Mikaël BOUTIN – Domaine Mikaël Boutin
Mikaël Boutin © Photo A.O.C Rasteau
Mikael Boutin’s estate is one of the smallest in shipped, completes the picture. This is located in the Rasteau, but that suits him very well. True to his childhood memories of the ‘farming culture’ with which he identifies, Mikael Boutin’s two hectares of vines give him plenty to do. He also works as cellar master in another Domaine – after all, he needs to earn a living and the 10,000 bottles he produces every year under the M.B. label are not quite enough to support his family. He doesn’t see it as a problem though, and is not the type to complain.
This young winegrower founded his own Domaine in 2009 after several years working the family vineyards with his uncle. He radiates a sense of calm. “In this type of work, you have a lot of responsibility. Everything depends on the harvest, and you can’t afford to make a mistake. I think an oenologist is almost like a psychologist for winegrowers. He’s there to reassure you – but can also take away some of your spirit. That’s why I prefer to work alone. That way I can really give my wine an identity, and know that after all the work I’ve done in the vineyard during the year I won’t have any unwelcome surprises in the winery – with the odd exception of course.”
Embracing the past
The winery sits adjacent to the family home – his grandfather’s house, where Mikael was born. This is clearly the workplace of an artisan winemaker, and contains small vats, a manual press and a few barrels for testing. A basement storeroom, where labels are applied manually to bottles and orders are filled and erstwhile stable – and still features the hooks to which Mikael’s grandfather used to attach his mules. Two generations on, Mikael continues to do most things by hand, out of loyalty to the past and to tradition.
“My philosophy is to hold fast to the spirit of the vigneron,” he says, “to keep it simple, and never to forget where I came from. I am and always will be a farmer, even though I export some of my wines to Sweden and northern Europe.” Sitting at his kitchen table, Mikael tells us a little about his approach to winemaking. The key is simplicity: he has had organic certification since 2011, the year of his first vintage, but also uses “biodynamic techniques to re-energise the soils”. His vines are gobelet trained in line with local tradition, and grow in 8 distinct parcels surrounded by woodland. “This is good,” he says, “as it encourages biodiversity.”
In the winery, Mikael opts for traditional maceration; grapes are 100% de-stemmed, and fermentation times are short – no longer than 18 days. “I leave it to itself,” he explains, “and limit intervention as far as possible. A wine has to have soul.”
The result is a unique wine with a fairly powerful style – a mix of maturity and aromatic finesse. “I make wines that are a bit like me. They’re not your run-of-the-mill wines – but they remind me of the wines we used to drink at family mealtimes when I was young.”