Ormiale is a project Fabrice Domercq started with the famous British designer Jasper Morisson, in 2007 in the Entre-deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. Ormiale took their small .69-hectare plot organic in 2009 and now cultivates 2 hectares of Demeter-certified vines in the Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Francs. They work with very low yields, between 20-29 hl/ha (compared to the 59 hl/ha authorized maximum in this region). All grapes are destemmed by hand and manually loaded into conical french oak vats where the fermentation takes place without additives. The wines are almost always made without any addition of sulfur.
In July 2021, the winery moved into a new cellar – an old limestone quarry in downtown Saint-Emilion. “We feel blessed to have found that opportunity: permanent temperature all year long, darkness, silence, mineral all around… we couldn’t have found something better to continue to experiment with the juices. Already after 2 vintages made there (2021 and 2022), we are astonished by the possibilities for winemaking that such an ideal location is allowing us. It’s an extraordinary tool to do better,” Fabrice enthuses about the stable conditions and low temperatures, so crucial for making high quality natural wine without any added SO2. “I had an intuition that this place could be fantastic BUT never as much as it appears now.”
Given the area where they are located, Ormiale works a lot with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, turning them both into still red wine and rosé pet-nat. In 2022, the winery also released their first white wine called Secmillon; as Fabrice says, “no matter the « support » (red, white, sparkling, pink, etc….), an Ormiale wine is an Ormiale wine: sharp, vivid, expressive, generous but yet discreet and as drinkable as mountain river water.”
Ormiale — Back to the top
the current release is a blend of 2 vintages (60% 2018 and 40% 2019), as the yields were super low both of these years, due to bad weather conditions. Also available in magnums.
Grapes: Merlot (75%) and Cabernet Franc (25%)
Making of: 100% hand pick up and manually de-stemmed. Indigenous yeasts. Aged in 500L, 600L barrels and stainless steel vat. Bottled by gravity (no pump) without any filtration in July 2022. Nothing added at any moment.
Personality: “Reflecting these two hot vintages, the wine is dark and full of spice, with notes of plum or prune as well as blackberry.”
Ormiale 2017 was 100% Merlot.
Winemaker’s note: “An Ormiale with a lot of tension and fruit. A vintage that might be divisive. One will have to choose their camp once and for all: a wine that is alive without flaws, or a lifeless wine? We’ve made up our minds ages ago and 2017 wonderfully exemplifies our choice. Mauro helped us a lot with this vintage. Already…”
Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine ferments for 4-5 weeks and is matured in used French oak barrels for 12 months. Bottled by gravity with a nozzle filler. No inputs, or sulfites added.
James Pet-Nat — Back to the top
Natural sparkling « méthode ancestrale ».
Grapes: 2021 is made with Malbec (90%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).
Making of: Manual harvest. Direct press, fermentation with indigenous yeasts. First bottling, still in fermentation, in early October 2021. Aged in old limestone quarry at the permanent temperature of 10°C. Disgorged on order. Nothing added at any moment.
Personality: “With an almost red wine nose, this sparkling wine surprises with its drinkability and tension.”
James 2018 was 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The first bottles we disgorged have more than 28 months of aging on lees. No inputs or sulfites added. If James 2017 “wasn’t bad”, James 2018 is better than “not bad”… Very dry, and finely, abundantly and persistently effervescent. Copper-colored. Saline and “white almond” finale.
Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine is fermented for 4-5 weeks and then transferred to bottles to finish fermentation as a pet-nat. The wine rests in limestone caves for a minimum of 14 months (but usually more, as above) before being disgorged and re-capped. Zero sulfur added.
Merlotinox — Back to the top
Total production in 2017: 1071 bottles & 86 Magnums
Grape: 100% Merlot
Vineyard: the « Le Pin » plot in Côtes de Castillon, certified biodynamic
Cellar: The grapes are harvested and destemmed by hand, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, for about 10 months.
Bottled without fining, filtration or sulfur added.
Personality: round, pleasantly fruity and lush, with soft melted tannins and lip-smacking acidity. Open a couple of hours before serving to get an extra layer of complexity.
Winemaker’s note: “An UFO. Lees (Lies in French…) and bourbes (the leftover pomace after pressing) of all grape varieties that we used in the 2021 vintage (Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sémillon). Only 395 bottles made.”
Making of: The lees and pomace were left to rest and clear themselves by gravity in a vat for more than 9 months under flor (voile) at 10°c constant temperature and in the dark of the limestone quarry. Bottled by gravity (no pump) without any filtration in July 2022. Nothing added at any moment.
Personality: “With its aromas of the wine cellar during harvest and dried raisins, this white, pinky orange beverage surprises with tonic refreshment. Dangerously easy to drink and difficult to describe.”
The name is a pun on the grape the wine is made from, and sec – the French word for dry, to make it clear that this is not a sweet version of this versatile grape. Only 630 bottles made.
Grape: 100% Sémillon
Making of: the grapes are hand-picked and direct-pressed. 50% ferments in a 350L cherry wood barrel and 50% in 54L dame-jeannes. All blended together and aged in dame-jeannes for 10 months, in the limestone quarry. Bottled by gravity (no pump) without any filtration in July 2022. Nothing added at any moment.
Personality: “Early days for this Semillon sec, with notes of pear and blossom. This white wine will gain tension and complexity if cellared until at least next spring.”
A new micro cuvée, only 286 bottles made.
In the winemakers’ ownwords: “Global warming is no joke, and the vines impressively bear witness to this change. Borto – does the name right a bell? – is an aperitif and/or dessert wine. Bottled by gravity with a nozzle filler. Tremendously gastronomical and ready to provide bewildering food and wine pairings, Borto is crisp despite its alcohol, complex, spicy, disconcerting. Because of its incredible “stability”, it does not fear three weeks of opening if kept as it should. When the juice “decides”, wine always reminds us that it is generous and alive. And unique.”
Vineyard: Cotes de Castillon, biodynamic farming
Making of: the grapes are hand-picked and hand-destemmed. Fermented spontaneously. Bottled by hand directly from the barrel, unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.