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Firmin Dezat vineyard

7 February 2024

They came as neighbors, from Sancerre, Verdigny to be precise, where they’ve been cultivating their own vines for several generations. Firmin Dezat, who runs the estate with the same name, accompanied by his parents and his entire team, spent a day in the land of merrandier. A day well spent.


It all starts with forest

To understand, you have to see, and to see, you have to go. After a welcome coffee and some background information on the Charlois family and group, Domaine Dezat’s team heads off into the forest, a hundred meters from Murlin. A forest road, the Réserve road, and the first stop in the Bertranges forest. Across the way, a parcel in full regeneration, next to another with oaks in the making, 20 to 25 years old. Next door, two other parcels crossed by a forest road and mature trees. Maël, the tour guide, explains to visitors about forest, and more specifically about oak, the kind used to make barrels by winegrowers. We’ll learn that one generation of oak is equivalent to eight generations of man, to get 120 oaks per hectare, you need 1.5 million young shoots, trees communicate with each other through their leaves and roots, about 7% of a harvested oak is used in cooperage, but 100% of the raw material is recycled. Oak is precious.


Into the heart of matters

The tour continues along the forest road. A parcel acquired by the Charlois group at the last Nevers auction is currently being harvested. This is exactly the path along which the harvested oaks will be following. A path which takes us back to Murlin village, to the stave mill. First the log yard, marking before sawing and crucial “grainwise” splitting. From the log to the stave board, from the stave mill to the wood yard, where pallets of stave wood are left in open air, exposed to the weather vagaries, for at least 20 to 24 months. Then it’s on to the Manufacture Tonnelière Lagrange, where barrels are made by hand, from the “mise en rose” to the laying of bottoms. Danny and David, La Grange’s coopers, explained the art of barrel-making to visitors, who were also available to answer questions.


Time for a tasting

It took almost three hours to come full circle. Three hours at the end when the whole Domaine Dezat team is invited to join us in the tasting room above the cooperage. A tasting of red and white wines aged in our oak barrels, of course!

It’s a time for talking and sharing. The Dezat family is one of the oldest in the Sancerre region. Firmin is the 18th generation,” says his father Simon, who proudly took over from his father André. Our family has done a lot for Sancerre vineyards, especially my father. It was my father who, against all odds, was the first to believe in red Sancerre. Firmin follows in his father’s footsteps..


Excellence is reached through understanding

After completing studies in viticulture, oenology, and a bit of business, Firmin ventured to California to further refine his expertise before returning to his roots. “I’m treading the same path as my family, infusing my own unique touch—a fusion of tradition and modernity. I employ environmentally friendly practices, preserving the authenticity of my wines.” Certified organic since 2021, Firmin consistently endeavors to distinguish himself while fostering unity. “I am fortunate to lead a team of motivated individuals who share a passion for the land, vines, and wine. While I’ve visited Murlin before, it’s the first time for my team. It’s crucial for them to comprehend the holistic aspect of winemaking—the forest and its lifecycle, the origin and contribution of wood to wines, various trades involved, witnessing barrel production, understanding the significance of toasting in imparting aromas to our wines. Our red wines, for instance, are exclusively aged in oak barrels, as are some of our whites. Having this knowledge is an added advantage; to truly understand, one must witness it. This visit also offers us the opportunity to come together outside of work in the splendid surroundings at Murlin.”




Each year, we welcome many visitors to Murlin. Among them are many wine professionals who come to discover the forest and oak, our traditional trades of stave-maker and cooper, and the impact of wood on the ageing of wines and spirits.



Stéphane Ebel



Photographs © A.R.R.








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