Nicolas JolyLoire, France
The story of Clos de la Coulée de Serrant is unique.
Planted in the 12th century by the Cistercian monks, the domaine experienced successive owners and much renown until it was bought by the Joly family in 1962. Nicolas Joly only took over the estate in 1977 when he was drawn home by his innate desire to make wine after several years spent working for JP Morgan in New York and Canada. After studying at Bordeaux University and experimenting with conventional methods, he witnessed disappointing results, so began to rethink. In 1981, he stumbled across a book by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner who in 1924 theorised about the holistic approach to agriculture which became known as 'Biodynamics'. Seduced by these ideas, Nicolas started applying the Biodynamic principles at the Coulee de Serrant and the results were very promising. The whole domaine was under biodynamic principles from 1984 and was fully certified in 1985. After years of perseverance and hard work, he finally got the recognition from the public and the experts. Nowadays, Nicolas is the spearhead of biodynamic viticulture in France. With 7 hectares planted on steep slopes along the Loire river in the Savennières appellation, Clos de la Coulée de Serrant is one of the greatest wine estates of the Loire valley. The domaine produces 3 wines: La Coulée de Serrant, Les Vieux Clos and Le Clos de la Bergerie. The soils are mainly made of schist and the vineyards of Chenin Blanc are separated by walls like in Burgundy (hence the names Clos). There are no chemical treatments in the vineyards and special care is given throughout the whole process of producing the grapes (like ploughing with a horse for example and using goats to graze the cover crop). In the most extreme vintages the grapes are prone to 'Botrytis' or 'Noble Rot' but Joly doesn't make sweet wines in such years as many others would do. In stead he believes dry wines made from rotted grapes show an incredible depth and express the minerality of the Terroir. The result is always gorgeous grapes that will genuinely express the identity of this unique vineyard through the wines and which are harvested in several sessions to ensure perfect ripeness. Today, the domaine is managed by Nicolas Joly's daughter, Virginie. Under Nicolas' tutelage, the estate has become something of an icon although the style of the wines divides opinion, not least as Nicolas is never shy about expressing his views on what he terms as the terrible cancer which is conventional wine making. He is someone who has lived and worked by extremes and his wines are for those who are looking for the purest and most authentic expression of the grape. We love these wines, as they really are the purest expression of wine we have encountered - so they are an absolute must for wine lovers. For Nicolas Joly, "Before tasting good, a wine must be truly genuine" - and he's certainly hit the mark.