It was in 2012 that the wines of Sébastien Bobinet first came to my attention, a serendipitous discovery which resulted from adding a bottle of his 2008 Amatéüs Bobi to make up a case of wine I purchased. The other wines, from the likes of Richard Leroy, François Pinon and Lise et Bertrand Jousset; all those bottles were soon tucked away in the cellar, but this 2008 Saumur-Champigny, bought on a whim, was kept close at hand and opened soon after, with no ceremony. It was uncommonly good, and ever since that day I have kept an eye out for the wines of Sébastien Bobinet. Then, a year or two later, I had the good fortune to meet Sébastien himself, and to learn a little more about the man and his wines.
Although like many domaines in Saumur and Saumur-Champigny (and Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame I suppose) Sébastien’s vineyards have a very long history, the story of the domaine as we see it today is in fact very brief. The Bobinet family have been tending vines in the region for several centuries, and Sébastien stakes a claim as the eighth generation of his family to do so. Even so, what he inherited from his grandfather in 2002 was just 2 hectares of vines, never enough for these to have constituted a profitable domaine. I believe that the domaine had once been larger, but that Sébastien’s father, who had no interest in viticulture or winemaking, had sadly sold off many of the plots.
So Sébastien started in 2003, his first full vintage, with no formal wine education, and just a few rows of vines. Today he remains largely self-taught, having learnt about viticulture and winemaking as he went along, usually at the side of his many neighbours and peers. Some of these local influences on his practices are notable, as his unofficial mentors include the Foucault brothers of Clos Rougeard, and Olivier Cousin. Indeed, many of those who have influenced Sébastien seem to come from the more ‘natural’ arena, including Jules Chauvet and Marcel Lapierre, two very familiar names, as well as Bernard Pontonnier, who ran a wine bar in Paris and was a significant figure in the ‘natural’ wine scene before the movement had even been recognised. Indeed, Sébastien collaborated with several Paris restaurateurs including the aforementioned Bernard Pontonnier as well as Xavier Amat in the making of several special cuvées, the carbonic maceration Greta Carbo in the case of the former, the Amatéüs Bobi in the case of the latter.
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