Meet Nicolas Joly

Clos de la Bergerie 2009


Advocates of Biodynamic and Organic wine are sometimes portrayed as ideologues, bent on "denigrating" conventionally made wines, marching heedlessly toward the holy grail of pure, unadulterated, no-sulfur juice.  Nicolas Joly has been quoted as saying "I don’t only want a good wine but also a true wine."  At a tasting at the Astor Center on 2/26/12 he went even further, I believe, saying he would rather drink a rough wine that is true than a "perfect" wine that is synthetic.  It is difficult to take Mr. Joly's remarks as a rallying call for a march on the industrial wineries of the world though.  He makes it clear - these are merely his opinions.  He is genial, expansive, self-deprecating, and funny. Although Monsieur Joly may have been anointed the leader of the biodynamic wine making movement, he seems hardly the type of person to denigrate anything. No, he is the kind of fellow you could easily spend a very happy day with, talking endlessly about the ins and outs of winemaking.

We tasted six wines, including:

• Savennières "Le Vieux Clos" 2009

• Savennières "Clos de la Bergerie" 2009

• Savennières "Clos de la Bergerie" 2007

• Savennières "Coulée de Serrant" 2009

• Savennières "Coulée de Serrant" 2008

• Savennières "Coulée de Serrant" 2007

The 2009s were Joly's best. They displayed very nice balance and complex flavors, ranging from honey to herbs to turkey stock and german chocolate cake.  They are fascinating to smell and taste.  A bite of crusty sesame bread suggested they would be dynamite with salmon in a soy and sesame sauce.  The 2008 "Coulée de Serrant" was a pleasant wine, but didn't have the depth of the 2009s.  As for the 2007s, I'm afraid they are quite oxidized at this point and out of balance as well, tasting more like sherry than Savennières.  Mr. Joly noted that 2007 was a "vintage of heat" (rather than a "vintage of light" like 2009) and the wines went through malolactic fermentation, apparently rare for his wines.  In response to a question of mine ("Do you like your wines young or aged?") he spoke in favor of youth and potential.  Certainly in this lineup the younger wines were better.

One final note.  During a discussion of winemaking he averred that he does indeed use small amounts of sulfur in his wines, at three points in the winemaking process. No true radical natural winemaker would have admitted as much.