Le Domaine Philippe Balivet-Cécile et Vincent Balivet
Mérignat is a magnificent listed village of 140 souls, located in the department of Ain, at the heart of the wine-producing Bugey, in a montaneous valley between Cerdon and Jujurieux.
Philippe Balivet, the former mayor of the village, is one among the three historical wine-growers who in 1968 perfected the ancestral method of production of natural sparkling medium-dry wines. Till then, processes of fermentation and gasification were rather hazardous. The precautionary principle did not exist, explosions of corks were not rare and the consumption local. The method seems simple : grapes are pressed off, fermentation starts and when the must has reached 6 degrees, the temperature is brought down to 0°C in order to block the activity of the yeasts. The must is then roughly filtered and the precious liquid put in bottles topped by a cap crown and in vertical position. The sparkling process can start, ideally in a natural and fresh cellar (around 12° C), yeasts are gently back to work and the wine will reach 7 or 8° of alcohol content. Philippe Balivet has transmitted his domaine to his children, Vincent and Cécile, who converted it into biological agriculture (Ecocert-AB) at the end of the 90’s. If the vinification method looks simple, work in the vines is hard, due to the steep slope of the vineyard (which would make shiver the Bradley Wiggins in the making). The vineyards of Gamay and Poulsard which provide the ‘assemblage’ are a pleasure to the eye, as is the soil. All this exudes well done work. Domaine Balivet is in good hands. Their clients too.