St-Aubin (Côte d’Or)
Biodynamic not certified, sustainable viticulture
Limestone soils mixed with some clays and marls. The soils are stony, rocky even, and quick-draining. Western mostly, but Northern exposition on some parcels.
JJ and his family escaped the rat race of Paris to bring up their children in Saint-Aubin in Burgundy, around the family vineyards. Part artist, philosopher and vigneron, JJ approaches the farming of his vines with complete respect for nature and rejects the industrial practices of his neighbours in Burgundy. Minimal interference with the natural growth of the vine, miniscule yields and no additives during fermentation or élévage allow JJ to produce a strikingly pure range of terroir transparent natural white and reds that are virtually unknown only because his production is so small. JJs' philosophies are pretty extreme and so labour intensive that they can only be applied on a small artisan domaine like his.
100% Chardonnay from Jean-Jacques' biodynamic estate in Saint-Aubin, Burgundy, France. La Chatenière is the name of his home and estate where the wine was grown and made. Alongside Dominique Derain, Jean-Jacques Morel was one of the early adopters of biodynamic farming and low intervention winemaking in Burgundy. With just under 3 hectares of vines in the village of Saint-Aubin and one tiny parcel in Puligny-Montrachet, JJ Morel was, to our knowledge, the smallest practicing vigneron in Burgundy.
Discussing life after winemaking & new projects
Practicing biodynamics and regenerative farming techniques in his vineyards, all his wines are hand harvested, wild fermented, unadjusted, unfiltered and unfined. As much as these may be labelled 'natural', they are very much 'fine' wines. All movements are made by hand or gravity, the wines are beautifully settled, clean and clear.
He uses no chemicals in the vineyard but does not prescribe to a particular regime of management. He possesses only one small caterpillar tread tractor with the rest of the work done by his own hands. He stopped working the soil, instead allowing the natural grasses, herbs and weeds to coexist with the vines. He says the soil is not worked in nature so why should it be in the vineyard, plus the roots of the wild vegetation aerate the soil naturally eliminating the need to do so. JJ observes his vineyards closely and uses organic treatments that are preventative working with and not against nature and its threats such as mildew.
Grapes are harvested by hand and natural yeasts are utilised for fermentations. JJ is one of only a handful of producers in Burgundy to use no SO2 at all until bottling, an oddity especially for white wines in the region. Aged in old oak for 11 months, all his wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered with less that 15ppm total SO2 (around 10ppm occur naturally during fermentation) so expect a little sediment. Recent vintages of red wines have no sulphur at all.
The humble man behind the wine will tell you he contributes nothing to his wines, but his modesty belies a deep-thinking approach to growing and making wine. These are richly concentrated and ripely fruited white & red burgundies with savoury threads that result from the absence of added SO2 during their upbringing, all backed by intense minerality. These are true savoury wines with a strong natural accent.