpine climate. Varied soils of silt, gravel, clay on limestone bedrock in the foothills of the Massif des Bauges. Steep slopes. 300-400m altitude.
ViticultureCertified organic (Ecocert) practising biodynamic
View Gilles Berlioz - Domaine Partagé wines ↓

Gilles Berlioz has an unconventional background for a (now iconic) grower. He wanted to live a rural life and first tried cultivating flowers, then breeding vines, but couldn’t make a living, so instead worked as a builder. After losing two fingers in an accident he recovered in his hometown of Chignin and (surrounded by his family's vines) decided to give winemaking a try.

Settling down in Chignin with his wife Christine in 1990, he gradually built up his holdings to 8ha of primarily rented vines 'en fermage' (5ha) whilst working as a landscaper.

Chignin in the foothills of the Massif des Bauges
Gilles and the Mont Granier in the background

Increasingly unhappy with using chemicals in their vineyards and with the compaction caused by too much tractor use, Gilles and Christine embraced organic practices in the late 1990s, with certification following in 2002. It was at this point that Gilles became obsessed with making top-class wines – he moved towards biodynamic viticulture and reduced the holdings to a more manageable 6ha, the other 2ha are rented to his cousin Adrien Berlioz and other young vignerons in the area.

A little like Cyril Fhal in Roussillon, Gilles and Christine look after the vines as though they were flowers in their back garden, all the vineyards are now fully worked by hand, sometimes helped by horses on steep slopes. During the busy spring and summer months, the couple is helped by a team of seven employees (for 6ha!).

In 2016 the Berlioz changed the name of the estate to Domaine Partagé translating as the 'shared domaine', reflecting the years of human encounters with workers, vignerons and customers, all of whom have helped the domaine to progress to where it is today: one of the most iconic in Savoie and France. Nowadays Domaine Partagé shares a harvest team with Pascal Quenard, Adrien Berlioz, and sell one-fourth of their grapes to young vignerons providing a helping hand as they start.

Christine Berlioz

Winemaking has evolved too, with Gilles cutting out all use of oak in 2006 for fibreglass, and recently moving to élevage on fine lees in horizontal fibreglass eggs. "Why horizontal? That's how you find them in nature, don't you? I like the natural stirring of the lees and the texture they bring to the wines when laid down horizontally." Sulphur use has decreased to current total levels of around 30mg/l for the whites and 20mg/l for the reds.

It’s also worth mentioning that they have some of the most original and humorous labels in Savoie, with the Bergeron Les Filles and Les Fripons changing every year, often designed by artist friends, some have become collector's items.

N.B. Two new cuvées were added to the line-up from the 2020 vintage – Cricri (jacquère) and Bibi (gamay-mondeuse) – they are fun and easy-going wines with grapes coming from vineyards recently acquired and being converted to biodynamics. The labels depict Christine (Cricri) and Gilles (Bibi), they were designed by renown cartoonist Michel Tolmer.

The famous towers of Chignin
20_Vine_Trail_Gilles_Berlioz_Domaine_Partagé View from Chignin towards the Isère valley (south)

Domaine Partagé Wines

Le Jaja
100% Jacquère
100% Jacquère (11% alc.)
(11% alc.)

All white wines at Domaine Partagé are processed as follows: whole bunches, long gentle press of 4-5hr, fermentation and ageing in fibreglass, light filtration and 30mg/l SO2 total added pre-bottling around March the following year. Le Jaja comes from 0.7ha of 40yo vines planted in alluvial and clay soils overlying limestone on a SE facing hillside. Still light but pretty textural and deep for a jacquère – fleshy quince fruit, salinity and a chalky lift on the finish.

El Hem
100% Altesse
100% Altesse (12% alc.)
(12% alc.)

Vinification and élevage (in fibreglass eggs only) as per Le Jaja cuvée. Gilles named this wine after Maître El Hem, a lawyer who helped him out of a tight corner after a driving offence, she has now become a close friend. Emanating from a superb terroir, this age-worthy altesse has more body and weight than Le Jaja – an intriguing nose, fine tension and balance with a hint of spice and a ripe peach fruit on the palate. For drinking now to 2030.

Les Filles
100% Bergeron
100% Bergeron (13.5% alc.)
(13.5% alc.)

Bergeron is the local strain of the roussanne grape; it gives a dense, concentrated wine with apricot/peach fruit showing more dynamism and natural acidity than you usually find in the northern Rhône (roussanne’s heartland). Vinified and aged as per the other whites at the domaine, the cuvée Les Filles is a tribute to the many women involved in Domaine Paratagé. Harvested in various sorties when only the ripest bunches are selected, Les Filles comes from a south-facing plot with a deeper topsoil (as opposed to Les Fripons). Deep and textural, this wine will age gracefully for many years. For drinking now to 2030+.

Les Fripons
100% Bergeron
100% Bergeron (12% alc.)
(12% alc.)

Les Fripons (translating as 'the rascals') is a counterpoint to the cuvée Les Filles – the grapes come from a neighbouring east-facing plot where the vines get straight into the bedrock, almost no topsoil, a poorer soil compared to Les Filles resulting in wines with lower alcohol, leaner body, salivating bitters and salty acids. Another stunning bergeron bottling for drinking now to 2030+.

La Deuse
90% Mondeuse, 10% Persan
90% Mondeuse, 10% Persan (10% alc.)
(10% alc.)

La Deuse is a memory of times past when many wines’ alcohol levels struggled to reach 10 degrees. Whole bunches in a sealed vat for two weeks semi-carbonic maceration before pressing. Fermentation and ageing in fibreglass, 20mg/l SO2 total – addition pre-bottling around April the following year. 1.2ha of mondeuse planted straight into the hard limestone bedrock, a poor soil with not much topsoil resulting in ripe grapes with low alcohol and high acids. Persan adds a little tannic structure and intense red fruits to the typical mondeuse aromas of violets, black fruits and pepper. Very sappy, racy fruit, with a wonderful texture and real digestibility. An iconic and sought-after Savoie bottling.