Emmanuel, Eric, can you please tell us a little bit about yourselves? What did you do before joining Château de Pommard?
Éric: I studied mathematics and finance, and started out my career with a short professional experience in an insurance company before moving to Burgundy, in 2011. From there, I worked for many estates in Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune and also took some time to travel to Australia, New Zealand, and California. I joined Château de Pommard in December 2017.
Emmanuel: My story is a little bit longer! I started out with a diploma in Viticulture and Oenology in Beaune but then I got hired by the army and spent one year in Germany. When I came back, I found my first job at Josmeyer, in Alsace, where I stayed for five years. I moved back to Burgundy for five years, where I was hired as a tutor-coordinator at the CFPPA (a professional training center dedicated to agriculture) in Auxerre. Then I moved again, but this time to the South of France, in Bandol, where I worked as Operations Manager for Château Vannière before taking over as Director of Domaine du Château Vert in La Londes-Les-Maures. I joined Château de Pommard in 2007, after additional training in Dijon to become a certified agricultural work engineer.
What are your respective roles? How do you work together?
Emmanuel & Éric: We take every decision together. It is quite rare that we disagree on something.
Emmanuel: Working with Éric has been a real mind-opening experience for me, especially when it comes to vinification. For instance, we had never done full harvests before he arrived, mainly because I didn’t have the time as I was on my own. Éric uses gravity much more than me. His proposals and recommendations are always relevant.
Éric: This is true actually! In 2018, we did some tests on Simone and the results convinced us to continue in this direction for the full Clos in 2019.
Emmanuel, you have been the winemaker at Château de Pommard for more than 10 years now, what are the changes that you have put in place? Have you seen some evolution within the Clos?
Emmanuel: The first year, I didn’t change anything. I spent my time watching and studying the Clos, working on it as well. I wanted to understand the Clos from the inside. I started implementing changes during the second year, including entirely stopping the use of chemical pesticides in the vineyards. At that time, I was already considering converting the Clos to organic or even better, to biodynamic. My experience at Josmeyer had convinced me. But the previous owner was not interested, and we didn’t have the workforce to put that in place--we had just 4 people working in the vineyard. The important revolution came after the study of the Clos’s soils by the Bourguignon family in 2009. We were already practicing a plot approach within the vineyard but we did not have this scientific solid basis. Thanks to the study, we were able to understand what our terroir was made of. Since 2016, when we started the biodynamic conversion, everything has completely changed, from the vineyard to the winery. The Demeter requirements have pushed us to rethink our vinification practices.
Éric, why did you decide to join the winemaking team at Château de Pommard?
Éric: The most important thing for me was the openness to innovation, beyond what had already been done, including the organic and biodynamic conversions. To me, biodynamic is not an end in itself. We’d like to go further by reintroducing biodiversity within the Clos, for example animals, trees, flowers. I also wanted to encourage plant covering to really limit the soil work. When I interviewed for the position, I submitted those ideas, which were truly appreciated and proved the sincerity and motivation for this project. The Clos Marey-Monge is the perfect place for such innovations.
What does biodynamic symbolize for you? Is it just a working method or is it a complete way of life?
Emmanuel: I am not as eco-responsible as Éric. We come from different generations and I have some wrong habits, consuming without counting. Today, I am doing my best to consume in a responsible way while Éric has been doing his own compost for a while.
Éric: I only buy organic and local products. This is really something that I am committed to. I ride my bike to go to work and use my car as little as possible.
What are your ambitions for the Clos? How do you see it in 10 years?
Éric: We’d like to move towards agroecology. Ideally, we would like to work autonomously, by doing our own compost for instance. Our model is the autonomous farm at the Domaine Prieuré Roch.
Emmanuel: Applying biodynamic principles on a monoculture model, this does not make sense. It is, of course, better than conventional agriculture, but the key is diversity more than anything! Some of the vines are really old, we need to regenerate them.
What is your relationship with the Clos? Do you have stories to share?
Emmanuel: There used to be so many rabbits in the Clos. I remember a particular year, we were supposed to light fireworks but all the cables had been eaten by the rabbits. I also saw a deer once, it was trying to get out of the Clos and ended up jumping over the wall.
Éric: What strikes me the most is that the Clos seems so small, but it’s a huge amount of work! When you are in a plot like Grands Esprits, you cannot even see the end of the row you’re in!