Estelle & Cyrille Bongiraud
Estelle and Cyrille Bongiraud are the founders of Francuska Vinarija, well known in some of the capital's bistronomics. She is the daughter of a Burgundian winemaker. He is a geologist with a background in Romanée-Conti and a passion for great clay-limestone terroirs. Both have been working for more than 10 years in the vineyards on the borders of Serbia. Where the Danube serves as a border with Bulgaria and Romania. A land of wines since the Romans of Pannonia, the name of the province of the Empire.
They stumbled upon Rogljevo when their car broke down. This village of superb cellars is reminiscent of an "ancient Burgundy". Except that here, the climate is continental and the temperatures vary by 50° between winter and summer. The vines, which are perfectly resistant, give bluffing wines. The French couple soon came to believe in the potential of this clay-limestone terroir to produce complex and fine wines. But without chemical tricks. In the autumn of 2007, the vinification of a barrel confirmed the two Frenchmen in their intuitions. They signed a contract with a dozen winegrowers to buy the grapes. They took over and fitted out a superb vaulted cellar and had a press, stainless steel vats and oak barrels of three excellent wines from Burgundy brought in from France by lorry...
Natural wines and limestone soil
Estelle and Cyrille confess that they had a hard time convincing the local winegrowers to lighten the vines. Old habits die hard... In any case, the yields never exceed 30 hl/ha. And despite the heat, the use of sulphur at harvest time is less than 30 mg. No exogenous yeast is used to start the fermentation. Cyrille, a member of the natural wine association, swears by the limestone. "It brings humidity to the vines and allows them to stand. The grape variety is only a vector of expression," explains this disciple of Jean-Michel Deiss and his "complantation" (NDLR - the fact of cultivating several varieties of grapes in one plot).
On the menu of trendy restaurants in Paris and at starred restaurants
The Bongirauds have never ceased to produce precise and precious vintages, displaying finesse and freshness, for an annual production of 25,000 bottles. And they have made a big breakthrough in all the trendy restaurants in the capital and have also won excellent restaurants elsewhere, with a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in France and abroad, such as Troisgros (***Michelin) in Ouches near Roanne, the Quintessence (***) in Tokyo or the Ledbury (**) in London. In the spring of 2018, they found an associate on site who built a real winery.
An impression of meursault, for riesling
Among their cuvées, for white wine lovers, "Poema" gives the impression of a meursault, whereas riesling is the dominant grape variety here. A touch of liquorice is added to the white fruit notes. For the reds, the "Obecanje" (promise in Serbian), made from old Gamay vines, has the finesse and suppleness of a great Burgundian Pinot despite a titration that flirts with 14°.
As for the Serbia of Bacchus, it expresses itself with Istina (truth in Serbian). Like the Ottomans, accustomed to loukoums and harems, who were upset by a revolt of haidouks*, Vranac, the great Serbian grape variety, stuns French palates softened by silky textures. Faced with such ardour, they no longer know which wine to choose, even though a Balkan charm insidiously operates...
*Haiduk means "outlaw" in Turkish (haydut), a popular figure of Serbian bandits resisting the Turks.