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Auvergne, France

Vignoble de l'Arbre Blanc

Carotte & Fred

Frédéric Gounan's family has been rooted in the farming and agricultural tradition of Saint-Sandoux since the early 19th century. Formerly a mechanic for the French motorbike brand Voxan, Fred in turn launched himself into winegrowing, with the help of his wife Caroline "Carotte", at the beginning of the 2000s and was then, along with Patrick Bouju, one of the winegrowers who put the Puy-de-Dôme region back on the French wine map...

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L'Arbre Blanc at a glance

Cultivated grapesPinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
First vintage2000
Size1.6 hectares
Our favoritesLes Orgues, Les Fesses

An ode to the jar

The Gounan name has been rooted in Saint-Sandoux since the French Revolution, and the family has always worked the volcanic soil of the Puy-de-Dôme. Fred started his professional life as a mechanic and made motorbike prototypes for the French brand Voxan, but the job soon became too industrial for him and he decided to return to his family's farming roots.

His choice was wine, and while he was at it, it would be with the old Gamay vines that he had inherited from his father in his native Saint-Sandoux. With a BPREA in his pocket, he left in 1999 to work for Emmanuel Giboulot, in Burgundy, during the week and spent his weekends working his own vines. He planted his Pinot Noir in 2000, the year of his first Gamay harvest, on the western slopes of the commune, with basaltic soils; the whites will follow in 2010. The Gamay vines, too low and difficult to work, will be pulled out after the 2009 harvest. The name of the estate comes from a large secular tree that has always stood at the foot of the vines.

Today he cultivates, with his wife Caroline, 1.1 hectares of reds and 0.5 hectares of whites, half Sauvignon Blanc, half Pinot Gris. A particular feature is that all the vines are planted in lyres, a method that favours the exposure of the leaves to the sun, nothing too much in this region with a rather moderate climate to obtain the maturity Fred is looking for. The soils are worked, and classic biodynamic preparations naturally enrich the ecosystem.

All the wines are macerated, both red and white, and after many years in barrels, Fred now favours ageing in large sandstone jars, which are more neutral, less capricious and better transmit the minerality and freshness of the basaltic terroirs.

The wines are of a rare precision, transmitting a crazy freshness, a volcanic mineral energy, transcendent...

Grandes Orgues, Petites Orgues

Les Orgues, Fred et Carotte's iconic Pinot Noir cuvée. Depending on the vintage, it is available in Grandes and Petites, and this name is the source of all the speculation. No, they are not different plots, nor the youngest or oldest vines, nor even a prolonged maturation...

In fact, this difference is made and decided by Fred himself, at the bottling stage, when one barrel tastes better than another or if certain bottles stand out from the rest in terms of taste! Since he has gradually replaced the barrels with jars, the differences in containers are fading and the entire 2018 vintage has been labelled Les Orgues, neither small nor large. But as Fred says with a smile, "If one year I'm particularly happy with the result, maybe I'll put Les Grandes Orgues everywhere!"...

The village of Saint-Sandoux, France

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