France’s 50 best winemakers: Marie-Andrée and Marie-Christine Mugneret of Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg

“When we arrived on the scene, there were very few women in this profession,” recount two sisters who co-own and manage this exceptional Burgundy estate.

Occupying the #2 position in Le Figaro Vin’s ranking of France’s Best Winemakers 2023 are Marie-Andrée Nauleau-Mugneret and Marie-Christine Teillaud-Mugneret of Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg. One of Burgundy’s hidden treasures, their domaine is today considered to be a jewel in the region’s crown, despite its understated discretion.

The pair’s father, Georges Mugneret, believed, “It is not a job for women!”. Following his untimely death in 1988, the sisters were faced with a dilemma: should they sell their precious plots to the buyer their father had found before his death, or should they rise to the challenge of taking over the estate? In a heartwarming turn of events, the buyer stepped back chivalrously from the deal, encouraging their mother, Jacqueline, to allow her daughters to write a new chapter in the family history. For Marie-Christine, a pharmacist by trade and already a mother, this entry into the world of wine was unexpected. By contrast, her sister Marie-Andrée, nine years her junior, had always dreamed of working alongside their father. Barely 20 at the time of his death, the young woman was already immersed in her oenology studies. Marie-Christine was the first to join the estate in 1988, and Marie-Andrée followed her when she finished her studies three years later.

The Mugneret sisters, who together represent the third generation of winemakers in the family, make a formidable team, with Marie-Christine in the cellar, and Marie-Andrée in the vineyard. The two women have not lost their taste for hard work, even after more than thirty years at the helm. Today, their wines are every bit as good as their better-known Vosne-Romanée neighbours: caressing, full-bodied and sumptuous, they are the ultimate expression of the extraordinary purity and finesse of Pinot Noir.

How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Marie-Christine Teillaud-Mugneret: Unlike a sporting champion, you don’t necessarily realise straight away that you’re a wine champion. It’s during the various tastings that you realise that you’ve succeeded with the vintage.

Marie-Andrée Nauleau-Mugneret: I’d never asked myself that question. The idea of being wine champions is somewhat abstract for us.

How long have you been training?

M-C-T-M: For 35 years. As the eldest sister, I started first, in 1988, because Marie-Andrée hadn’t yet finished her oenology studies, so I’ve had three more years with the estate.

M-A-N-M: That makes it 32 years for me, officially, but it’s a profession that we were familiar with long before that, when we were children.

Who are your mentors?

M-A-N-M:  In the truest sense, it was our father, because he was the person we worked with the most. We lost him at a very young age, as he died at 59. We also have memories of what our grandfather, who was an excellent craftsman, told us, so we have two different mentors, each with their own method. Our grandfather’s method was more traditional, while our father’s was more innovative. Another of our mentors are the vintages we’ve experienced, year after year.

Is winemaking a team sport?

M-C-T-M: Yes, it would be complicated to be a winemaker on your own. We inevitably have to work with other people.

M-A-N-M: When harvest rolls around, which is the culmination of a year’s work in the vineyards, we really feel the cohesion of the team. That’s the strength of our work!

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

M-A-N-M: Both. The winemaker must work in perfect harmony with the terroir. If the winemaker does not adapt to the terroir, or if he or she lets the riches offered by the terroir go to waste, there will be no good wine.

M-C-T-M: With a difficult terroir, even the best winemaker will not be able to express perfectly his art.

To what do you owe your success?

M-A-N-M: We owe it to the education and legacy that has been handed to us. I’m not talking about inheritance when I say legacy, but the work ethic that was instilled in us. When Marie-Christine and I took over the estate in 1988, before even thinking about satisfying the wine critics, it was absolutely essential that we got each vintage right, that we did our job as well as we could. That is what has enabled us to climb the rungs of this magnificent profession, one by one. We also owe it to the support of our mother, who has played a key role, even though she was never involved in the production.

M-C-T-M: We had grandparents and parents who encouraged us to focus on the smallest details. Just skimming the surface wasn’t enough.

Are your daughters proud of you?

M-C-T-M: I think so, yes.

M-A-N-M: Yes, but not necessarily in terms of professional success. I think they’re especially proud of the fact that, as women and mothers, we’ve managed to make our mark, vintage after vintage. In 1988, when we arrived on the scene, there were very few women in this profession. We didn’t have any brothers or cousins, so we had to push on. I think our daughters are prouder of that aspect than of the estate’s reputation, which came later.

Who is your most important sponsor?

M-A-N-M: Nature, the perfect suitability of the Pinot Noir grape variety, which we are lucky enough to grow, and these terroirs, microscopic on a global scale, which we are lucky enough to manage.

M-C-T-M: Nature can be our best supporter, just as it can be our most terrible adversary.

What’s your favourite colour?

M-C-T-M: Blue, matched with ruby.

M-A-N-M: Blue, too, because it’s the colour of the sky and of the sea.

M-C-T-M: Sometimes, when we arrive in the morning, we are dressed practically the same, even without meaning to.

Your favourite grape variety?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): Pinot Noir!

M-A-N-M: We’re so lucky to have been born here! Pinot Noir offers unrivalled delicacy and variety. Even when it’s grown in other regions, it’s a grape variety that captivates us.

Your favourite wine?

M-C-T-M: I like the Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Chaignots, it’s a safe bet, whatever the vintage, whatever the moment, whoever you open it with. I often compare wines to people, and for me it’s a reliable friend you can count on.

M-A-N-M: For me, it’s the Ruchottes-Chambertin (Grand Cru, ed.). I remember very well when our father bought the plot, because it was a wonderful story involving the Rousseau family. It’s a wine that has charmed everyone, like a new-born baby that wasn’t expected. It’s not exuberant, but delicate.

What’s your favourite vintage?

M-A-N-M: 2002. We liked it so much that, unfortunately, we don’t have much left in the cellar. It offered the generosity of a sun-drenched vintage, but with the great delicacy of a cooler, wetter year.

M-C-T-M: For me, it would be the 2012, ten years later. It’s a vintage full of finesse, which admirably expresses all the terroirs. With this vintage, produced in small quantities, we really have the expression of Pinot Noir from each of them. In fact, I think it’s because we had a small quantity that we were able to achieve this definition and precision.

M-A-N-M: To conclude, we could say that our favourite vintage is always the next one!

If your wine were a person, who would it be?

M-C-T-M:  Each wine has its own personality and, as in a family, each is different from its brother or cousin, with similarities and differences. Each sets itself apart: Chaignots, for example, is the reliable friend, while Chambolle-Musigny is more delicate.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

M-C-T-M: Wine should remain convivial and provide pleasure. You need to be in good company, or already in a good frame of mind. If you are tired or stressed, you should give up on the idea of tasting.

M-A-N-M: Being “in good company” can just mean being with one other person.

M-C-T-M: You need to be with people you feel comfortable with, with whom you want to talk and share.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): Oh no!

M-A-N-M: During the harvest, we pump ourselves full of vitamin C or treat ourselves to a little chocolate.

M-C-T-M:  A gourmet treat is the only kind of enhancement we allow ourselves!

M-A-N-M: The fruit we harvest has to be the only ingredient in our cuvées, meaning that it’s the terroir, the fruit, and the weather conditions of the year that really make the vintage. If we tamper with any one of these three factors, we won’t get the balance we want.

And what about chaptalisation?

M-A-N-M: I discovered chaptalisation with my grandfather, who was in favour of very moderate chaptalisation. By adding a little sugar, it allows the vats to ferment a little longer, so you gain complexity. I call this support, not chemical enhancement. It’s the banana Rafael Nadal needs when a match drags on too long.

At what price would you be prepared to sell your domaine?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): At no price.

M-A-N-M: It’s a question we had to face when our father died. He was an ophthalmologist as well as working on the estate, so he was juggling two roles. He had a completely devoted wife, our mother, who made life run smoothly for him every day. When he knew he was going to die, he said to himself: “If my daughters do this job, they’ll never be able to be mothers. That can’t happen!” He insisted that his chartered accountant find him a buyer a few days before his death. When our father died, the buyer came to see our mother. He said to her: “Look, I promised your husband that I would buy your property. I didn’t discuss the price with him, and I’m not here to discuss the price with you, I’m here to tell you: ‘Try it with your daughters, it’s worth giving it a go!’.” He was an extraordinary person because he could very well have said: “Your husband promised me, he made a commitment”. We have enormous respect for this magnanimous man.

Who is your most formidable opponent in Burgundy?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): The weather, the climate, nature.

What is your greatest achievement?

M-C-T-M: I think it’s having succeeded both in being a mother and in maintaining the estate, and in doing both at the same time. I hope I haven’t neglected either my children or the estate along the way.

M-A-N-M: It’s exactly the same for me, and, what’s more, for the fact that our daughters decided to join us of their own volition (the two sisters each have two daughters, ed.). It was their choice; we never forced them to do it. One day, in 2016, we were having a family meal, just talking, and Marie-Christine and I said: “Look, we’re getting on a bit. It’s a tough business we’re in. If none of you want to take over the business, we’ll understand, but we’re going to have to make a decision”. And our daughters all stopped eating, and said, “But that can’t happen! You mustn’t even think about selling. Give us time to come back to the estate!”. And that is what happened, slowly but surely. Today, three of them work with us and the fourth, Clémence, Marie-Christine’s second daughter, is a lawyer specialising in rural law.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the cellar?

M-C-T-M: In the cellar, I try to instil the importance of attention to detail in Lucie (Hinterlang-Teillaud, ed.), who works with me on blending, bottling, and so on. There are lots of things that she’s already grasped in broad terms and in terms of technique, but I push her to go further and further into the finer details. I ask her to check things and then check them again, to think things through and then think them through again, to go over things and then go over them again. It is a little OCD!

And in the vineyard?

M-A-N-M: Our best tactic is to keep listening to and learning from the vines, and to be constantly seeking balance. You must be attentive, not get stuck in your ways, and try to understand and interpret.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): Our daughters!

M-A-N-M: Now the challenge is to pass the baton. We’re running around the estate to ensure a smooth handover, but we still want to keep on running for a while!

M-C-T-M: As Marie-Andrée says, we don’t want to stop here. I’d like to continue running very gently, without leaving the domaine completely.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Lalou Bize-Leroy of Domaine Leroy

Exclusive interview with Lalou Bize-Leroy, Burgundy doyenne and wine legend: “Natural wine is complete nonsense”.

At 91, Marcelle Bize-Leroy, more commonly known as Lalou, from Domaine Leroy, is a force of nature. Standing at #5 in our rankings, we met her on her home turf in Auxey-Duresses.

The proud daughter of a winemaker father, Lalou Bize-Leroy founded her own négociant business and produced her first wines in 1955. Pioneering biodynamic viticulture in the rather conservative Burgundy region, she quickly gained a cult following, inspiring many of her peers both in France and across the globe. Cultivating an approach based more on instinct than on science, she sees her vines as living individuals, and likes to think that each wine is endowed with its own personality. Thanks to their unique resonance, her cuvées now reach stratospheric prices, particularly at auction.

Wife of the late Marcel Bize, who died in an accident in 2004, and co-manager of the legendary Domaine de la Romanée-Conti between 1974 and 1992 (in which she remains a shareholder), Lalou Bize-Leroy is wine royalty. It was an immense honour to meet her for an exclusive interview.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Lalou Bize-Leroy: I certainly don’t see myself as a champion, I’m an apprentice, somewhat studious, very studious actually. And every year I learn something.

Have you been training for long?

I tasted wine a lot from an early age; my father even brought wine to my lips when I was born. As a child, when I was supposed to be napping I would watch for the moment my parents left the lunch table to go into the drawing room, and I would sneak down into the dining room and finish their glasses. I’ve loved wine ever since I was a little girl, and I still do today. I must have been three or four years old, and it never did me any harm. I wanted to emulate my father, who told me from very early on that I had a good palate. I was as proud as a peacock, of course!

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

You have to respect the terroir, which of course means respecting the vine, cultivating it as it should be cultivated and not treating it like a cash cow. Small yields are essential. We average between 15 and 20 hl/ha here. Anything more can still be good, but I think 20 hl/ha is perfect. Vines are living creatures, no two years are ever the same, and each time it’s a different lesson that the wine – the vine’s offspring – teaches us. We try to do our best, and often we don’t do well enough.

You can always do better, if you take greater care. That said, there are years when we can’t do a thing. In 2004, for example, there were so many unripe grapes that we declassified everything into generic Bourgogne. That you have to be prepared to do, above all.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard?  Biodynamics?

Biodynamics is a meaningless term. What people used to do was biodynamic, it just wasn’t called that. I was the first in Burgundy to talk about such things. Biodynamics involves taking the view that everything is alive and then respecting that life. We are, for example, all under the influence of the moon, and vines react in the same way as we do. As far as I’m concerned, I never cut them back, because I think it’s a massacre. Pruning a vine is just not right. It’s a plant – we’re not at the hairdresser – and these plants are being made to suffer like martyrs. Do people think I’m crazy? Well, yes, I am crazy. And the vines love me for it. They’re happy and look magnificent, with their tall canes. They’re free and content, without any stress. Cutting back is an abomination. I stopped doing it in 1988 because I couldn’t stand it anymore, it made me ill. The vines were happy straight away – or, at least, that’s how I understood it. I may have been wrong, but I don’t think so. Today, some people are starting to stop pruning, or to prune less.

And your most innovative strategy in the cellar?

You have to leave things to happen by themselves, keeping an eye on them, but, most importantly, not interfering constantly. I admire all those very specialist wine-making experts but, personally, I’m afraid of tinkering too much. If your cellar is too warm, then yes, you might think of intervening, as the wine needs to be just right, at exactly the right temperature. Our cellar is at a temperature of 12 to 14 degrees, with no draughts, as I don’t think the wine likes being blasted by cold air. Ultimately, of course, I have no idea, as I’ve never asked, but I don’t think it would feel sheltered or comfortable. I talk to my wines, I say “You’re beautiful!”, and to my vines, “You look beautiful!”, or “You look tired!”, or “Thank you.” You have to be present, to listen, look, smell, understand, and of course, taste. If the wine has a good, cool cellar, and is topped up – twice a week in our case, so that the barrel is very full and there is no oxidation – then the wine gets made, but we aren’t the ones who make it. It has everything it needs to be good, like all living things.

That’s something a “natural” winemaker might have said, so does this mean that you produce natural wine?

Natural wine is complete nonsense, of course it’s natural. If one lets the wine make itself, it won’t be any good. A wine still requires care.

Who is your mentor?

My father, for a start – an extraordinary man who allowed me to do everything. At the age of 23, he let me buy everything I wanted [for the estate]. He would always say, “She knows.”

Is wine a team sport?

You can’t make a wine on your own, it’s impossible – it’s a team effort. There may, however, be someone in charge. At my estate, things are mostly done according to my wishes, but I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.

What is your favourite colour?

Blue. Ever since I was little. Yes, I am wearing blue today, I’m wearing it on purpose, even though my outfit isn’t all blue. I also like white.

Your favourite grape variety?

Pinot! I don’t know any other grape varieties. I was born with Pinot; we come from the same world. Other grape varieties, like Syrah, are almost different civilisations for me – but I’m not saying they are any less good.

Your favourite wine?

We have 26 wines on the estate [Domaine Leroy, ed.]. I like them all, as long as they have their own character. You have to make sure they retain their personalities at all costs. I prefer Saint-Vivant to Richebourg, for example. It’s not that I don’t like Richebourg, but my taste tends to lean towards something more refined. I prefer a Musigny to a great Chambertin, but there are some magnificent Chambertins!

Your favourite vintage?

1955! It was my first year, I’m sorry, but it’s still just as good. The ’55, ’59, ’61, ’64. I just love them.

If your wine were a person, who would it be?

The life of a wine mirrors the life of a person. I try to age my wines for a very long time. They are either male or female. They are, variously, babies, teenagers, and – fortunately – adults too! Here we are in 2023. This 1955 Mazis-Chambertin [in our glasses during the interview, ed.] is a youthful oldie with a lot to say. He’s an adult with a lot of experience. Only wine can tell you what the land is all about.

The vine is a true reflection of the person who grows it; it’s much more than just a plant. It’s like a person, it’s a living being. It needs a lot of care – it’s capricious and doesn’t let itself be managed like a herd of cows. It responds to our actions and wants to be loved. When I go to see my vines, I can feel how happy they are. They’re happy, and so am I.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Being open, being prepared to accept its message, as every wine has something to say. You mustn’t expect it to be a certain way. Just take it in!

With whom?
Never alone, because wine is for sharing. When I’m on my own, I don’t even feel like drinking wine. And you shouldn’t indulge in it every day.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

Oh no, neither one of us needs it. Chaptalisation is not doping, it’s a form of support, and I’m not against it. If the weather is fine all year round, there’s no need for it. Sometimes you have to do it, it’s a fallback: if there’s not enough natural sugar, you have to add some.

To what do you owe your success?

There’s no such thing as success. There’s always room for improvement. We sometimes make progress, especially in understanding the terroir, the grapes, and I think we make a little more progress every year. That’s thanks to the vine, and it also depends on what the good Lord sends us. In short, I don’t think we should be complacent.

What is your greatest achievement?

I don’t have any, I’m not proud of anything because I have no reason to be. I’m never satisfied, as dramatic as that may sound, because I’m never very happy. I always have the impression that I haven’t gone as far as I should have. Wine is about striving to do better, but perfection doesn’t exist in this world. We’re happy as a family, I have a daughter who’s just lovely, and then I have my dogs.

If you’re not proud of yourself, are your dogs proud of you at least?

You’d have to ask them [Nine and Olga, ed.]. She [Nine, at our feet during the interview, ed.] is sleeping at the moment, but she loves me. I’ve always had dogs, often rescued ones. They arrive at my house – all I have to do is open the door and they’re there, it’s very handy!

Who is your most formidable opponent in Burgundy?

There are no opponents. There are only fellow winemakers who do their utmost, as I do, each in their own way.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?
A lot of people, but I don’t know them. I go out very, very little and have a lot of work to do. I’m old, I don’t see anyone. As for my wines, there’s not a single bottle I’d be willing to part with.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Perrine Fenal and Bertrand de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

New managers of the domaine: “Our dual leadership brings clarity and balance, allowing us to move forward more effectively.”

For the 43rd interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series, we return to Burgundy to meet Perrine Fenal and Bertrand de Villaine, who stand at #7 in the rankings. As leading figures in the region, they give us an insight into their passions, convictions, and savoir-faire in this exclusive first joint interview.

DRC. Three magic letters that any oenophile can instantly identify: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a legendary estate whose wines not only reach stratospheric prices at auction, but are also magnificently sumptuous and elegant, as if touched by a divine hand. This jewel of the Burgundy region, spearheaded for over fifty years by the iconic Aubert de Villaine and often considered to be the most prestigious estate in the world, is now run by Perrine Fenal and Bertrand de Villaine. Inspired by their illustrious predecessors, the two new guardians of the temple have achieved perfect harmony. Perrine Fenal, appointed co-manager in 2019 following the passing of her cousin Henri-Frédéric Roch, and Bertrand de Villaine, appointed in 2022 to take over from his uncle Aubert, represent the Leroy and the Gaudin de Villaine families respectively. The Gaudin de Villaine family has owned half of the estate since 1881; the Leroy family has controlled the other half since 1942. The new representatives emphasise the advantages of a historic system of joint management which, according to Bertrand de Villaine, “brings clarity and balance, allowing [them] to move forward more effectively”.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Bertrand De Villaine: We’ve never thought of ourselves as champions. What motivates us is not glory, it’s being out there in the vines.

Perrine Fenal: Our wines are the champions here.

Have you been training for long?

PF:  I am self-trained, but I am lucky enough to have been born with winemaking heritage in my blood, soul, and heart, thanks to a grandfather, a mother, and a whole family of winemakers, whose know-how has been “infused” into me.

BDV: In contrast, I arrived on the scene later, some fifteen years ago now, and with a background more focused on international sales. I began training in the field from scratch, without the “infusion” that ran through Perrine’s veins. I wasn’t very closely involved with the estate when I was young. It all happened very slowly and steadily with my uncle (Aubert de Villaine, ed.). There was real training involved, both in terms of technique and passion.

How long have you been co-manager?

PF: Since 2019.

BDV: Since 2022.

Who is your mentor?

BDV: I started out in the vineyards with my uncle, and Henri Roch (the previous co-managers, ed.). And then, our estate workers were also my coaches, on a very practical level. Perrine and I are a real team: we coach each other and build our partnership every day. That’s the advantage of having two people, it brings clarity and balance, and allows us to move forward more effectively.

PF: In our family and within the estate, there have always been pairs of co-managers, sometimes with one less prominent than the other, but there has always been a representative from each family. I think that our way of working is quite special, it’s a real asset. At the moment, my coach is the life of the estate, our employees. Bertrand is also my coach. And we have Aubert, of course, as an inspiration, but he’s not a coach, he’s a sage. I also have my mother (Lalou Bize-Leroy, former co-manager, ed.) who, from afar, is also a presence and an inspiration.

Is wine a team sport?

BDV: We’re lucky to have such high-calibre employees. We learn a lot from them. We have a truly collaborative community that works very well, whether it’s from the vineyard to the cellar, or from the cellar to the vineyard, with us in the middle.

PF: Absolutely. We have all these essential jobs, all these people who are crucial to what each person does and to the final result, from the labourer to the person who packs the last bottle in the crate.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

PF: The terroir, without a doubt.

BDV: The terroir, and the respect that the winemaker has for the terroir, and therefore the winemaker too.

PF: It’s an osmosis between terroir and people.

BDV: If you don’t have the right terroir and the right vines on that land, and if you don’t have a good winemaker, you won’t make good wine.

To what do you owe your success?

PF: We are fortunate to have an exceptional terroir, which others before us have been able to identify, promote, and preserve. We have the immense privilege of holding it in our hands for a short while, and then passing it on to others.

BDV: Our real mission is to pass on and preserve the space that has been entrusted to us. Although there’s a title deed on a piece of paper, we don’t own this place: it’s a national asset, the legacy of a long history. This history is still very much with us, thanks to Saint-Vivant Abbey. Our greatest pleasure, our glory, will be to pass it on in as good a condition, if not better, than when we received it.

Is your family proud of you?

PF: Pride isn’t a word that’s used much in my house. Love, support, trust: these words have more value than pride.

BDV: We involved our two families, against their will, in this adventure. We work a lot, which creates constraints. I’m rather proud of them for accepting this. I hope that when our children see us working, they realise that it’s by working that we manage to have little comforts, little pleasures, and good times to share with others.

Your favourite sponsor?

PF: Lovers of our wines, who are moved when they open a bottle, quite apart from any question of price or snobbery, who rediscover the joy of celebrating a moment in life.

BDV: As Perrine says, the only thing that interests us is the emotion that our wine will bring out in a person or a group of people. Our best sponsors are the people who drink our wines.

What is your favourite colour?

PF: White, because it’s the sum of all the colours.

BDV: Blue, but it changes depending on my mood.

Your favourite grape variety?

BDV: A bit like us, it’s an inseparable pairing: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Here, we have no choice when it comes to our appellations and, in any case, these two grape varieties have proven their worth over many years in Burgundy.

PF: I’m sticking with our good old Pinot, which stands up to whatever the weather throws at it. Its expressions are so varied that there are a multitude of sub-families that we will never tire of studying.

Your favourite wine?

BDV: I have a special bond, an affection, for Saint-Vivant, whatever the vintage. It’s often the Saint-Vivant that gives me my first thrills when tasting a new vintage, but I appreciate all our wines for what they are.

PF: For me, it’s often La Tâche. In 2022, it was incredible! A real hero.

BDV: Sometimes, with La Tâche, you have to wait 20 years for its full expression, but in 2022, we had a Tâche that welcomed you with open arms.

Your favourite vintage?

PF: I’m very sensitive to new things, like births for example. My favourite vintage is the one that has just come out of the fermentation vats to be put into barrels: the 2023.

BDV: It’s not my favourite vintage, but perhaps the most memorable: my first vinification in 2008, when I asked myself “What am I doing here?”. We had to throw away half the grapes, it was a terrible vintage. Perrine and I were lucky enough to taste a few 1971s, three different vintages that were quite similar to each other. I had the impression that I was almost more impressed than the people we had tasted them with. You open a bottle of wine that’s over 50 years old, and the quality is incredible.

If your wine were a person, who would it be?

PF: Its terroir. That’s what makes a wine a great success. It would be simplistic to compare a wine to a human figure.

BDV: Each of our wines has its own character. The Saint-Vivant is a very welcoming wine, like a maternal figure who takes you in her arms, who is strong and tender at the same time. Grands Échézeaux is a marathon runner, a wine that starts slowly and takes its time.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

PF: Once again, it comes down to a question of mindfulness. Do you taste a wine to show your friends that you can afford it? That would be a shame. The best way is to let yourself be guided by your emotions, so that the emotion is there from start to finish.

BDV: With my old friends from before the estate. For some wines, I’m thinking in particular of the 1971s, you want to sit quietly in an armchair, in a moment of introspection, to drink them. Other wines are more suited to sharing; they bring an extra dose of conviviality.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

PF: Yes, I often think of using vitamin C!

BDV: We improve our grapes by adapting the pruning system, but that’s maintenance and training, not chemical enhancement, to strengthen the vines and produce better quality grapes. We don’t use any chemicals; we’ve been biodynamic for years. We work more on plant cover, on microbial flora and on maintaining our soils, sometimes adding a little fresh compost. Nature does all the enhancement by itself, producing large quantities of grapes due to conditions that are optimal for growing fruit.

PF: Sugar is a drug, and the sun has given us vintages with a high sugar content in recent years!

Who is your most formidable opponent in Vosne-Romanée?

PF: The sky, and the weather (which is also our ally).

BDV: In 2021, for example, the weather was a fearsome adversary and it won the race. That said, it didn’t win entirely because we have some very fine wines in this vintage, but we just don’t have many of them!

PF: It forced us to give it our all, which is always good when you’re up against an opponent.

BDV: There’s a lot of fair play in this battle with nature, because it takes a lot, but it also gives us a lot.

Who is your most feared competitor?

PF: Competition is a good thing. What we fear most are the vagaries of the climate that could deprive us of vines for several years: an extremely severe frost, devastating hail, for example, or a ravaging fungus, such as flavescence dorée. We are in competition with ourselves, vintage after vintage, with our own wines.

BDV: We don’t take part in competitions, in the literal sense. We have no desire to compare our Échézeaux to another Échézeaux, or our Grands Échézeaux to another Grands Échézeaux. On the other hand, they are our mirrors, which can sometimes be our most formidable competitors!

And your greatest achievement?

PF: I don’t have much of an ego, so I don’t have much pride. Maybe it’s my long years of yoga! I am profoundly happy, have moments of joy, moments of sharing, but no pride.

BDV: For me, they’re my children, but it’s more a question of satisfaction than pride. I’m satisfied to see them progress in life, and to know that the team I form with Perrine is working well.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

PF: We don’t really know the word “innovative” around here!

BDV: It would be more a general feeling of never being still. In other words, winemaking is something that’s in a perpetual state of flux, and you have to be constantly on the lookout without becoming overly anxious. We stay open-minded, we observe, we try to make decisions that are reversible. As far as the vines are concerned, we’ve decided to opt for a pruning method that enables us to encourage the growth of wood and bring life to the vines, so as to ensure their longevity.

PF: We’re starting the third season with a more personalised pruning of each vine, with the aim of creating as little dead wood as possible and encouraging the flow of sap as much as possible. This requires a lot of work and time. You have to be very reactive, very aware of what’s happening at the right moment.

BDV: This approach is less invasive. We realise that the winemaker himself does a lot of damage to his own vineyard, leaving wounds and scars. And perhaps we could also add that we have to be careful with technology. It can sometimes provide solutions that run contrary to the idea we are defending. In other words, the vine must also fight naturally. We can help it by pruning, for example, to defend itself against the cold, but if we intervene too much, we run the risk of erasing all the properties that the terroirs bring to the wines and, by doing so, creating wines without personality, that don’t reflect their vintage and their cru.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

BDV: We know full well that we’re just passing through. We don’t know today who our successor will be, there is no chosen one, no pretender to the throne. It will be someone who seems to us to have the same thing at heart as we do: the privilege [of managing the estate] and the humility that it requires. Our real mission is to give this domaine back to others.

PF: Honestly, it doesn’t even matter whether it’s within our families or not.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Jacques Devauges of Domaine des Lambrays

Burgandy’s talented winemaker: “I juice myself up on Pinot Noir”.

For the 40th interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series, we return to the Morey-Saint-Denis to meet Jacques Devauges, who stands at #10 in the rankings. A staunch supporter of the Côte-de-Nuits, he is an advocate of excellence. From one estate to the next, he continues to pursue the same goal: expressing the nobility of the Morey-Saint-Denis terroir.

The former manager of Clos de Tart between 2015 and early 2019, Jacques Devauges joined Domaine des Lambrays that same year, moving from an estate owned by François Pinault to one owned by Bernard Arnault. It was “chance and a series of encounters”, he explains, that brought him to where he is today. Although nothing predestined him for the world of winemaking, he fell in love with it during a harvest season, with his baccalauréat in hand, at a small estate in Pommard. “After that, I met some intelligent people who put their trust in me”, he says with humility. Today, as head of Domaine des Lambrays, a leading Côte-de-Nuits estate, he intends to continue the work of his predecessors, while instilling a new energy and uniting a team around his most deeply held principles. Here, we talk to a modest man who listens attentively to his terroir.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

I distance myself a lot from these things. I’m incredibly lucky to be doing a job that I’m passionate about. When you get up in the morning and love what you do, everything is easy. So, I don’t see myself as a champion. The Arnault family trusts me and has handed me the opportunity to work with some extraordinary plots.

Have you been training for long?

I chose to work in the field. I have a degree in oenology, of course, but I started from the ground up.

Who is your mentor?

I didn’t really have one mentor in particular. I met Denis Mortet, a winemaker from Morey-Saint-Denis, who helped me a lot when I didn’t know anyone, then Christian Seely, the President of Axa Millésimes, who gave me the keys to the Domaine de l’Arlot, and finally Sylvain Pitiot, who I consider to be one of the greatest Burgundian winemakers, as much for his professionalism as for his warm personality.

Is wine a team sport?

Completely. You can’t do anything on your own. Before we talk about the wine, we talk about the vine. The sense of team spirit is strong because it’s rooted in time. It’s not just a horizontal team but also a vertical one, across the generations, and that’s what I find so powerful about our profession. It’s a real pleasure to come into a field and get your teams motivated by a project. You can’t have a vision on your own. You have to get everyone on board, not just the team, but your customers too.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

The terroir of course. It’s a bit of a cliché, but you need a great winemaker to make a great wine, it’s a symbiotic relationship. The climate is just as important as the soil and the work of the winemaker. All these elements have to be present for a wine to inspire emotion. That’s not to say that you should only drink grands crus costing thousands of euros. Emotion is the alchemy of a whole range of elements. That’s why wine is so fascinating.

To what do you owe your success?

I see myself as a student. Every year brings a new challenge, and you have to try new things, so I can’t explain my success, because I learn something new every year. This desire to adapt and observe is essential. You must remain humble and curious, and strive to produce pure, precise, clean wines that fully reflect the place from which they come.

Is your family proud of you?

My mother is, and always has been – that’s a mother’s role.

What is your favourite colour?

A very distinctive colour, that of very old Burgundies from the 1920s and 1930s, up to 1940. Pale in intensity, with a pinkish transparency and hints of faded pink, it could almost be a shade of tea. In a nutshell, somewhere between aged pink and tea. These are moments you remember for the rest of your life. Wine is also about working with the generations that came before us, and this colour is there to remind us of that. These are wines of impressive power.

Your favourite grape variety?

I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir, which is what moves me the most, but I also like Gamay grown on granite soils, and Syrah from the Northern Rhône.

Your favourite wine?

Clos des Lambrays has a fascinating terroir, something that everyone can see when they walk through the vines. There’s an extraordinary diversity that can be found in the wines, which have a very elegant mouthfeel. It’s because of this parallel with the landscape that I love it so much. Long before I arrived at the domaine in 2002, I tasted a Clos des Lambrays 1918, and it still impresses me now as it did then.

Your favourite vintage?

I like fragile, complicated vintages, which you can feel when you taste them. Decades later, they’re still standing. I’m reminded of 1918 or 1938, which are forgotten years, with a historic dimension.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

No idea, I don’t think it’s for me to say. Each one has its own identity, and I like to think that the identity of each wine is linked to the soil. We produce nine different wines, each with its own personality.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Whenever the mood strikes; it’s the opportunity that creates the greatest tasting moments. Sometimes a friend or family member drops by, and you’re drawn to one bottle rather than another. Those are the best moments. For our wines, you have to open them three hours in advance, without putting the cork back in.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

I juice myself up on Pinot Noir. But at the estate, we have this ideal of purity, which means using as few inputs as possible.

Who is your most feared competitor?

The hazards of nature, which are extremely frustrating. No matter how hard we work, when Nature decides otherwise, she’s always right. Every vintage has its difficulties, to a greater or lesser extent, but we try to turn them into strengths. In 2021 for example, Nature was unkind, but a few years later, I’m delighted with this vintage, which I didn’t see coming, with the grace, elegance, and delicacy that we’ve come to expect from the climate. If you’re clever enough, you can make a friend out of it.

And your greatest achievement?

To see that my team at the estate is supporting me in this project. We went organic, then biodynamic, and it makes me proud to have a whole team who wasn’t in that frame of mind before, and who now couldn’t go back. And the customers, who are rediscovering Clos des Lambrays. These are the two driving forces behind our passion.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

At the estate, we renovated our facilities in 2022, which took us two years to complete. We developed a gravity system, which is very simple: in the centre of the building, we have two vats that go up and down, and the wine flows very naturally. We have developed unique wooden vats, ones that are not truncated. We’ve had cylindrical vats developed, which allow us to use a movable ceiling that forms a watertight seal, enabling us to keep our bunches whole before fermentation starts. This system allows us to avoid using acetate and to vinify in oak.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

I’d like to find someone who thinks differently from me, not about the fundamentals, but about how to get to them. Someone who takes this estate, these terroirs, and this domaine head on and finds their own way to express it.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Christophe Perrot-Minot of Domaine Perrot-Minot

Winemaker of the family-run estate: “We have never compromised”

Our next interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series takes us to Morey-Saint-Denis, in Burgundy, where we meet Christophe Perrot-Minot, #12, who continues to forge his own path and ruffle a few feathers along the way.

The former courtier, forever championing the expression of the terroir, and whose knowledge of viticultural regions informs the expertise of his Burgundian know-how, refuses to forsake perfection in the pursuit of profitability. The winemaker, aware of the allure of Burgundy’s Grand Crus, is driven, above all, by the desire to express the taste of his vineyard – a powerful voice, both refined and gracefully tannic, which impels you to listen. To hear it, nothing must be overlooked. Although the estate sources grapes from various plots across the Côte-de-Nuits, Christophe Perrot-Minot supervises every harvest, carried out by his own team, be it in Gevrey-Chambertin or Clos de Vougeot. Organically certified for the past few years, Domaine Perrot- Minot belongs to one of the most sought-after appellations, an appellation that is facing necessary changes to preserve its nature. This challenge – to reveal what the land does not give you outright – is one the winemaker takes up with gusto.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Christophe Perrot-Minot – I really don’t consider myself to be a winemaking champion, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about.

Have you been training for long?

I’ve been training for over 30 years. I arrived at the estate in 1933 and before that, I had played at being a wine broker for seven years. This gave me a great overview of what everyone was doing: I could walk into a cellar one morning and meet someone who was struggling to solve a certain problem; a few hours later I would walk into a second cellar where a different person had faced the same issue and solved it years prior. Just like that, I would bring the solution back to that first person. This helped me take a step back and gain perspective on this profession. That experience was the intellectual key, the key to realising what I wanted to be doing, the key to achieving the result I had in mind, to obtain the style of wines that I wanted.

Who is your mentor?

My only mentors have been observation and reflection, because at the end of the day, I have never collaborated or vinified with my father. When I joined the estate in 1993, he handed the reigns over to me. For everything related to vinification, I had a pretty clear vision of what had to be done and avoided, a vision that was in opposition to the previous generation’s, who cared more about production. This had a lot to do with the education of the time. When I first arrived, I had ideas that went against those of my father in terms of lower yields, of sorting – all these things were very hard to accept for that generation. They had been told, in the 1980s, that you needed to plant productive clones. There was a time when Burgundy was more focussed on quantity than quality. We had to fight to switch gears and convince people, for example, to throw out grapes. Things didn’t change in a year! As for the sorting, we implemented it as soon as I started, but accepting this practice took much longer.

Is wine a team sport?

Wine is a team sport. Everyone needs to understand what direction we’re going in and accept it. You also need to surround yourself with competent people. You can’t make wine, let alone good wine, without a team. A winemaker can’t do everything themselves. You mustn’t forget that it takes many hands to craft a wine. All those hands, put together, give the grapes their potential. And this before even mentioning their provenance, the terroir… I also know that my opinion needs to be contradictory, and I have a right-hand man at the estate with whom I talk about different options regarding the bottling, harvest dates, and many other parameters. I think you move forward more efficiently when you can eliminate any doubt or hesitation. For me, the key to success is having a competent team you can exchange ideas with in order to move forward. I often like to say that they would be nothing without me, and I, nothing without them.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the team?

It’s always easier to make a great wine with a good terroir. But in a team, everyone is moving in the same direction, and you can express the terroir with even greater quality.

To whom do you owe your success?

I think the estate’s success is linked to the people that work there, and to our relentless pursuit of quality. That is, we prioritise the intrinsic quality of the grapes during vinification. We don’t think about the bottom line when we’re sorting them, or that we’re getting rid of “Grand Cru” grapes. We don’t calculate how much we’re losing when we discard some of them. No. We have a clear vision that is entirely based on the grapes’ intrinsic quality, without worrying about the appellation. I think for us, there is a lot of discipline and very little compromise – perhaps no comprise at all – on how the grapes that enter our vats need to be.

Who has been your biggest sponsor throughout your career?

Our best sponsor has been consistency. By which, I mean that we have never compromised. Whatever the vintage, we have always managed to keep the best grapes. “Whatever the cost”, as our president would say (a political doctrine coined by French president Emmanuel Macron during the Covid-19 outbreak, ed.). Whether we’re sorting Burgundy, Morey, or Chambertin plots, the process will always be the same. Why? Because I think all wines reflect an estate, its ambitions, its absolute character, and that of the people who work there. So, this refusal to compromise is a form of self-respect, and of respect for our clients. Moreover, everyone knows that Burgundy wines are expensive, but you mustn’t forget that there are people willing to pay €30 or €40 for a bottle of Burgundy – and I’m talking about the Burgundy appellation – which is a fortune. This might be the most they spend on a bottle in a year. And that’s why the estate’s most affordable bottle must be faultless. This is what I think.

Your favourite colour? 

Red. In all its different shades. You can find a lot of different personalities in reds.

Your favourite cuvée?

The Mazoyères-Chambertin. Because it’s an appellation that I’m in the process of reviving. Everyone knows that when you’re making Mazoyères-Chambertin, you can call it Charmes-Chambertin. For marketing reasons, or for ease, it’s sold under the name Charmes-Chambertin. When in reality it has a completely distinct personality from Charmes-Chambertin, and it deserves to exist independently.

Your three favourite vintages?

The 1993, because it was my first. The 2003, because it was my first time vinifying an extremely hot harvest. After that, I would say the one that followed.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

It would be the people that made it.

In that case, would it be you?

Even though it’s the product of teamwork, the style is personal. My team is so committed, that they will work to achieve the style that I want to see, that I’m looking for. My desired style is balanced, elegant, and refined wines. With tannins that are integrated, silky. Wines that, I would say, can be good regardless of time. I always think of Henri Jayer (a French producer credited with introducing important innovations to Burgundian winemaking, ed.), who used to tell me: “Christophe, a good young wine makes a good aged wine” and “a good wine needs to be good at all times”. It was so simple yet so true.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing your estate? 

What really led to a change in quality, beyond the work and everything we have done these past 10 years, was our organic conversion, despite being long overdue. With this organic conversion, we noticed how the wines became more transparent and luminous. The juice became much more precise. And this increased the quality massively.

For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

You can’t sell something you’re only renting, so it is not for sale.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Domaine du Comte Armand’s Paul Zinetti

Winemaker of this revered estate in Pommard: “I’m a bit of a junkyard dog!”.

The 21st interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series finds us on our third visit to Burgundy to meet Paul Zinetti, #30. Burgundian by birth, he joined Domaine du Comte Armand, among the most iconic Côte-d’Or estates, in 2010, and took over the winemaking reins from Benjamin Leroux in 2014. Today he cultivates nine hectares of vines in Pommard, where the estate is based, together with vineyard plots in Volnay and Auxey-Duresses.

Paul Zinetti is forthright and unconcerned with social niceties. As a manager who is not an owner – a rarity in Burgundy – he laughingly admits to his lack of formal qualifications, being neither an oenologist nor even the holder of a technical diploma. “I’m a bit of a junkyard dog!”, declares the forty-year-old in a deliberately provocative manner. Yet, you can feel his extraordinary sensitivity, his capacity to observe and interpret a terroir whose nature changes with the passing years, which allows him to produce wines of exceptional finesse from every vintage.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Paul Zinetti: It makes me happy, but I will be humble about it as I have never set much store by awards.

Have you been training for long?

Since I was 18. I spent five years in Languedoc, then I came back up to Mâconnais, before landing in Côte-d’Or.

Who is your mentor?

Dominique Lafon, in Mersault, and his brother Bruno in Languedoc. I have built up my know-how by learning from a number of winemakers, but those are the two who have really inspired me.

Is wine a team sport?

Yes, I’m a bit like the captain of the ship, and my team follows me.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

Both of them. I depend on the terroir, but I try to give it the best possible interpretation through my wines. Terroir and winemaker must go hand in hand. Great terroirs give you an advantage, but you have to know how to handle them, how to tame them. You will never be able to make great wines from poor terroir, although I appreciate that global warming means you can make good wines pretty much everywhere.

To what do you owe your success?

To myself.

Is your family proud of you?

A little bit, I think. They are happy rather than proud. These are things that remain unspoken.

Your favourite colour? 

Red for wine, otherwise green.

Your favourite grape variety?

Pinot Noir, which is sensitive and refined.

Your favourite wine?

Le Grand Rouge from Revelette, for sentimental reasons.

Your favourite vintage?

2015, which I believe will turn out to be a great vintage.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

It would be a Scorpio, which is my astrological sign. With my wines it’s a case of “all or nothing”, as they say. They are full-on wines.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Among friends.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine? 

Personally never, but I did adulterate my wine when I was young. That said, red wine is an excellent stimulant. We should remember that they used to drink red wine on the Tour de France back in the 1920s.

Who is your strongest competition?

Myself, first and foremost.

Which competition do you dread the most?

The seasons of pruning and harvesting, namely spring and summer.

What is your greatest trophy?

My children.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

Constant observation and questioning everything. What was true five years ago is by no means necessarily true today.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

Raphaële Tinoco, a young woman already on our estate team, who I hope will take over one day.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Domaine du Cellier aux Moines’ Guillaume Marko

Winemaker and Technical Director of the estate: “You have to give your soul to the wine”

The 14th interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series brings us back to Burgundy where Guillaume Marko, #37, creates exquisite wines at Domaine du Cellier aux Moines in the Côte Chalonnaise.




















Situated on a hillside above Givry, the estate was founded circa 1130 by the Cistercian monks of La Ferté Abbey. Nearly 900 years later it stands as a witness to the history of Burgundian viticulture. The estate cultivates plots in some of the finest appellations in Burgundy, producing the following wines: Givry Premier Cru Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Mercurey les Margotons, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Pucelles, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Chaumées, and Santenay Premier Cru Beauregard.

Since they took over the estate in 2004, Philippe and Christine Pascal have dedicated themselves to making Domaine du Cellier aux Moines one of the key benchmarks for Givry. Here, Cellar Master Guillaume Marko shares his experience as a winemaker.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Guillaume Marko: It doesn’t mean a great deal, to be quite honest… What makes me happy is when a taster enjoys drinking my wine and is moved by it.

Have you been training for long?

For 15 years. And I learn something new every day.

Who is your mentor?

Mother Nature – she dictates the tempo. And, of course, my wife who is very patient…

Is wine a team sport?

Not everywhere, but it is with us. And it is so much better that way!

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

The terroir, obviously, although the quality of the vines is of comparable importance. Without the right massal selection you will never get great wine. In a sense the winemaker is the conductor who listens to both these elements and sublimates them.

To what do you owe your success?

To the entire team, present and past, who work with such precision, day after day.

Is your family proud of you?

I hope so.

Your favourite colour? 


The king of grape varieties?

Pinot Noir, obviously!

Your favourite wine?

Clos du Cellier aux Moines Les Dessus Givry Premier Cru.

Your favourite vintage?


If your wine was a person, who would it be?

It would certainly be me.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

You need to remember to open it in advance and then taste it over a meal with friends and family.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine? 

Not for one moment.

For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

Make me an offer…only joking!

Who is your strongest competition?


Which competitions do you dread the most?

The battle against mildew in years of high rainfall.

What is your greatest trophy?

This one…of course!

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

Rediscovering how to listen, how to let go, and let nature take its course.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

It could be any winemaker, provided that he or she gives their soul to the wine.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Volnay’s Guillaume d’Angerville

Head of Domaine Marquis d’Angerville, which has been in his family for 220 years: “A musician once said to me…d’Angerville wines are Bach”.

For the sixth interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series we make our first visit to Burgundy where Guillaume d’Angerville, #45, creates some of the region’s most elegant wines.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Guillaume d’Angerville: I don’t feel anything because I don’t see it that way. From my perspective, it’s my terroir that is the winemaking champion, not me. I am very fortunate to work with these terroirs and my job is to do my best to help them achieve their full potential.

Have you been training for long?

My background is rather unusual. My father strongly encouraged me to do something else with my life before taking on the estate and I followed his advice. I was a banker for many years. I still spent a lot of time on the estate, of course, and I rarely missed a harvest. My real training only started 20 years ago. 2022 was my 20th harvest.

Who is your mentor?

I have a number of mentors. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Aubert de Villaine (of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, ed.) over a period of almost 10 years, when we jointly ran the team applying for World Heritage site status from Unesco. We worked together closely and, without being aware of it, I learnt a great deal from him during that time – even though we never talked directly about our estates or how to make wine. We remain sufficiently close for me to call him from time to time when I have a question, or feel uncertain, or want to get a different perspective on things. I should also mention two other mentors, Dominique Lafon and Jean-Marc Roulot, who, by a strange coincidence, are both from Meursault. They were enormously helpful when I took over the estate. They are not so much mentors as interlocutors with whom I can have the kind of completely honest conversations that help me progress.

Is wine a team sport?

Yes of course, you might even say that our wines would be every bit as good if I wasn’t there. I am just a team leader. I try to instil a desire for excellence in my team, but it’s the team that does the work. Good wine starts in the vineyard, and our vines are tended by a team of winegrowers who are passionate about their craft. Everything else flows from that: the harvest, the vinification, the élevage. My role is to supervise, to make sure we attend to every last detail in order to achieve the best possible results.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

Without a doubt, the terroir matters more than the winemaker. But without the winemaker the terroir cannot fully express itself. It’s a reciprocal relationship. A journalist once said to me, “Guillaume, your wines are not made they are born”. That made me realise that I am a bit like a midwife whose role is to help with my wines’ birth and ensure that they are born healthy, even that they are well brought up. When you have children, you appreciate that you have some influence, but you know that it’s limited. A child’s personality has to develop independently. You have to be there for your terroir, but also careful not to get in the way.

To whom or to what do you owe your success?

Above all, I owe my success to our very distant ancestors, to those Cistercian monks of Burgundy who understood the region and designed the template for Burgundian viticulture. We cannot overstate the fact that the Burgundy of today owes everything to those people who worked the land with quite extraordinary self-sacrifice and persistence. At a more personal level, I am indebted to my grandfather and my father, who have both played an exceptional part in our estate’s success. My grandfather was a major contributor to the fight against fraud in Burgundy, and to the move to estate-bottling. For 52 years my father was a servant to Burgundy wines. He left the estate in perfect condition with an impeccable reputation. When I came on the scene the level was so high that I had a long way to fall but, in all honesty, I couldn’t fail. I think I have moved the estate forward, through a combination of hard work, humility, and a passionate desire, shared with my team, to make the best possible wines. You have to have good people around you and that is one of my strengths: picking genuine talent and knowing how to delegate.

Was your father proud of you?

He never said so to me. Some kind souls have told me that he was, and I am soft enough to believe them.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I hope that my wife is. You could also say it’s a bottle of Clos des Ducs. My reputation, at some level, is indistinguishable from that of Clos des Ducs.

Your favourite colour? 


The king of grape varieties?

You already know the answer, Pinot Noir.

Your favourite wine?

Clos des Ducs, inevitably.

Your favourite vintage?

I would pick out 1964 as the best vintage in living memory in Volnay. Were I to choose from the wines I have made myself, then it would be a very close call between 2010 and 2020, with 2020 just ahead, though it is still much too early to say. The jury is still out.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

It is frequently said that a wine is like its maker. I like wines that are very elegant, very precise, very distinct, and very pure. A musician once said to me that Lafarge wines are Mozart and d’Angerville wines are Bach. That is high praise indeed. I wouldn’t dare say it myself, but I am delighted to hear it said.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

With serenity, in a relatively small group, and ideally in my cellar.

With whom?

With friends, of course. The main thing is to taste with people who love wine, who do not overinterpret, who simply want to enjoy the wine and decide whether or not they like it. And I find, increasingly, that I prefer plain language, free from superfluous description, and a relaxed tasting, free from endless comparisons of one wine to another.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine? 

Personally never, still less for my wine. It is a topic that crops up regularly these days, in conversations about global warming and its potential impact on Burgundy and on wine. I always say – somewhat guiltily – that global warming has some upsides for us, in particular that we now get to harvest fully ripened grapes which don’t need adulterating with sugar. Since I took over the reins, 20 years ago, I have never chaptalized my wines. The question came up in 2021 because the grapes had a much lower sugar content than usual. I chose not to add sugar and the alcohol level of my Volnay Premiers Crus is going to be in the region of 12.5% – the lowest in the last 20 years. The minute that we start to tamper with the grape juice that is destined to be wine, we upset a natural balance that we can never then recreate. It is better to stick with the natural balance.

For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

I cannot answer that question. You have to appreciate that the estate has been in my family for 220 years. I am the sixth generation. Since selling is not in the frame, you could say the estate is priceless.

 Who is your strongest competition in Burgundy?

I can’t think of any. What is deeply intriguing about this region is that we are not competitors in the usual sense. Each winemaker has his unique terrain, makes distinctive wines, and has his own following. Every winemaker in Burgundy could sell his crop several times over. By the same token, in Volnay there are some very good winemakers and we are all friends. My real adversaries are the people who make my job much more difficult, all the bureaucrats who tie our hands with endless red tape. In all honesty, it’s bureaucracy that is the enemy.

What are you most proud of?

Do you know the quote from Winston Churchill? “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

In the vineyard, I don’t know if I can claim that being biodynamic is an innovation, but it is the development that has truly changed my viticulture and my wine, and which now underpins the estate. As for the cellar, I cannot claim to have made any hugely innovative changes. I have often been asked: “What has your former profession as a banker brought to the table?” In banking every detail counts, and when you have to follow a process you approach it systematically, one step at a time, looking for incremental improvements. I have tried to replicate that approach in both the winery and the cellar, aiming for marginal gains: this year for example, we have invested in a state-of-the-art wine pump. We are talking minor details in themselves but, when you add them all up, they make all the difference.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

We have a huge number of talented young winegrowers which makes me extremely optimistic for Burgundy’s future. Many of them have travelled elsewhere, tried out other ways of working, and have then come back full of promising ideas. Plenty of names spring to mind – and not necessarily only those who sell their wines at €1,400 a bottle. As for my successor at the domaine, that question is already percolating. I hope that by the end of the year, or next year at least, I will be in a position to announce who will take over.

Top Burgundy 2020 scores from

Rounding off this year’s en primeur campaign, Wine Lister’s partner critic platform, has now published its top Burgundy 2020 scores, with further insight into the latest vintage from Jancis Robinson, alongside Matthew Hayes, and fellow Masters of Wine, Andy Howard and Julia Harding.

Explore all Burgundy 2020 scores here, or read more below.

Amongst the 36 Burgundy 2020s that earn 18 and over, five wines receive 18.5 points and two receive a score of 19 – a slight reduction from the number of top scorers in last year’s campaign, with Jancis awarding 18.5 points to 18 Burgundy 2019s and a score of 19 to four wines.

Whites continue to steal the show across this year’s releases, with four receiving a score of 18.5 and above – compared to just one featured within the same parameters last year. Sharing a near-perfect score of 19 are Montrachets from Comtes Lafon and Leflaive – Matthew Haynes describes the former as “honed, dense, and focused”, and the latter as having a “beautiful balance and drive.”

Two producers dominate’s top Côte de Nuits red scores; Armand Rousseau is featured five times in the list, for its Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint Jacques, Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes, and Jean Grivot earns four places, with Richebourg, Echezeaux, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, and Vosne-Romanée Aux Reginots all achieving 18 points.

Despite the hot and dry summer causing difficulty to some of the Côte de Beaune reds, four wines from Volnay shine through; Michel Lafarge’s Volnay Les Caillerets and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Joseph Voillot’s Volnay Champans and Les Caillerets.

Discover more Burgundy 2020 scores from Wine Lister’s partner critic, Neal Martin here, an regional specialist, Jasper Morris here.

Jasper Morris MW’s top Burgundy 2020 scores

Insight from Burgundy’s regional specialist

Wine Lister’s partner critic and leading Burgundy expert, Jasper Morris MW completed the release of his Burgundy 2020 scores last week. Below we take a closer look at his top ratings per appellation subset.

How did Burgundy’s appellations perform in 2020?

Jasper Morris’ Burgundy 2020 report outlines the challenges brought about by such a hot and dry summer, with soaring temperatures throughout August leading to a deficit of juice, particularly in Pinot Noir. The inability of certain rootstock to deal with the hot dry conditions led to the threat of dieback disease (a fungal disease that attacks the trunk, appearing more frequently in stressed vines), with Jasper noting he has “never seen as many vines being ripped out as [he] did in autumn 2020”. Indeed, both factors resulted in relatively low yields for reds, with a number of producers in the Côte de Nuits having “made more wine in the frost-damaged 2021 vintage than they did in 2020.”

Nonetheless, Jasper reported that the hydric stress “concentrated everything, including acidity”, identifying wines with “profound intensity beyond anything [he] saw in 2018 and 2019.” He describes a “universally successful vintage for the white wines”, and a “wider range of styles and successes in the reds”.

Côte de Nuits

With almost all of his top scores given as ranges, much of Jasper’s tasting this year took place whilst wines were still in barrel, as many producers were “tempted to increase the length of élevage for their wines, especially the reds, given the exceptional concentration of the fruit”. This contrasts with the majority of singular scores awarded to the in-bottle samples he rated at the same time last year, and while 2019 did not see any potential 100-point wines, the Côte de Nuits 2020s have five.

The selection includes Duroché’s Chambertin Clos de Bèze and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin, with the former released as a limited edition cuvée to mark 100 years since the Duroché family planted vines on the site. Also potentially perfect are Guyon’s Echezeaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, with Jasper suggesting the former “could be THE wine of the vintage.” Completing the line-up is Perrot-Minot’s Richemone Vieilles Vignes, a Premier Cru with a vibrancy that Jasper considers “almost unsurpassed anywhere in the Côte”.

Within Morey-Saint-Denis and its surrounding Grands Crus, Clos de Tart’s namesake cuvée shares the top score for a second year in a row, earning 96 – 98 points, having been complimented for its “spectacular depth”. Clos de Lambrays – nurtured by Clos de Tart’s previous winemaker, Jacques Devauges, since 2019 – matches the rating.

Côte de Beaune – reds

Jasper reports that the most challenging conditions were felt where grapes typically ripen first, including the southern villages of Volnay and Corton. Despite this, several reds including Michel Lafarge’s Volnays Clos des Chênes and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Chandon de Briailles’ Corton Clos du Roi fare well, the latter described as having the “most sensual nose of all”, with notes of “alpine raspberries”.

Côte de Beaune – whites

Jasper awards 71 white Burgundy 2020s a score of 94 – 96 and above, compared with last year’s 29 wines scoring 95 and above. He stresses the success of the 2020 vintage across the whites, with Chardonnay grapes retaining more juice than Pinot Noir, and benefitting from a longer ripening time. Montrachet and associated white Grands Crus saw two wines with a potential 99 points – Marc Colin’s Montrachet and Louis Jadot’s Bâtard-Montrachet.

Bouchard Père et Fils’ Corton-Charlemagne achieves a score of 95 – 98, and is praised for expressing “a really impressive wealth of fruit”. Earning the only potential 100-point score for whites in 2020, Arnaud Ente’s Meursault La Sève du Clos was particularly memorable, with Jasper affirming that he has “never seen this consistently great wine as expressive before”.

Explore Jasper Morris’ full Burgundy 2020 report here. For more Burgundy 2020 commentary from our partner critics, recap Neal Martin’s ratings here, and stay tuned for the last lot of scores from Jancis