Les Trois Petiotes

VigneronValérie Godelu
LocationTauriac (Gironde)
Size of Domaine8 ha
TerroirAtlantic climate. Clay, silt and sand over molasse (soft conglomerate of clay, limestone and sand) subsoil. 25m altitude.
ViticultureCertified organic (Ecocert) practicing biodynamic
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Valérie Godelu’s winemaking story began in the early 2000s when she and her husband Denis were living in Paris. At the time they worked for big companies in the banking and business sectors but having a long-standing love affair with wine, they decided to further their knowledge by enrolling on oenology courses (Beaune) sent to them by mail over four years.

After the birth of their second daughter (Les Trois Petiotes means three young girls in French patois, they now have three daughters and three hectares of vines) they relocated to Bordeaux, where they both found new jobs and hoped that the pace of life in a smaller city would suit better. After a couple of years, Valérie decided on a complete change, having become more and more attracted by the idea of working in the vines, she did harvest and vinification locally, followed by various stages learning about vineyard management.

She began to look around for parcels of vines to rent which led her to SAFER, an organization that helps to connect farmers to available agricultural land all over France, and with their help she managed to secure a single block of 3ha of vines in Tauriac, about a 30-minute drive from the family home in Bordeaux. Here the vines were already 40yo and the previous owner hadn’t used any chemicals in the vines for ten years (through neglect rather than an attachment to organics!). The vines were planted with a narrow 1.5m between the rows, in contrast to neighbours’ vines planted at a more tractor friendly 1.8 or 2m, and this necessitated the purchase of a dinky 1970s Fiat tractor, narrow and lightweight to avoid too much compaction.

The other attraction was that almost uniquely in Bordeaux, the vineyards (that yields less than 20hh in average) were planted with a majority of 40yo malbec, more particularly the malbec à queue rouge, the original strain of the variety that gives much more complex aromatics and flavours (and not the strain selected by the INRA research body for high yields). Fruit trees are scattered through her vines, useful for biodiversity, and she picks herbs and flowers (e.g. dandelion flowers, horsetail, nettles, ferns, oak bark) from which she makes tisanes to spray for protection against mildew and other diseases. The grass is allowed to grow throughout the rows and chickens roam freely in the vines acting as pest control.

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Valérie Godelu
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Valérie built a simple chai on land right at the edge of her vineyard, where destalking is done by hand so that the grapes are largely intact when transferred to the fermenting vat, and given the quantities are so small, there is usually some air exposure and some carbonic maceration which help to give a wider aromatic complexity.

As an aside, Valérie is a very good cook, and she is always guided by how wine interacts with food, its sapidity and freshness is crucial. She is not a fan of most Bordeaux wines as she finds them “overpowering, flabby, oaky, lacking freshness, linear, boring, and don’t change much in the glass hours after being opened!”

Back to the cave, she keeps the cap moist during a five to six weeks fermentation and maceration, and other than that doesn’t touch the juice, leaving it to infuse on the skins. She utilises a small basket press, before transfer into old barrels which she buys from friends working organically. After around a two-year élevage she bottles unfined and unfiltered, and from 2014 stopped using sulphur altogether. Unsurprisingly, her wines have exceptional fruit and textures, with energy, freshness and salinity that set them apart.

Life dealt the family a severe blow when the eldest daughter contracted cancer and was very seriously ill throughout 2016, and Valérie put aside her work to nurse her. Not a single bottle was made in that year, nor sadly in 2017 due to frost. It’s uplifting to report that her daughter has now recovered and is in remission, and at the same time, Valérie has decided to go even deeper with her work by renting an additional 5ha of cabernet franc and merlot vines in 2018, which came complete with a fruit and veg garden. Right from the start, she is working these vines biodynamically, pulling out 1ha of cabernet franc unsuited to the terroir, and replacing by co-planting with white varieties. More on this exciting project soon!

Les Trois Petiotes Wines

Les Trois Petiotes

CÔTES-DE-BOURG 2014
50% Merlot, 35% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc (13.4% alc.)

A very unique blend in Bordeaux at present (with so much malbec), this is a beautiful, hand-crafted wine made biodynamically from just 3ha of vines. Aged in 1-3yo barrels it has been very sensitively and gently extracted, giving on the nose a wine with blackcurrants, violet, menthol and cooked prunes. It is ripe but supple and very silky on the palate, with perfect acidity and long finish with a lot of freshness. Valérie uses minute levels of sulphur (13mg/l) and this helps to give the wine a very digeste quality.

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