The story of the Complant name

In September 2016, Daniel was walking through a vineyard with his mentor Jean-Claude Berrouet, the winemaker at Chateau Petrus in Pomerol from 1964 to 2007, when JCB said in French, “You know, Daniel, that Olivier de Serres was the first to define terroir in 1600 in his work Le Théâtre d’Agriculture when he said that “Terroir est composè de l’air, la terre et le complant”  (terroir is made up of the climate, the soil and the complant). 

Daniel asked what “complant” meant and JCB said it was an obsolete word from the Old French meaning a cultivated vine or tree that produced fruit. By specifying a cultivated plant, de Serres had in fact called out four, not three, elements:  the climate, the soil, the plant and the human. Without the involvement of the human, there is no terroir. 

Daniel recounted this story to Sam and they decided to use it for the name of their new wine. The problem was that Olivier de Serres didn’t actually say that. When we finally found the exact quote on page 147 of Le Théâtre d’Agriculture, what he said was “L’aer (old spelling), la Terre et le Complant sont le fondement du Vignoble.” No mention of terroir at all, which seemed to already be in usage. The climate, the soil and the cultivated plant are the foundation of the vineyard. Still a wonderful quote. Just don’t tell Jean-Claude.

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