Meet These Natural Wine Producers #3

Chandon de Briailles (France)

This historic estate was established in 1834. Claude de Nicolay took over from her mother as winemaker in 1988 and crafts traditionally styled wines from one of the Côte d’Or’s great terroirs, the hill of Corton and its surrounding villages.

Already in the early 1980’s Nicolay’s mother, Nadine, stopped using any herbicides or pesticides in the vineyards and the vineyards have been organic since 1998. Francois de Nicolay, after running a wine shop in Paris for several years, joined his sister at the domaine in 2001. Through his experience of tasting wines from all over France, he became interested in biodynamic farming and by 2005, the vineyard management was fully biodynamic. The brother and sister team are incredibly curious and always making trials to acheive the best soil health and expression from their terroir.

They own 13.7 hectares and “every vine is touched.” Since 2014, they have been working with training the vines higher and longer, which gives the vines protection from the sun / shade for the grapes, and also allows for more photosynthesis, giving the plant more energy. They own three horses now and eventually would like to use horses entirely instead of tractors. They are also working with herbal infusions to boost the health of the vines and soil.

The Chandon de Briailles wines are truly gems within the Côte d’Or. They are not quite like any other Burgundy.

Anders Frederik Steen and Ann Brunn Blauert (France)

Anders Frederik Steen and Anne Bruun Blauert make wine from “grapes and only grapes”.

Anders began making wine in 2013 when he first started purchasing fruit from winemakers he admired and making wine alongside legendary Jura winemaker, Jean-Marc Brignot.

The couple and their young family have now settled in the beautiful village of Valvignères in the Ardèche, a beautiful spot amidst a wide, open valley. The many varieties grown here thrive on a perfect mix of clay and limestone and the vineyards are full of life, having been tended organically for decades. As well as their own vineyards, the two also harvest grapes with the Ousrics in Valvignères and further afield with the Bannwarth family in Obermorschwihr, Alsace.
In his previous life Anders was both a chef and sommelier, working at the best restaurants in his native Denmark. This experience informs the couple’s winemaking in that they do not seek to follow rules or conventions and do not feel the need to do the same thing every year. Instead, as they harvest, they taste the grapes and begin to imagine the kind of wine they might be able to make.

This refreshingly free, creative approach yields wines that are truly one of a kind.

“Vinification, is, for us , like cooking, seasoning a sauce, making a vinaigrette or mixing a salad”
—Anders Frederik Steen and Ann Brunn Blauert

Domaine de Montille (France)

The De Montille family has long been a venerable one in Burgundy, though Domaine de Montille’s reputation was properly established in 1947: prominent Dijon lawyer Hubert de Montille inherited 2.5 hectares in Volnay, later adding further parcels in Volnay, Pommard and Puligny. Hubert’s style was famously austere: low alcohol, high tannin and sublime in maturity.

His son, Etienne, joined him from ’83 to ’89 before becoming the senior winemaker, taking sole charge from ’95. Etienne also managed Château de Puligny-Montrachet from ’01; he bought it, with investors, in ’12.

The two estates were separate until ’17, when the government decreed that any wine estate bearing an appellation name could no longer offer wine from outside that appellation.

The solution was to absorb the château estate into De Montille – the amalgamated portfolio is now one of the finest in the Côte d’Or.

Etienne converted the estate to organics in ‘95, and to biodynamics in 2005, making the house style more generous and open, focusing on the use of whole bunches for the reds.


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