2019 Nicolas Joly Les Vieux Clos
Nicolas Joly, whose family owns Coulée de la Serrant in the Savennières region of the Loire Valley, is the world’s most celebrated exponent of biodynamic viticulture. Nicolas conducts sought-after seminars for winegrowers, whose lists of attendees read like a who’s who in the world of wine. But the path to his celebrity status and the accolades his wines receive began a lifetime ago.
“I was trained to be a banker, but I turned out to be a winegrower,” says Nicolas. In 1977, he returned to his family’s wine estate, where he received a visit from the chamber of agriculture. “They told me that my mother had been running the estate well, but in an old-fashioned way, and it was now time for some modernity. I was told that if I started using weed killers, I’d save 14,000 francs. Within two years, I realized that the color of the soil was changing. Insects like ladybirds were no longer there. All the partridges had gone.” Nicolas says the state of his vineyards was like an endless winter, devoid of life even at the height of summer. Then he read a book on biodynamics. “I wasn’t attracted to the green movement,” Nicolas says, “but this book fascinated me, and I had the crazy idea of trying to practice this concept.”
What began as an experiment evolved into a way of life for Nicolas, his family, and their estate. They biodynamically farm their three vineyards — Les Vieux Clos, Clos de la Bergerie, and Coulée de Serrant. Their objective for each wine their vineyards make is to create a balance of nature and its energy.
2019 Les Vieux Clos Savennières
Les Vieux Clos is the most aromatic of Nicolas Joly’s wines — and the ideal wine to begin experiencing their haunting qualities. The five-and-a-half hectares of the Les Vieux Clos vineyards are planted on the sandy slopes of its mountainous Savennières appellation. The wine’s nose and palate are ginger and coriander, counterposed by candied pear and earthy salinity.
2019 Clos de la Bergerie Savennières Roche aux Moines
Clos de la Bergerie is rich and powerful, with an extraordinary ageability. The Joly family owns three-and-a-half hectares of vines in the Roche aux Moines appellation, which is made up of schist and quartz, just like the vineyard of Coulée de Serrant. The soils of Roche aux Moines are deeper and set along softer slopes than those of Coulée de Serrant, which allow its wines to age slightly longer and peak slightly later.
2019 Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, Monopole Coulée de Serrant
The Clos de la Coulée de Serrant has its own AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), all of which is owned by Nicolas and his family. In 1130, Cistercian monks planted the site around their monastery as a vineyard, and its seven hectares have been cultivated ever since. The vineyard features south-facing steep slopes of schist and quartz, which render a wine without parallel in intensity and complexity. Coulée de Serrant is, quite simply, one of the greatest dry white wines in France, if not the world.
Each of these three wines — Les Vieux Clos, Clos de la Bergerie, and the Coulée de Serrant — are kings of terroir. Each of them represent why I love wine. I’d love for you — and every wine lover I know — to experience them.