Thierry Brouin of Clos des Lambrays
For the past 35 years, Thierry Brouin, 66, has been winemaking director at Domaine des Lambrays in Morey St Denis. Formerly a consultant for the national French appellation authority INAO (1975-1980) and an oenologist by training, Brouin is widely recognized as having revived the fortunes of the estate – which is mainly known for its production of the grand cru Clos des Lambrays. He will stay on as director following the purchase of the domain for about €100m this past April by the French luxury group LVMH.
Look out for my feature article in Decanter on Clos des Lambrays.
Exclusive to wine-chronicles: his opinions on natural wine, on climate change and other interesting stuff :-).
What regions outside of Burgundy do you like for Pinot Noir?
Pinot Noir is arguably the most challenging red grape to grow because it is among the most fragile and delicate. Much depends on specific microclimates. Pinot Noir likes semi-continental climates so cold winters and rather dry summers with precipitation in the spring and autumn months and Pinot Noir loves pronounced differences of temperature between night and day. So I think of Oregon as I have participated in the International Pinot Noir Celebration there or Central Otago in New Zealand. Even if soils are not the same, both regions are excellent for Pinot Noir. And you may be surprised but Tasmania can make excellent Pinot Noir, too. And in other parts of Europe, one finds fine Pinot Noirs in Germany and in Switzerland.
Can you imagine Syrah in Burgundy?
We are concerned about climate change specifically the shortening of the vegetative cycle. Before, it took about 100 days after flowering for grapes to be mature for the harvest but now it is more like 90 or 95 maximum. We see an unprecedented concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so a more rapid photosynthesis and accumulation of sugars. Who knows? In 100 years we could be planting Syrah here. After all, the northern Rhone is only 200 kilometres from here. But that would not happen in our lifetimes.
What comes to mind when you hear the word Bordeaux?
A great wine region. I love the great wines of Bordeaux. I recently enjoyed Château Cheval Blanc 1978. Tasted blind, one could confuse it for great Burgundy. It had very fine and delicate aromas and flavours including subtle roasted coffee bean, ending with a very long finish.
What do you think of the natural wine movement?
It is noble to pursue organic winemaking that respects the ecology. But there is no such thing as a panacea. I think it has become in too many cases a commercial argument, to sell wines. I do not like integrationists. When you have too many sulphites and copper that accumulates in the soil you diminish biodiversity. It is good to reduce sulphites as much as possible. Bio works fine when you do not have huge cases of mildew and oidium in the vineyard, or when it rained all the time as in 2011.