20 Feb Petit Ours Brun

Petit Ours Brun
Matthieu Barret

Côtes du Rhône

“Matthieu Barret represents the future in Cornas. His domaine is, in my opinion, the single most exciting domaine in the appellation today.” High praise from the Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth.

In 1998 at the age of only 23, Matthieu Barret took over his family’s 25 acres of well-situated vines on the terraced hillsides of Cornas. From the beginning, Matthieu employed only natural, organic practices and by 2002 (his second year of production) the domaine received its biodynamic certification. With each vintage, Matthieu has gained a better understanding of his vine parcels and through thoughtful experimentation with various shapes and sizes of aging vessels, he now turns out a remarkable selection of Cornas wines that express the unique nuances of this very special Northern Rhône appellation. No new oak, no racking, minimal use of sulfur and no fining or filtration.

These same principles and practices are now being applied with Matthieu’s micro-négoce venture involving a few of his bio buddies. One of these is Rémi Pouizin, whose organically farmed vineyards in the village of Visan (just over an hour south of Cornas in the Valréas Basin) are the source for Matthieu’s “Mini-Cornas” red wine. This 100% Syrah sells for a fraction of the price of his stingy-yielding (20 to 25 hectoliters per hectare) granite slope Cornas wines. Rémi utilizes his Syrah vines as an accent to Grenache at his family domaine, La Fourmente, but Matthieu recognized the stand-alone potential of his signature cépage from this site. Matthieu’s secret source for Viognier and Roussanne to make Petit Ours Blanc is another biologique vigneron in the town of Crest, 30 kilometers southeast of Valence along the Drôme River.

Petit Ours Brun (Little Brown Bear) by the way, is one of the few repeatable nicknames for Matthieu bestowed upon him by fellow biodynamic rockstar Stéphane Tissot (Jura). For a guy who makes some of the Northern Rhône’s most serious reds, it’s refreshing to see that Matthieu doesn’t take himself that seriously.


Vines & Wines: Petit Ours Brun Côtes du Rhône: 100% Syrah from Visan, one of fifteen villages entitled to the use of its name on labels followed by Côtes du Rhône-Villages.
Petit Ours Blanc Vin de France: 50% Roussanne, 50% Viognier from the village of Crest in the Department of Drôme.
Both vineyards certified organic by ECOCERT
Soil: No granite in Visan but sandstone and shale slopes, formed from ancient marine deposits in the Valréas Basin, produce remarkably similar Syrah to the Northern Rhône.
Harvest: Manual harvest using small bins. Roussanne and Viognier are harvested just at the point of ripeness to maintain freshness and minerality while limiting potential alcohol and the inherent tendencies of the two varieties toward excessive weight and aromatic intensity.
Yields: 45 hectoliters/hectare on average
Vinification & Elevage: 100% de-stemming. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Pigéage (punching down) once a day for three weeks for the red wine. Élevage for both wines in small cement cuves. Minimal racking, reducing need for sulfur. No fining or filtration for the red wine.
Annual Production:
36,000 bottles / 3,000 cases