Emmanuel is our viticultural artist, scientist, and sorcerer, guiding the way we think about sustainable agriculture, responsible winemaking, and the role the cosmos plays in wine.
Clos Marey-Monge Monopole is a blend of seven plot wines and you're the artist behind it. How do you produce such a beautiful piece of art?
Working in the Clos is an incredible opportunity. Not only do the individual plots produce sumptuous wines, but each plot marries well with the others. Even before we refine the wine, the blend is exceptional. When I blend the wines, my role is similar to that of a chef's: I already have all the right ingredients, so I just need to find the perfect combination of each to make the best cuvée.
What is so specific about Clos Marey-Monge Monopole 2019?
Just like 2018, the 2019 vintage has a beautiful concentration of fruit, but with more tension and freshness. It was a late harvest with low yields - a true Burgundy vintage. Our Clos Marey-Monge Monopole has great purity and backbone. The wine shows delicate fruity and floral aromas. 2019 is Château de Pommard's first certified organic vintage so it represents an important step for us and for our wines.
You've been the winemaker at Château de Pommard for 14 years. What has been your journey since 2007?
There have been many changes since I arrived! When I first joined in 2007, I took time to watch and study the Clos. As a result, the first harvest was the same as all the other harvests before me. In 2008, I decided to stop the use of chemical weeding so that we went back to working the soils traditionally. This was a challenging decision because our Clos Marey-Monge has a lot of old vines. Our yields dropped dramatically that first year - but it was worth the risk. Ever since then, our wines have had incredible aromas and flavors. The second big step took place after Michael bought the Château, in 2014. Together, we decided to pull out the all the vines from the Emilie plot, almost five hectares at once! We replanted the plot in 2016 and 2017. Then, in 2017, I started the organic certification application, followed by the Demeter biodynamic application in 2019. Both of these certifications are a real turning point for us.
How have the wines been influenced by these changes?
Some cuvées have responded particularly well to the conversion, especially Micault. Generally speaking, our wines display more energy and freshness. They're just more vibrant. We've also adopted the whole cluster system, which means that we are not destemming the fruit from the harvest. Instead, we are incorporating a portion of the stalk in our winemaking process, which has added depth and diversity of flavor to our wines.
How do biodynamic principles affect viticulture and winemaking?
In the vineyard, we follow the lunar calendar for biodynamic preparations and treatments. In biodynamics, the key principle is to strike a balance between earth and stars and each preparation serves a specific need. For example, when the vine is growing, we know it will be more sensitive to diseases. To slow down the vine growth and strengthen its natural protection, we use a silica-based preparation called the 501. In the cellar, we only do the racking on "fruit" or "root" days. The deposit removal and filtering can only be done during the waning moon. As for the vinification, we work with the minimum sulfur authorized. The bottling takes place on "fruit" days and we avoid manipulations during lunar nodes (the period when the moon passes between the sun and the earth).
What were the biggest challenges you faced during this switch to biodynamics?
You have to accept right in the beginning that nature will not be kind. To truly become biodynamic, you cannot take the easy way out and use chemical means to preserve your vines. In the short term, these measures might save the wine or the crop, but in the long term, they will only waste all your efforts. It is crucial to remain steadfast to the process, even in the most difficult moments, and not go back to the use of chemicals and pesticides.
What is your ultimate goal as a winemaker?
I always want to produce the best wines possible! My main objective is to always respect and express the terroir and the vintage. I look to translate the terroir and the year directly into the glass.
What type of advice would you give to someone starting a biodynamic conversion?
Go for it! It's such a relief to breathe fresh air instead of chemicals when you're at work. It is a fascinating, rewarding experience, too. More and more winemakers start their journey into biodynamics and we share our experiences together. While biodynamics is not a science, it is a specific way of working. The key principles rely on traditional concepts, like following the lunar calendar or taking into account notions like earth, wind, water and fire.
Is your role impacted by the major Château de Pommard transformation project? How?
When the renovation is complete, it will be a big, positive change for myself and my team. We are putting the winery and the cellars back at the center of the Château and we will use thermoregulated vats as well as a new harvest system. I'll continue to look after the vineyard and the wines in order to create the purest expression of the terroir and the vintage each year. Ideally, I would like to make the Château a place where winemakers involved in biodynamics can meet up and share their experiences. We could also provide professional winemaking courses with École V!
What is your vision for the next 300 years of viticulture and winemaking at Château de Pommard?
The biggest challenge we are facing is climate change. Our conversion to biodynamics was a direct response to this challenge. However, it does not take into account the regeneration of resources that will be needed for future generations. Today, we are looking at regenerative agriculture, inspired by permaculture, to solve this issue. Our end goal is to produce wines that are respectful of our planet while preserving the resources and the soil for our children and grandchildren. Agriculture transformed dramatically in the past fifty years and people really hurt the environment. Today, there is a movement to return to more simple, traditional, natural methods in the vineyard and in the cellar. I am sure that there will be even more innovations to come, too.
How will you guide your team throughout this project? How do you keep them inspired?
The most important thing is to find the right people to work with - people who are passionate about nature - and wines, of course! As long as I have the right team, it's easy to get everyone motivated to work together towards a common goal. The overall project for Château de Pommard - our conversion to biodynamics, winemaking, and our renovation - is also unifying for us as a team. We are looking forward to seeing it come to life and I think everyone on the team knows how important their roles are!