2/1/14 Jerome Prevost
Without a doubt Jerome was the most intellectual and studious producer I met with. During the course of the visit, which started at 8 am, we discussed organic chemistry, microbiology, soil and farming practices, farming methods from many different time periods, and plenty of wine making techniques. I'm glad I didn't drink too much the night before, a hangover would have been brutal. Plus it was all in broken English and french.
Provost unlike most of the other producers didn't come from a wineries making background, he was just interested in it. He stated in 1988 based in Reims so he was constantly having to come out to the vineyards while he was learning. He feels like it took him 10 years to really get the hang of it. This story is why I believe he's so studious, no mentor or multiple generations to learn from.
Prevost ties with Laval for smallest winery of the trip. He has two parcels for a total of 2.2 ha, all planted with meunier in the 1960's. He likes the planting techniques from the 60's. He feels they were more concerned with doing things right than worrying about yields, expansion, and economics. He feels the meunier vegetative cycle is shorter than the other 2 grapes, so you can escape frost, but it ripens like Chardonnay when planted correctly. He has to stop the plants from being too vigorous, so he prunes in a different way with very long canes which allows more shoots. He then does two rounds of bud trimming. These two methods, after the first year, combine to reduce vigor while giving better spacing to the clusters that remain. That being said, each year determines the vineyard practices.
He is very thoughtful about his vineyards and the ecosystem around them. He practices Organic and biodynamic farming, but gave a better explanation of the science behind it then most. Starting with the soil, there are microscopic mushrooms that help bring enzymes from the soil into the plant, these enzymes are what ultimately gives the minerality in the wine. When you use chemicals in the vineyards, it kills these mushrooms thus limiting your terrior. He feels that artificially adding these mushrooms doesn't work, so you must have a collection of different plants and herbs growing between the vines to promotion soil health and mushroom development. Doquet spoke briefly about all of this too. Additionally, he believes worms do a lot of the work in the vineyard, helping break up the soil for the vines and allowing oxygen to get into the soils. Tractors don't get deep enough in the soil to truly make an impact, so again no chemicals because it kills the worms.
He is not married to any one practice because every year is different and sometimes doing nothing is best. It's hard to try to help nature, because vineyards aren't natural, they're a construct of man. Therefore they won't ever be quite right with nature, but he tries to do his best to understand, learn, and practice helpful techniques. Yeah, all in 2 languages, at 8 am. Jerome only makes two wines, a blanc des noirs and a rose. We tasted a couple vin clairs, and then tasted the Bdn from 2011, 2010, 2007, and rose from 2008. Quite an amazing line up. His wines are pure and expressive. Absolutely fascinating. His wines are quite rare, but completely worth picking up if you encounter them.