Little would we know that when Marcel Lapierre took over the family domaine from his father in 1973, he was on the road to becoming a legend. In 1981, his path would be forever changed by Jules Chauvet, a man whom many now call his spiritual godfather. Chauvet was a winemaker, a researcher, a chemist, and a viticultural prophet. It was he who, upon the advent of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the 1950s, first spoke out for “natural wine,” harkening back to the traditional methods of the Beaujolais. Lapierre, joined by local vignerons Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Jean Foillard, spearheaded a group that soon took up the torch of this movement. Kermit Lynch, their American importer, dubbed this crew the “Gang of Four,” and the name has stuck ever since. These rebels called for a return to the old practices of viticulture and vinification: starting with old vines, never using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late, rigorously sorting to remove all but the healthiest grapes, using native yeasts for fermentation, adding minimal to zero doses of sulfur dioxide, and disdaining chaptalization. - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
The Gang of Four have been the inspiration for countless other winemakers in the low-intervention movement all over the wine world. From semi-carbonic macerated wines in the Roussillon, France; to Umbria, Italy; to our friends at Presqu'ile in the Santa Maria Valley grafting a small lot of vines over with Gamay cuttings from Guy Breton’s Fleurie vines planted in 1918…we cannot understate the importance of these rebels influence on current and future generations of vignerons.