Historically the Maconnais has lived under the shadow of the Cote d’Or, but the Bret brothers Jean-Philippe, Jean-Guillaume and later Marc-Antoine are just a handful of revolutionaries who are putting this region on the map with their vibrant, energetic wines.
The domaine, located in the village of Vinzelles, was purchased by their paternal grandfather Jules in 1947 who opted to go into share cropping agreements with local cooperatives rather than make their own wines. The brothers had always maintained an interest in wines despite growing up in the city, and in 1992 enrolled themselves in wine school, whilst taking internships with a repertoire of great producers like Ridge and Newton in California, Comtes Lafon, and also the highly revered Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynen in Vinzelles. They arrived back at the family domaine in 2000, just in time as their sharecropping and cooperative contracts came to an end which allowed them to take full control of the four hectares of vines they owned. Yields were cut, converting to organic farming immediately, with gradual transition into biodynamics to gain certification in 2006. The result is wonderfully vibrant wines which showcase great purity, mineral tightness, and demonstrates the exceptional terroir of their steep, east-facing slopes. This minimalist expression carries through into the winemaking too, with natural yeasts carrying out fermentation, use of oak limited to old barrels, and sulphur kept to a bare minimum when bottling the wines.
Their most important site, a Climat in Pouilly-Vinzelles called Les Quarts, earned the praise of Jasper Morris who has called it a prime candidate for Premier Cru status if there were ever a system established in the region. Here, the Bajocian-era limestone soils are rich in iron, calcium carbonate and quartz that when combined with the expertise of their biodynamic farming of these 45-80 year old vines has resulted in some truly profound wines. It is a Maconnais with the influence of a rich, modern-styled Meursault – highlighting the superb mineral content in the soils. The Bret Brothers have some serious talent, and are a force to be reckoned with, continuing to attract great attention to both their wines and the region. Their namesake négociant arm has allowed the brothers to expand their production by working with a strict selection of growers with old vines on very specific terroir only. Not only must the grapes be organically farmed, but they are also harvested by their own team, ensuring that the quality meets the same standards as the domaine. In the words of Alan Meadows, “If you're not familiar with the wines, I can't suggest strongly enough that you familiarize yourself with them”.