François de Monval and Florent Girou
Founders: François de Monval & Florent Girou
Winemakers: Daniel Macault (Domaine des Deux Moulins, Loire), Étienne Besancenot (Château de Caraguilhes, Aude), Florent Girou (Château Combrillac, Dordogne), Gilles Bonnefoy (Vins de la Madone, Auvergne), Ingrid Nueil (Domaine Purviti, Vaucluse), Pierre Pages (Domaine de Bridau, Languedoc), Thomas Blard (Domaine Blard & Fils, Savoie), Benoit Brazilier (Domaine Brazilier, Loire)
Vineyard management: At minimum practicing organic, often with biodynamic practices
Soils: Varied by site
Grapes grown: Grolleau Gris, Grolleau Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Picpoul de Pinet, Carignan Blanc, Terret, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Vermentino, Roussanne, Viognier, Jacquère, Altesse, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Gamay, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan
- Les Equilibristes is a collective of winemakers from across France who share similar growing philosophies and wish to exchange know-how and experiences.
- Each winemaker makes a wine that’s different from their usual range, based on their collaboration with the collective.
- The name is the French word for “tight-rope walkers” because they seek to make wines that stand on the verge: aerial, elegant, and simultaneously risk-taking yet highly intentional.
Parisian wine merchant and restaurateur François de Monval and winemaker/winery director Florent Girou founded the Les Equilibristes collective in 2015. Their goal was to break down barriers in the wine world by creating a new form of open collaboration between passionate winemakers. The two friends spend a large amount of their time visiting each winemaking partner, inviting them to share perspectives and experiences throughout the winemaking process. As they put it, “winemaking becomes a collaborative process where [we] can all meet and create.” The idea is for each participant to challenge their old habits and explore new ways of doing things.
Each grower adheres to the collective’s “manifesto,” which outlines their farming and winemaking principles. Grapes should be grown organically with biodynamic practices and planted via mass selection. They seek to highlight the grape varieties linked to each terroir, whether that’s Grolleau Gris in the Loire or Jacquère in Savoie. In the cellar, wines are made with indigenous yeasts only and no use of corrective products, then aged in neutral and porous containers. They aim for low levels of sulfites, generally under 35 ppm.