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Episode 10: Hautes Future




This transcription was created thanks to: Brittany Graham, Alissa Strunk, Andrew Wessels, JJ Dal, Todd Dodick & Ali Massie.



Brenna (Narration): Hi, this is Brenna Quigley, your personal geologist and terroir guide. Join me on a roadtrip through the geologic history of your favorite wine regions around the world. 

This is Roadside Terroir. 

[Intro music]


Season 2, Burgundy’s Cote d’Or is made possible by our season 2 partners: Becky Wasserman and Company, La Paulee, and Acker Wines. 


We also want to thank the Wine Education Council for their support throughout the second half of this season.


This episode is sponsored by the Hitching Post Wines, in honor of the spiritual connection between Burgundy and Santa Barbara Co–the location of Roadside Terroir’s very first season.


Frank Ostini, the chef winemaker at HP Wines, reached out to me following the release of our Harvest Episode, and shared stories of his own early harvests in the 80s, singing the Ban Bourguignon with Jim Clendenen and Adam Tolmack, and a trip of a lifetime to Burgundy in 1988 to attend the Paulée de Meursault. 


The Hitching Post Wines and the Hitching Post II restaurant of Buellton CA, are iconic establishments in Santa Barbara County – memorialized forever in Sideways fame -- and deeply loved by locals. They offer the quintessential Santa Barbara wine and food experience – and encapsulate the soul and the terroir of the Santa Ynez Valley.


The Hitching Post has featured West Coast BBQ at its best since 1986 – offering lunch over picnic grounds and curated tasting experiences to complement the stunning views of the Santa Ynez mountains. Inspired by Burgundy they have made Santa Barbra Pinot Noir from many of the best vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley since 1984.


We’re determined to keep this content free and accessible for everyone. If you’d like to support our show, please consider becoming an Insider. Insiders have access to lots of cool stuff including extra photos, travel guides, and extended interviews with our guests. 


To learn more, visit our website


Please, don’t drink and drive… and remember to keep your eyes on the road. 


This episode contains explicit language.

Part 1: Maranges - Cassiopee - Natural Wine

1.1 Opening – Hunt for Granite 


[Begins with the sound of a heavy car engine running; bass guitar music also plays over background sounds]


Brenna (Narration): After nearly two years, it’s hard to believe we’re on the last leg of our journey through the Côte d’Or. Throughout the past nine episodes we’ve explored some of the grandest terroirs on Earth, scoured the history books, and dug deep into the soils in order to understand what makes this piece of the planet so perfect for wine growing. But today we’re on the hunt for something new. Today, we’ll scan the Côte d’Or for appellations that are still on the horizon of greatness, and ask ourselves and all of the experts we know what the future might have in store for this historic place. As the world changes, prices — and oftentimes temperatures — in the Côte d’Or have soared. And both insiders and outsiders alike have begun to look for the next great vineyards on the slope.  Here’s Daniel Johnnes.


Daniel Johnnes: So the reflex is a little bit different now because whereas I used to go down and easily pull up a bottle of Chambolle Musigny or Volnay or some of the great appellations from my dear friends, I do pause a little bit more because the quantities are diminishing in my cellar; the replenishing of them is getting more and more difficult because of supply — it’s limited; and price — can’t ignore that small fact [saying sarcastically]. So what do we do? We are exploring again.


Brenna (Narrating): And here’s Paul Wasserman…

Paul Wasserman: Certainly, just north Beaune, Ladoix, Aloxe, Pernand, are incredible regions and very varied between the three terroirs, and that’s the place where people are finding super grape sources. Dijon is going to be reborn. That’s the chance to get in on ground zero and actually plant vineyards.


Brenna (Narration): Burgundy is a region filled with famous names. But there’s a pretty extensive list of up-and-coming ones too. Here’s Raj Parr.

[Fade in]


Rajat Parr: …around Dijon. That’s a really interesting area. Then again, the northern part of the Côte d’Or, around Marsannay, of course we have Sylvain Pataille doing amazing things , and then if you just look at the Haute Côte.. I've seen more bottling of Haute Côte in the last two years than the 20 years before that.

[Cut to Paul]


Paul Wasserman: The Haute Côte has become a huge buzzword. My only problem with Haute Côte is that it completely overshadows Côte D’, and especially Côte de Nuits.  Because THAT [emphasizing in tone] pocket, just south of Nuits Saint George and Cogorloin and Comblanchien, there’s amazing talent.


[Cut back to Raj]


Rajat Parr: …and also down in the Nuits-Saint-Georges area, Premeaux-Prissey and I think it’s going to continue to make amazing wines… Santenay, underrepresented. Maranges, Very, down south. 


Brenna (Narration): We begin our exploration of the future by heading south. Beyond the medieval walls of Beaune, past the white marls of Volnay, the fault at the top of Montrachet, the quarry of Chassagne, and into the often overlooked villages of Santennay and Maranges. These southern villages tend to have a reputation for rusticity, though, again, that tends to be a more recent interpretation of the wines. 


Rajat Parr: Santennay has already had a great past; Maranges is slightly more of a checkered past, but definitely a very bright future with some young producers already making delicious wines — and very uniquely different! Santenay being of slightly more finesse, maybe more flinty on the palate, but Maranges definitely has more kind of jagged edges on the wine so you definitely need a softer touch to make the wine and not too austere.


[Pensive music plays into transition]


Brenna (Narration): At the northern edge of the Côte d’Or you could sense things starting to feel different culturally as we neared the city of Dijon. But here as we neared the southern edge of the Côte d’Or things start to feel different geologically. 


Françoise Vannier: So we still have some things to see in the Santennay and Les Maranges because Les Maranges…


Brenna (Narration): Here’s our beloved local geological expert Françoise Vannier.


[Cut back to Françoise]


Françoise Vannier: …it’s an exception in the Côte de Beaune to find some gypsum. 


Brenna (Narration): As we continue south, the landscape begins to change dramatically. The continuous southeast facing slope of the Côte de Beaune begins to swing to the south as the Saône valley or Bresse Graben Intersects with another small valley. 


Françoise Vannier: And here, the river is” Dunn”, D-H-U-E-N-E, and its permian basins, so pull-apart basin, it started to form during the Devonian; it’s an Graben and the direction is north seventy (easterly) or something like that. 


[jumps to dialog]


Brenna: There’s the Soane rift that demarcates Burgundy and then slightly sub-parallel to it is the Dhuene. 


Françoise: The Dhuene is north seventy.


Brenna (Narration): Françoise continues to explain that the Dhuene Valley reflects structures related with the assembly of Pangea, some 350 million years ago. Geologically, things are changing here too. The systematic parallel faults or step-stairs of the zone Graubin start splintering off as they intersect with these older, northeast trending faults. Looking to our left, we can see the slopes of the famed Aligoté vines of Bouzeron to the south, followed but the tilted limestone blocks of the Côte Chalonnaise. As we continue through Santenay and into Maranges, we enter into an even deeper, older section of geologic time. 


Françoise: Those are the roots of former mountains… 


[jumps to dialog]

[Brenna adds]


Brenna: And so those crystalline rocks are deep below all of these limestone.  


Françoise Vannier: Yes! Exactly! 200 meters, 300 meters below. And in le Maranges, there are outcroppings. That's why I wanted to go to le Maranges because in le Maranges you can see the granite in one place. It’s a Coteaux Bourguignon. It’s not… It’s like if you were in the Massif Centrale with a landscape (inaudible) with ferns, mosses, and something completely different because you’ve got granite there. And sandstone also because…


Brenna: We didn’t have time to explore the granite with Françoise, so on one of the last days of our trip, we set out to find it on our own.


[Interlude music - bass guitar & drums - narration begins to add contextual narration]


Brenna (Narration): For years now I’ve read books that mention vineyards of granite in and around Maranges but I’ve never seen it for myself, and honestly, until Françoise mentioned it, I was a little skeptical that there are actually vineyards in the Côte d’Or that grow on truly granitic soils, but as we drive into the village and through the vines we start to notice erratic pieces of pink, white, and black speckled granite nestled amongst the limestone blocks of old stone buildings. It must be here somewhere and we’re determined to find it. 


[jumps to dialog]


Brenna: It’s snowing which means it's officially time to leave. 




Starts singing Christmas carols [vaguely humming “Christmas time is here”.]


[jumps to narration]


Brenna (Narration): We drive around the three villages that make up Maranges - Dezize-lès-Maranges , Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Sampigny-lès-Maranges.  We follow the landscape, our instincts, and the hints in the buildings…


[Background conversation to the narration]


Brenna: So we’re back in front of the chapel in Sampigny…


Female: Yes, we’re in Sampigny.. which.. I’m just trying to orient us right here on this map.}


Brenna (Narration continues): …and eventually stumble upon an outcrop. 


[music plays in background, meanwhile in foreground, harsh hitting/chipping at a hard surface]


[jumps to dialog]


Brenna: Pretty cool! It’s real! 


Woman: It’s real!


Brenna (Narration): We’ve found granite, but now we want to see it in a vineyard so we begin to climb up the slope, and regret it almost immediately as we get attacked by thorn bushes. 


[jumps to dialog]


Brenna: At least it's not muddy!


Woman: [*bemoans*] Climbing through prickers! 


Brenna: Just all of a sudden we’re in like, thorn prison.


[Church bell rings lowly]


[jumps to narration]


Brenna (Narration): With a little luck, we break through into exactly what we were looking for — a vineyard at the top of the slope on pure granitic sands. 


[jumps to dialog]


Brenna: You can see it! You can like, here. Imagine what you think granite looks like but on this side you see lines, and on the perpendicular side you see dots. Imagine something that was like, [pauses] that was like little circles, was stretched out into cigars. 


Woman: That’s awesome!


Brenna: Like actually, very deformed granite. Very old!


[Ladies review a map, paper is touched lightly and crinkles]


Woman: I think if we go down to our right…

Brenna, adding: To that vineyard?


Woman, continuing: Is the road right above us. 

Brenna: There were vineyards. I think like right here. Or were they right there? [giggles]


[jumps to narration]


Brenna (Narration): To be honest, we don’t exactly know where we are, and quickly realize we might be in someone’s backyard. 

[jumps to dialog]


Woman: So do you think this is granite here?


Brenna: This IS. This whole vineyard’s granite. Look at the soil. Look! Look at the little decomposed granite sands and gravels.


[jumps to narration]


Brenna (Narration): We observe what we can and scurry our little selves right out of there feeling like triumphant explorers as we make our way back to the car. 


[jumps to dialog]


Brenna: We’re exploring guys!!! [*sarcastic and joyful tone* *laughs at self*]


[jumps to narration]


Brenna (Narration): Standing here, feeling the cool breeze on top this 350 million year old granite terroirs, this area starts to make a bit more sense. And I’m blown away by how unique it is compared to the rest of the Côte. I’d always imagined that the rustic reputation of these southern, sometimes south-facing sites, had to do with warmth; but the reality is just the opposite. The size of the Dhuene Valley actually makes Maranges significantly cooler than the more famous appellations just north of us. So at least some of the angularity of the wines can probably be attributed to the climate. Granitic soils tend to be very sandy, acidic, and though they can be shallow, they also lack the richness of clay. Basically they’re the opposite of clay limestone soil and it’s hard to imagine how all of this translates to a Burgundian wine. 


1.2 Cassiopee Intro and Discussion 


Brenna (Narration): To get some insight about this increasingly intriguing appellation, we look to some of the newest and brightest rising stars of the Côte d’Or. In the quiet village of Sampigny-les-Maranges, we find Talullah and Hugo of Domaine de Cassiopee.


Daniel Johnnes: I was introduced to them by Fred Mugnier and Jean-Marc Roulot.. and I went to visit them. And you know, sometimes when you meet a winemaker you can see something in their eyes, and something in the way they speak, and you get a gut feeling that they’re going to do something and they’re incredibly passionate and committed. And I feel that way about them. I feel they have a very promising future. And, I think it’s incredibly exciting to see that; they’re a great example of passionate, quality-driven, young people going to appellations that are lesser known and elevating them — drawing attention to them where they should be appreciated. 


Tallulah Dubourg: This is nice. It’s nice moments.


[Walking sounds on compacted ground. A mental hinge squeaks]


Tallulah Dubourg: Be careful to your head.


Brenna: Oh, this is so beautiful! 


Tallulah Dubourg: So here, this is the smallest plot we have because this is Maranges Le Bas du Clos. So it’s Maranges Village Rouge, le bas du Clos. This is the more prestigious appellations we have for the moment. We are looking for a plot of 1er Cru but it’s like the rest of the Côte, it is really difficult to find of course, and the vineyard is really old. It’s 90 years old. So yes, we have in the global area, we have 5 hectares; we have in the productions 60% of red, and 40% of white — chardonnay and aligoté. We arrived on the estate in February ’20. We bought a big block of 5 hectares with the most parts Haute Côte de Beaune and a very small part of Maranges Villages and the vineyard wasn’t in organic farming before — not at all. It was in chemical; there was no grass and nothing on the soil; it was obvious for us to begin by organic farming and we’re going to be labeled next year. It’s only because we believe a lot in organic farming. And this is the first step a better viticulture. This is not the final step. But the first step, so yes. We work only Hugo and I on the estate. 


Brenna: It’s an interesting time to be starting, but when you look at vintages of ’20, ’21, and ’22; they’re very different vintages so you’re getting a lot of information. Maybe?


Tallulah Dubourg: Yes. It was really interesting to talk about it, especially in ‘21. We talked a lot with other winemakers here, and lots of people said ‘oh, it’s a very bad moment for Hugo and Talullah to begin!’ And we said ‘I’m not sure of it because we’ve only have 1 or 2 vintages behind us. So, ’21 was really difficult. So, we say okay, each vintage will be challenge, but after ’21 we are not afraid of the rest. We said ‘ok, ’21 was probably one of the worst.’ This is our feeling. And I think this is our feeling because we are only 27 and we have lots of energy, and, I understand because this job is very, very hard, so I understand when people after 40 vintages say ok I’m fed up with that. I understand a lot. Really.


Brenna: And so, why Maranges?


Tallulah Dubourg: At the beginning Hugo told me at the end of our studies in Bordeaux, he said ‘ok I’m going to work in burgundy because I’m completely  fan of Burgundy since many years.’ I said ‘ok, I’m really curious.” So I made an internship in Clos de Tart when it was with Frederic Mugnier and then my schools said ok, it’s good thing if you can do an internship in a foreign country. Ok, I said I need to go in Switzerland. So I go and work with Marie-Thérèse Chappaz 6 months and at the end of my diploma, and I said to Hugo ok I loved my internship in Clos du Tart and in Burgundy, and I want to discover and to work there and to learn about the small plot, and the diversity of the terroir, and so yes, I began to work with Benjamin Leroux. At the end of 1 year and a half with him (which was amazing!) Hugo and I talked about do our own wine, but we thought that Burgundy would be impossible - we aren’t billionaires. It’s ok. 


Brenna (Narration): Talullah and Hugo searched all over for their own vines. From the Jura, to the Rhone where Talullah’s from, and even explored opportunities elsewhere in the Côte d’Or, but were outbid at the last minute on two separate occasions. 


Tallulah Dubourg: So then we were a bit sad and said ‘ok maybe in Burgundy it will be impossible. And one day I was searching on internet and I discover on website it was just talking about one house in Maranges and only 16 hectares of vineyard. So, this plot. We said ‘ok, maybe we can begin by that.’ So we don’t know really well Maranges, and so I called the guy and he said ‘but who are you? What is your past, etcetera?’ We said we are students in engineering and viticulture. We worked with this guy, this guy this, this winemaker, etcetera. And he said ‘ok, well maybe it will be a good thing to come because it  is - the project is 5 hectares, 1 house, 1 cellar…


[Brenna chuckles]


Tallulah Dubourg: We said ‘ok, are you kidding?’


[more chuckling from Brenna]

Tallulah Dubourg: He said ‘non, non, no - I don’t put that on the website because I will receive many many many… and the day after we were here. We visited the house and we completely fell in love with the house and with the place because the place is really nice for us. Because we have lots of trees and lots of different plots, and it’s so different than the rest of the Côte and so we made an offer maybe one week after. Before we see the bank! chuckles.. 


Brenna, adding: We’ll figure it out!

[Tallulah chuckles in agreement]

Tallulah Dubourg: Yes. It’s gonna work! [more laughter] It was like a bluff. And the bank said ‘ok.' Because in the Maranges, really, the plots are really, really, really, less expensive than in the rest of the Côte and so yes, But we feel now, really really really lucky to find this kind of project. We are very lucky and we know it. 


Brenna: And then what is the reception as far as selling Maranges?


Tallulah Dubourg: Historically, in the Maranges, lots of people sold the grapes to cooperatives and so nobody made bottles in the past. The goal was to make lots of, lots of yields, but the ripening wasn’t achieved every year. It was our challenge, really, to make Maranges with good yields but not so much, and with good ripening. But with this kind of vintage like ’20 and ’22 it’s easy here to have now, a good ripening. In the past I think it was really difficult. So lots of people at the beginning of our project said “ok, it will be impossible to sell 20,000 bottles of Maranges. It will be impossible!” But yes, it was possible! [giggles proudly to acknowledge her success] But with a very, very big work of the commission part. It was interesting for these people that we work in Maranges like we work in vosne-romanee. And so the beginning was extraordinary for us. But yes, we have to do better each year of course. This is our challenge and our goal.


Brenna: And then, the other thing I want to talk to you is the little bits of granite that you have…


Tallulah Dubourg interrupts: Yeah! 


Brenna, continues: …which is also another kind of huge challenge to be in the Côte d' Or and to be working with something that’s completely different.


Tallulah Dubourg: Yeah, of course. This plot is in the slope of Haute Côte. At the beginning it was maybe the plot where we had to do the biggest job. We were afraid in ’20 it’s only sand and granite. There is no limestone at all. No clay at all. It’s only sand. So a really dry vintage like ’20 and ’22 [makes heavy, airy *whhh* sound suggesting exhaustion or physical challenge] we said ok maybe the vineyard will die. We don’t know how to make it. But the result in the bottle is really interesting. Really really. This is the plot we harvest in the morning of the last day. It’s only about 12 or 12.5 degrees (implying degrees Brix). The grapes are big and the skin are very thin so we can’t feel tannins. [church bell begins to chime background overhead] We are not sure that it is because of the selection of the material vegetal or if it’s because granite. I think granite has a very big consequence fo the profile because when you taste the chardonnay, which is just next to the Pinot on this plot, you can feel exactly the same feeling for the pinot noir on granite. It’s like a really shy and fragile, and this is the only plot where we have this kind of evolution. 


Brenna: hmm


Tallulah Dubourg, warmly adding: We’re going to taste it in the cellar. If you have time.


Brenna, in a gracious tone: oh great! If you have time, we’d love to!


Tallulah Dubourg, graciously and welcomingly speaking: yes, yes.. we have time… 


[fade into transition, resume sound of walking steps]

[Interlude - ambient music]


1.3 Cassiopee Cellar transition to Natural Wine

[Musical transition with sounds of footsteps moving into the cellar. Light laughter and clinking glasses can be heard.]


Brenna (narration):  We head down into the cellar where Hugo is finishing up a tasting with a couple of lovely German sommeliers. We grab our glasses and take a look at the newly completed geologic maps by Françoise…


German sommelier: …dig holes, uh…




German sommelier: I wish you all the best with harvest. Crossing the fingers…


Tallulah Dubourg: Yeah.


German sommelier: Okay, guys–ciao, ciao, ciao.

Tallulah Dubourg: It was a pleasure. Bye bye.


**Musical transition**

Tallulah Dubourg: Ah yes, we have the card, yes, if you can look it, yes.


Brenna: Ah, great.


**Rustling around of paper and glasses clinking**


Brenna: And then…so when you think about working with this like tiny little bit of granite, do you think of it as just a different Côte d’Or or do you kind of start thinking about other regions that have granite?


Tallulah Dubourg: Mmm…


**Tallulah swallows audibly and music plays**

Tallulah Dubourg: Ah, lots of people said that for us the Pinot Noir on granite was like some red wine they drank in Auvergne. Natural Auvergne wine, I have to precise, because it was really the feeling of people.


Brenna: Uh huh.


Tallulah Dubourg: And I, I think I can say I have the same feeling.


**Music playing**


Tallulah Dubourg: Lots of people said, “But it’s not a Pinot Noir,” when they taste it.


Brenna: Ah, uh huh.


Tallulah Dubourg: It’s interesting because we will taste Hautes Côtes de Beaune Les Paizets and Hautes Côtes de Beaune Les Côtés. 


Brenna: Uh huh.


Tallulah Dubourg: And the feeling is really different, even if it’s only, yes, 50 meters far.


Brenna: Huh.


Tallulah Dubourg: It’s interesting, really interesting. We’re gonna compare it. Ah…ça se amo… 

**Sound of glasses clinking and music continues to play**


Brenna: And so this is the Pinot Noir Hautes Côtes on…


Tallulah Dubourg: On granite.


Brenna: On granite.


Tallulah Dubourg: Yes.


Brenna: And the vines are how old?

Tallulah Dubourg: Uh, 45, 


Brenna: Okay.


Tallulah Dubourg: 45 years old, yes.


**Music continues to play and sounds of aerating the wine in the mouth**


Tallulah Dubourg: Mmm, and concerning the winemaking, it, it, we do exactly the same thing on each wine but, especially on this one, we try not to extract too much because the tannins are not really interesting to extract.


Brenna: Uh, huh. I really see what you mean with kind of the fragility of it…


Tallulah Dubourg: Yeah.


Brenna: …and like, the very fine, but separate tannins, you know.


Tallulah Dubourg: Yeah.


Brenna: You know, kind of like granular but very small.


**Soft music plays**


Tallulah Dubourg: Yeah. We can feel that the wine is not really stable and we use the lesser for this year compared to the previous year so it’s another risk we take.


Brenna: Mmm.


Tallulah Dubourg: But for us it’s interesting


**Transitional music plays**


Brenna (narration): Tallulah and Hugo come from very technical backgrounds-–and hold precise engineering degrees…but the wines they’re making lean heavily towards the side of natural wine.


Tallulah Dubourg: But it’s important for us today to forget lots of thing.


Brenna: Mhmm.


Tallulah Dubourg: And not to put new oak and lots of sulfur and, and not indigenous yeast, etc. If our teachers saw how we make wine today…




Tallulah Dubourg: “Oh my god! You are crazy!” Ah, so yes, it’s really interesting.


Brenna: Was there any like, moment or decision or experience that you had that kind of shifted you in that direction?


Tallulah Dubourg: I think I decided to change my uh, way of thinking when I discovered the natural wine. It’s completely crazy and I think it was at that moment we decided to, to let the creative part go because this kind of vinification for us it was the best part to feel what we wanted to mean by the plot and what we wanted to find in the grapes on the plot but the goal is not to let the wine do what he want to do because naturally the wine become vinegar if you don’t know something and it’s not so good to drink.


**Tallulah and Brenna laughing and music starts up again**


Tallulah Dubourg: The thing that we want to explain to people who come is that we know something because we study it but it’s nothing compared to ah, to learn each vintage and to begin to manage (inaudible). And so yeah, we gonna try each vintage to do what we think it’s a good wine. We have lots of things to learn, especially about the terroir. Really, because it’s only about feeling for the moment.

Brenna: Mhmm. Well, you have lots of time. The geology doesn’t change which is the nice thing.


**Tallulah laughs**


Tallulah Dubourg: Yeah, I think we have time.


Brenna: Yeah.

1.4 Natural Wines in the Côte d'Or


**Musical transition and sounds of movement in the cellar**


Brenna (narration): It would be difficult to discuss the future of Burgundy without considering the rapidly growing movement towards natural wine that’s blossomed over just the past few years…


Rajat Parr: Natural wine in the Côte d’Or…oof.


**Raj pauses, exhales, and laughs**


Rajat Parr: You know there’s a voice inside me which is like, shrieks at natural wine in the Côte d’Or, like, “ahhh!” It’s not going to taste the same and that’s the honest truth. When you make wine from a great terroir in any great place, and specifically in Burgundy, and if you make it in a natural way, it has a different architecture. The aromatics are different, the texture is different, the energy is different.


**Upbeat drums playing**

Brenna (narration): The Côte d’Or is a region steeped in so much tradition, and such steep prices, that it seems like the very last place natural wines would take hold–there’s just too much at risk, too many forces working to keep things the same, and too much pressure to satisfy customers paying the highest dollar


But when we look a little closer at the characters who make up the Côte d’Or… maybe it isn’t so surprising…


Some of the greatest names in the Côte d’Or, and therefore in the winemaking world, were key pioneers in the movement away from conventional or industrialized farming, into an era of organics and biodynamics…


Jasper Morris: The fascinating thing for me, because you still hear people say, “Oh people are only using those labels for marketing purposes.”


Brenna (narration): Here’s Jasper Morris…


Jasper Morris: …but when you consider domaines like Romanée-Conti, Leroy, Lafarge, Lafon, Leflaive, Bonneau du Martray etc. etc. etc., all these people who only were going to lose ah taking on these wild ideas, and you know, they clearly weren’t doing it for marketing purposes.

Brenna (narration): And Aaron Ayscaugh…


Aaron Ayscough: Because of course if we talk about natural wine we have to talk about when wine became not natural, or less natural. And I think it’s more recent than people realize.

Jasper Morris: First of all, you have oidium, mildew, phylloxera, you have some really tricky vintages at the beginning of the 20th century. The vast majority of people were seduced and I, I don’t see how we can blame them. You were considered a fool if you didn’t use these things but it turns out that chemical fertilizers and chemical weed killers have been bad.


Aaron Ayscough: I think that’s why, I mean a lot of the natural winemakers, the young winemakers, in the social circle around the Côte d’Or, they still love drinking old Burgundy because it’s a little window into an era where the options for intervention were much fewer because you know, herbicides only came in in the 1970s roughly, you know. And the synthetic pesticides, you know a little later. And, but, for whatever reason, I think the cultural memory of excellent small-scale, hand-vinified, you know…


Brenna: Yeah, yeah


Aaron Ayscough: …traditional winemaking without too much chicanery ah, persisted in Burgundy better than a lot of places.


Brenna (narration): But, even the most ardent biodynamic farmers don’t necessarily align with the pillars of the natural wine movement.


Aaron Ayscough: In my experience nobody in LA was talking about the natural wine in 2006.


Brenna: Yeah.


Aaron Ayscough: And I think it was kind of the era where a lot of the high profile biodynamic winemakers, they were considered to be the most radical people working because biodynamics, when you describe it, it sounds so witchy and non-scientific and all these things and so, you know when I arrived in Paris I was like trying to find biodynamic wines…


Brenna: Mhmm.


Aaron Ayscough: …because that seemed like the most natural thing. And I think initially one confuses biodynamics for natural wine and things and it was in the first year or two that, after I got to Paris, where I started to realize that natural wine really was its own subculture as very distinct from the biodynamics movement. I mean, there’s overlap but it is very much a distinct subculture.


Brenna (narration): I ask Aaron to help define what exactly Natural Wine means.


Aaron Ayscough: Because of course the whole meaning is an ideological battleground because I think the key schism in the present day is between a very radical definition of natural winemaking with absolutely nothing added, nothing removed, and more than organic farming. And between a more pragmatic definition of natural winemaking that really comes out of a tradition of great winemaking. And so it’s important to keep the spirit a little bit. You know, like punk.


**Some drum beats pick up**


Aaron Ayscough: Which is basically, you know, historically, almost contemporaneous with natural winemaking but it required a big revision of what we considered beautiful in songwriting and production and then of course it became applied to every media. There’s punk films, there’s punk books, there’s punk sculptures, there’s dance punk. It was also extremely corporatized. There are pop punk skate fests sponsored by Sprite, you know…


**Brenna laughing and drum beats continue**


Aaron Ayscough: …and things like that. And these days if you want to determine whether something is punk you compare it to the spirit of Patti Smith and of Johnny Roth, and the Modern Lovers and ah, things like that. So, I think a similar approach works to natural wine in terms of kind of determining does it fall within the natural wine camp enough to refer to it generally as natural wine.


Brenna (narration): And to describe the history of Natural wine here in the Côte d’Or…


Aaron Ayscough: It comes from the Beaujolais.


**Brenna and Aaron laughing**


Aaron Ayscough: I mean within the Lapierre lore, there is a direct link to the kind of the first glimmers of this natural wine aesthetic in Burgundy. It’s via Philippe Pacalet, Lapierre’s nephew, who also interned for Jules Chauvet and then, depending on who you speak to you get different stories but, who put Henry-Frédéric Roch? He had just founded his Prieuré Roch estate and it was either Néauport or Piquet Boisson who put him in touch with Philippe Pacalet and it was Roch, who wanted to bring things into this natural direction, who hired Pacalet and kind of gave Pacalet free reign of vinifying these great terroirs in Vosne-Romanée and all these things. 


Brenna: Mmm, mhmmm.


**Music playing**

Aaron Ayscough: And so that was in the very early 90s. He’s generally credited with having really kind of pioneered the general kind of more, the aesthetics of natural winemaking within Burgundy. But then there’s other stories as well.


Brenna (narration): The timing of natural wine in the Côte d’Or really isn't all that far off from the more developed natural wine scene in Beaujolais just 100 km to the south…but the aesthetic didn’t take hold in the same way until much more recently…


Aaron Ayscough: It doesn’t have that same phenomenon where like you can’t talk about the Beaujolais without talking about its key natural winemakers whereas it’s still much more controversial within Burgundy…


**Aaron trails off and transitional music continues to play**


Brenna (narration): Today, depending on the circles you hang out around, the natural wine movement in the Côte d’Or can feel like it's determined to make up for that lost time…


Paul Wasserman: Natural wine in Burgundy, it’s really surprising how quickly it’s evolving. I didn’t think it would. And it’s not just natural wine. It’s classic domaines taking inspiration from the natural wine movement, mostly in extracting less and using much less sulfur. But there’s this whole other group that’s skirting the line between classic and natural and those are very exciting wines too. I think it’s not a fad and some parts of the natural wine movement are important and will change the game.


Rajat Parr: For many years we thought, oh, it’s not evolving enough and it’s stuck in time. And now some people say it’s moving too fast and it’s moving! It’s, the world is moving so fast but I think that it’s important, you know, everyone has their own viewpoints you know, so I think it’s moving at the right pace.


**transitional music**

Pt 2: The Hautes Côtes

2.1 Intro to the Hautes Côtes


**transitional music continues as Brenna narrates*


Brenna (narration): It seems like the hub for much of the natural wine movement today isn’t quite out in the open on the main slope, but tucked back into the hills of the Hautes Côtes, or the high slopes that sit nestled up and behind the main slope… Part of this is likely due to the natural wine darlings Christian and Morgane of Domaine Dandelion, based in the quaint little village of Mavilly-Mandelot.

Rajat Parr: The Dandelion wines are dear to my heart. I love the wines, you know. It really is the poster child of natural wine in Burgundy, especially in the Hautes Côtes.


Brenna (narration): Mavilly-Mandelot is located in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, just up and over or Northwest of Pommard. You might imagine that these vines are just right above the main slop, sitting atop the plateau just behind the trees that mark its crest. But, as always, it’s more complicated than that. Many of the Hautes Côtes vineyards are on their own slopes, often associated with their own fault systems that have molded the topography in totally different ways. Mavilly-Mandelot, for example, is about 6 km away from the village of Pommard. But there are also plenty of examples of Haute Côtes vineyards that are immediately adjacent to village vineyards as well.


Paul Wasserman: There’s no general setup. There’s pockets all over the Côtes. There’s, you know, a big pocket in the Côtes de Beaune that includes Meloisey, Mavilly-Mandelot, Nantoux. A little even higher after Saint-Romain towards Auxey, in places like that. There’s a big pocket above Vosne Romanee. There’s a pocket above Nuits-St-Georges in Chaux. And there’s no logic to it yet, and it’s getting the spotlight because the talent’s exceptional. But there’s not a sense of place, yet, that I can tell.


Brenna (narration): The Hautes Côtes is broken into two extremely broad categories: the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and the Hautes Côtes de Nuits. 


*transitional music starts*


Brenna (narration): Some of the Hautes Côtes de Beaune vineyards near Maranges actually extend South of Maranges. Some of these vineyards are on the granite and tertiary deposits we saw earlier, while other vineyards are on the exact same geology as the vines of the main Côtes. And yet still others, like those near Mavilly-Madelot, are on rocks that correlate more to the geology of the Jura than to the Côte-d'Or.


Rajat Parr: I think that the Haute Côtes is totally different than the Côte-d’Or. You can find similarities, but the structure of the wine is very different. Just how severe the acidity is is very different. I think in time we’ll see with biodiversity, with the high level of farming, with vine age, I think it’ll kind of create its own personality. But I think you really do need another 10, 15, 20 years to see as the vine age…


[Raj fades out as he continues talking and Brenna begins narrating]


Brenna (narration): In general, the Hautes Côtes is, in fact, higher than the main slope. And most of the vineyards were known to struggle to get ripe most years, a factor that looks awfully appealing in hot, recent vintages.


Paul Wasserman: Well traditionally, it was ignored. Let’s face it. And the vines are very often farmed differently. They’re wider spaced, and they’re higher. It was easier to farm, for sure, that way. And maybe they farmed other things as well. So they didn’t often have specialized tractors, <<enjambeur>>. So it was much easier for them to space the vines more so they could use a normal tractor to farm. I heard that the higher canopy, the higher vines, was related to frost issues. Less close to the ground, less risk of frost. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what I always heard. And, a fair amount of the vines were actually sold for the production of Cremant. How did that taste? I don’t know, we never drank it. We could afford all the rest, so…why bother?


Brenna (narration): Here the vines are spaced wide apart and they’re trained higher, meaning, among other things, that yields can be significantly higher than in the high density plots below us.


Paul Wasserman: Lower planting density opens the door to different farming. Specifically, maybe less tilling because there’s less competition. So, perhaps, this plantation density can offer some great opportunities for regenerative farming. So there’s something kind of hopeful about it, in the sense.


*transitional music starts*

2.2 Pho Lunch


Brenna (narration): Given the cost, quirks, and climate, it’s no wonder that the Hautes Côtes has become a sort of oasis for natural wine. But as Aaron previously described, natural wine isn’t a recipe or a strict set of guidelines. It’s an aesthetic, and something you can feel.


A group of people talking and laughing in the background fades in, a few words and phrases can be caught and the name “Andrew” comes through clearly above the laughter


Brenna (narration): Early on in our journey, we were lucky enough to be invited to a lunch hosted by Matt McClune of St Romain Coffee on a bright Sunday afternoon…


[Sound of a chime ringing over people chatting in the background, and the transition music fades in]


Brenna (narration): Matt is making an epic feast of Vietnamese Pho soup for some of his friends [background sounds during a pause], mostly characters within the local natural wine scene, some based in the Hautes Côtes. 


Background sounds intensify, as if the party’s conversations are growing, and the transition music continues.


Brenna (narration): He has been cooking the broth for over 24 hours. There’s a counter full of fresh greens, a wood burning oven crackles in the kitchen.


The party noises fade back in, and Matt asks someone “If you could get a small, round bowl from the shelf, that would be great”. There’s a baby half-crying for food in the background. Food is being chopped. “Thanks, that’s great, that’s great.” The party continues until Matt raises his voice again over the crowd: “Please, find a table. Find a seat. Take a seat please.” A female voice adds “Before it gets cold, everyone!”


Brenna (narration): Happy faces gather around a long wooden table, quickly filling up with bottles. Some are locals, some are expats, many of the couples a combination of both.


Matt (at the party): So, you guys, there’s lime, mint leaves, fish sauce. The fish sauce is super good, I recommend adding fish sauce. Fresh chiles or sriracha, if you want.


The party claps and cheers in appreciation for the spread laid out on the table.


Matt (at the party): Thank you for coming everyone, this is fun.


Voices from the party return their thanks. The party conversation turns into multiple overlapping conversations at the dinner table, scraps of which come into focus for a word or a short phrase before drifting away as another word or phrase takes its place. Someone starts playing Debussey’s Clair de Lune in the background.


Brenna (narration): Eventually, Matt’s son Jack begins to play the piano in the other room.


Background sounds fade back in, and slowly a languidly played version of Clair de Lune starts to assert itself above the general party conversation and noise.


Brenna (narration): We drink out of simple, mismatched glasses. And soon, the light conversation turns toward the seriousness of our climate, of how we treat our planet, of the desire for trees and crops and vines to remain together, of the essence and the meaning of making wine in the Hautes Côtes and in the Côte-d’Or. There’s a lot of love and feeling and intention here. Technically, we are in St Romain, which is not the Hautes Côtes. But, I think we’ve found the aesthetic.


Jonathan Purcell: When you’re here, there’s a cool place to be. And, uh, I spent a few months in [mumble] in France, to figure out where I might want to install myself and try to work and be an apprentice. And the most welcoming place was Beaune.


Female voice: Cause it was like, I’m not going to stay here. Like, I’m not in wine. Jon is making wine, I’m not making wine. But in the end, I like it a lot, because it’s people, food, and wine. It’s what makes life interesting. Burgundy has something really special in terms of bringing people together, I think.


Baby makes crying-cooing noise


Christian Knott: Yep, I mean Burgundy obviously is like a [mumbling] a lifestyle


Brenna (at party): You have the opportunity now to retain diversity as opposed to having to decide fifty years from now to do the painful thing of stepping backwards which is worth fighting for…


Female voice: The environmental problem of the world…


Brenna: Exactly


Female voice: Because nobody wants to take a step backwards of what we need to do in our environment to understand it and to make it better…


Party fades out as piano comes to foreground for the final bars of Clair de Lune. As the piece concludes, the party thanks Jack for playing and applauds him.

2.3 Tasting the Hautes Côtes with Petit Roi


Brenna (Narration): As much as this aesthetic helps to define the feeling of the Hautes Cotes, that doesn’t yet fully describe the terroirs or the wines… so to get a bit more detail we head down the slope to the village of Chorey-lès-Beaune to taste through some of the purest expressions of the Haute Cote with Seicii Saito of Domaine Petit Roi… 


Brenna (Narration): We visit with Seiichi on one of the final days of harvest 2022 – as some of the last grapes are being pressed off in the cellar.


Paul Wasserman: Seichii is quite an unusual character. First of all he’s Chinese and Japanese. He was born in China, but when he was 11, he evidently moved to Japan to be reunited with his grandmother. And he was studying environmental studies and followed his professor back to China, where they were studying desertification, and Seichii thought that one of the solutions for this would be to find a crop that needed very little water but had an economic return. And the lightbulb went off and he went - the vine. And he started tasting wine because of that and he completely got hooked, so when he returned to Japan he dropped his studies and basically visited every single Japanese winery you can think of. And eventually he stumbled upon someone who said, okay if you want to make wine move to Burgundy and call Chisa Bize. And he ended up in Burgundy, I believe in 2006, University of Dijon to study the language, and he became the Bize’s helper. Vineyards, cellar, babysitter, cook… and worked on and off for Bize for a very long time, but also Mugnier, Rousseau, he attended Leflavie’s biodynamic school…


[Sounds of laughter, arrival in cellar]


Paul Wasserman: …the goal was to go back to Bize and work for Patrick.


Brenna: So the goal wasn’t to start your own domaine? Originally? Or did you hope to make your own wine?


Seichii Saito: Uh, no… continues in French.

Paul Wasserman (translating): When you work for others, you don’t ever really fully understand what making wine is. There’s always somebody else making the decisions, taking the risks and so he understood that if he really wanted to understand making wine he’d have to make his own.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): So when he started in 2016 with some Côte de Nuits Village, by purchasing grapes, it was almost like writer’s block. He didn’t even know how he was going to do it, what he was doing… After 12 years in the field, he still didn’t have a vision of exactly what he wanted to do.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): He did what he learned. Period. That’s it. He tried to make wine basically. Now he knows. After 6 years, 2022 is his sixth vintage.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): In 2017 he found a few vineyards - Bourgogne Rouge in Pommard and Bourgogne Blanc and Aligoté in Savigny… and still continued to purchase grapes. But that’s really the foundation of the domaine, 2017, for him.


Brenna: When did you start working with vines in the Hautes Cotes?


Seiichi Saito: Responds in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): 2018. He found them in the Classifieds. It’s hilarious in a way because it just doesn’t happen. It was an abandoned vineyard and nobody wanted to work it.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): It was steep, it was on the hillside and it was a bit of jungle - it was uncared for. It took 3 years to rehabilitate the vineyard.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): With climate change, we’re harvesting earlier and earlier so he thinks one of the solutions is to find vineyards a little higher up. For freshness.


Brenna (Narration): Seiichi explains that he’s excited about the potential for the Hautes Cotes, particularly in warmer years, but points out that it comes with some of its own unique challenges…


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): A warm year like this is a really good vintage for Hautes Côtes, 2021 was difficult though. And so there was less sun and of course there was rain, things like that, so it doesn’t ripen, it rots before it does. A cold year is still hard for the Hautes Cotes - which is interesting. We have to deal with the cards that nature deals us. Or, more simply - we do with.

Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Brenna (Narration): He makes three very distinct bottlings of Pinot Noir from the Hautes Côtes– in the villages of Nantoux, Nolay, and Echevronne – each on different terroirs that make three very different wines.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman: So he has a lot of Hautes Côtes de Beaune. So in total how many hectares of Hautes Côtes? Three, four?


Seiichi Saito: Counting in Japanese.

Paul Wasserman: Four hectares in the Hautes Côtes.


Brenna: So how many hectares are you farming?


Paul Wasserman: About five and a half.


Brenna: And so do you think that Hautes Côtes is a solution for climate change?


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): He says, yes he thinks it’s a solution for the future, but now talking about Hautes Cotes de Beaune is too violent… he means too big of a block, now we have to start talking about Nantoux and Meloisey and Nolay and in his case, above Savigny.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…

Paul Wasserman (translating): Every vineyard has a lieux dit too, in Echevronne it’s Perrieres in Nantoux is (inaudible) and in Nolay it’s Vignes (inaudible). So they have lieux dits…


Paul Wasserman: Asks a question in French.


Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…

Paul Wasserman: Yes, he believes that Nolay is different from Nantoux. And he’s not going to blend them, they’re going to be single vineyard bottlings and he’s going to put the lieux dit up front.


Brenna: And they are individual vineyards, within each village as well.

Seiichi Saito: Continues in French…


Paul Wasserman: It’s much more interesting.


Seiichi Saito: Of course.

Rajat Parr: You know - they are all mavericks. It’s truly such a unique place, in all of France to make the kind of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligoté.

Part 3: Farming and the Future 

3.1 Nicolas Faure 


*transitional music starts*


Daniel Johnnes:  So I love to try Hautes Côtes, or Maranges, or Côtes de Beaune, or Côtes de Nuit Villages. These appellations are wines that I’ve considered over delivering and extraordinary value so I've always looked for those wines but I feel like they haven’t had their  place on the stage in such an important way as it is today. 


Brenna (Narration): It’s pretty incredible that some of the most exciting wines coming out of the Côte-d’Or today really do come from these lesser known appellations. In fact, it’s something we’ve mentioned in almost every episode of this season. Is it just the warming climate that’s made these areas suddenly so intriguing, or something else? Many experts believe it’s the vigneron’s care and dedication to farming in these places that sets them apart from the rest…


Paul Wasserman: I am amazed by the under 30 year olds. They are incredibly engaged in this direction and it makes me very hopeful. And it’s not going to be one recipe, it’s going to be a collection of little details that work for each domaine. And you have to leave room for everybody's opinion and differences in terroir honestly.


Brenna (Narration): To explore this idea, we’ve searched out one of the most detailed and thoughtful farmers in all of the Côte-d’Or …Nicolas Faure…


Paul Wasserman: Nicolas Faure comes from the enemy lines Bordeaux … which is only a joke and he ended up working for for Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Domaine Prieuré-Roch and for Jean-Louis Chave - so the resume is rather extraordinary. Mostly in the vineyards until he took the job as vineyard manager for his wife Amelie’s domaine. And wines that have captured everybody’s heart. It’s one of the most beautiful expressions of whole cluster in Burgundy right now. When there started to be speculation on his wines. I told Nico he can raise the prices a bit you should make some of that money. He said, “Absolutely not. I want my wines to remain drinkable and affordable.” And Nicolas is very opinionated and very clear about what he likes and dislikes. 

*music playing* 


Brenna: We find Nico where he prefers to be, within/amongst some of his favorite vines–though he‘s worked the most prestigious vineyards in all of the Côte-d’Or , his favorite spot is in Nuits-Saint-Georges, a flat, village vineyard just barely off the main road…


(SFX - the sound of footsteps in the vineyard) 


Paul Wasserman: So …The famous Cru of “Les Herbues” in Nuits-Saint-Georges


Nicolas Faure: Grand Cru 

(Laughter from Brenna, Paul and Nicolas) 


Nicolas Faure: So Are we trying….


Paul Wasserman: I’ll help you if you ..


Nicolas Faure: I’ll try English and after 10 minutes I’ll be speaking French! 


Paul Wasserman: Yes! 


(Laughter from Brenna, Paul and Nicolas) 


Nicolas Faure: Les Herbues in Nuits-Saint-Georges *Nicolas points* and Vosne Romanée starts just here. Like I say to Paul, when you see some stone, not the stone from the soil it comes off the……the….


Brenna: Off the Road…


(Nicolas laughs) 


Paul Wasserman: He said he wouldn’t need your help ( laughing) 


(Laughter from Brenna, Paul and Nicolas) 

Nicolas Faures continues in French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): He did a soil analysis 3 years ago, he says, he forgot to bring it but it’s clay and silt-y.


Brenna: Deep? 


Nicolas Faures: (laughs) Deep.


Nicolas Faures: To be honest, it’s not the best soil. It’s not easy to work but when you find a good balance with the vines I think you can do some good things. Good wine but it’s not uh… continues in French.


Paul Wasserman (transalting): It’s not by chance.


Nicolas Faures: 10 years ago you would never find Herbues in Nuits-Saint-Georges it was put in the blend. When you don’t manage correctly the vines they can do a big crop and when the vines too young, it’s too generous and with the bad balance in the wine. I love these vines but when they compare with Aloxe-Corton or other vines in the Côte - I don’t make wine. To be honest, when you look only the soil, it’s uh, its a less good terroir. I’m very happy to make my Herbues but each year it’s a challenge. Sometimes, maybe, I am too much honest. 


Paul Wasserman: It’s an honest thing to say but also your best wine systematically -  like you pop the bottle wine and..


Nicolas Faures: I’m very VERY happy with my Herbues, it’s uh harder work to do some very good wine. Im very happy I rent these vines, they are not mine but it’s impossible for me to take out these vines, for me. I start with this and I want finish with this. 


Paul Wasserman: But these are old vines right?

Nicolas Faures: Uh Yeah 1964 planted  


Brenna: So you say that it takes a lot more work but what does that mean? You know, what IS the work? 


Nicolas Faures: (sighs) For example, to plow the soil in some place like my Bourgogne I have 1 week or 2 weeks to go inside. Here, when you go too quickly, it’s too wet and 2 days after it’s too dry. 


[Nicolas laughs and Brenna and Paul laugh alongside him]

Nicolas Faures: and you don’t do a good job ugh it’s an example and with the vigor  it’s more sensitive because you have more deep soil and you should be careful with how you compost. If you add nothing, it’s like everywhere, the vines go down but if you put a little bit more ..too much it’s TOO much.


*transitional music starts*


Brenna (Narration): Not only is the vineyard particular, but Nico also knows each individual vine…


Nicolas Faure: I close my eyes, I know where I am in this place. Since 10 years.. 11 years - I am alone to prune never a person for me here.


Nicolas speaks French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): Almost every single vine you know 


Nicolas Faure: So I know, I know every vine


Brenna: How do you consider that as you are farming throughout the year?


Nicolas Faure: For example, I don’t do the same job between the first row because it’s very generous because when you know your vines you know where I will have too much crop if I don’t take out enough. And, um, in the opposite, for example like here.


*SFX the sound of vines rustling from being moved* 


Nicolas Faure: Here is no too much it’s minimal. I can do it but hard to teach when you have a team it’s not, it’s not possible.


Nicolas speaks French…


Paul Wasserman (translating): You can give like general directions but you can’t do it to that level, you can’t train people to that level in detail. That’s the reason you want to stay the size you are…


Nicolas Faure: Yes, Now definitely. Except if anybody call me “Hi! I have some Premier Cru!” 


Paul Wasserman: Or Grand Cru 


Nicolas Faure: Yeah


Paul Wasserman: Yes, of course you would 


[Laughter from Brenna, Paul and Nicolas]

Nicolas: Before I searched each week, I search some place to plant but now I don’t look anymore because I don’t have the time to look!


[Laughter from Brenna, Paul and Nicolas]


*light background music plays*


Nicolas Faure: And to be honest, I have 1.3 I am very happy. Not for me but for my children if they want to do it. And I prefer vines than winery and I’m very happy with Amelie in the cuverie and so if I dont want to lose this feeling, this passion for the vines I should stop and and I won’t take more and take more and if I take more vines I will be less happy for sure


Nicolas speaks in French…


Paul: Do you want to see a vine pruned?

Brenna: Yes.


[Brenna giggles]


Paul Wasserman: We’re ready, If he goes pruning he’s going to go in to the vine two times 


Nicolas speaks in French…

Paul Wasserman (translating): He will take away the cane from the previous year 


Nicolas: Voila!

Paul Wasserman (translating): Ok, what’s interesting if he prunes like this in two times the interesting thing is for him to keep the laterals because they will start growing first. When he finishes in March he is going to cut 2 with 2 buds on that side and 6 on the baguette. 


Brenna (narration): While we watch in awe, his wife, Amelie Berthaut and their son Leon appear in the vineyard to say hello…At this moment Amelie is pregnant with their second child, Adele, who, at the time of this recording, is already 4 months old…


Paul Wasserman: Hello Ami! Hi Leon!


Brenna: You look so pretty! 

Nicolas Faure: Ça va bebe!


Paul Wasserman: Comment ça va?

Amelie Berthaut: I was driving and Leon saw you and I had to stop because he wanted to see papa


[Amelie and Paul exchange pleasantries in French]


[Amelie and Leon leave Brenna, Nicolas and Paul in the vineyard]


Paul Wasserman: Do you have any more questions because he’s pruned, like…


Brenna: Like.. a lot of vines


Paul Wasserman: Vosne… with DRC and Prieure Roch, and of course now Fixin, Givry, Chambolle, and Clos Vougeot you know like the whole Côte.


Nicolas: Just a little bit 


[Brenna and Paul laugh]


Nicolas: I think somebody know more than me 


Paul Wasserman: Yeah..but…


Nicolas: Somebody less maybe. It’s easier to have a good viticulture now that’s not the same and we should respect it because it’s easy to say - oh in the past they do this - but the wine was not like this and they say <<les vignes sont pas pareille>> And we should respect it.

Paul: It’s easy to have an opinion but the context wasn’t the same so it needs to be respected for what it was then and  


 Nicolas: and in the opposite in 2022 it’s just a shame to see some désherbant in Burgundy, ESPECIALLY in the Grand Cru and Premier Cru - it’s a shame.


3.2 Farming Matters, Does Terroir Matter?


Brenna (Narration): This is a tricky place for me, someone so focused on geology and terroir, standing in a simple village vineyard on deep deep clay, yet knowing it produces one of my absolute favorite wines. Even Nico admits the terroir is not as wine lovers and professionals loyal to the philosophy of terroir…how do we rationalize this in our minds? And an even scarier question…In the hands of a great farmer, does the terroir even matter?


Nicolas Faure: Like I say at the beginning, you should have the big terroir


Paul Wasserman: The great terroir.

Nicolas Faure: The great terroir. You can make more mistakes to make a great wine. 


Brenna: You can make mistakes

Paul Wasserman: Yes. Because the terroir is so powerful that it lifts the wine up. If everybody was farming well, or great, terroir wouldn’t matter

Brenna (Narration): Here’s Helen Johannesson


Helen Johannesson: Well I mean, it’s think it’s pretty hand in hand for the most part. You’re sort of, like, a pharmacist, a doctor, and a buddha. If you’re a farmer, and that’s essentially what I think the best winemakers are, it’s like this deep connection with what is happening in and around their vineyards. And so now it’s a lot of what people talk about. And I think that my first trip there, a lot of what was discussed was geology. How important the geology is, and how special. And like, I agree 100%. Look at that combe, and all that shit. Which is like, so so so important. And then farming can just either enhance or detract from that baseline.


Rajat Parr: That question is very interesting, because anyone who grows grapes and makes wines has to believe that ‘cuz that’s why you make the wine from one piece of wine. And for me, the terroir is the relationship between the land and its microbiology - its bacteria, its fungal matter, and how alive the soil is. And in a grand terroir, some vineyards express more than others. And of course, if you have better farming, you’re going to make better wine because you already have a place that is so vocal. Now the same producers who have upped the game and are really farming at a high level, and they’re making better wine, and the voice of a vineyard is even more expressive.


Paul Wasserman: I think there’s cycles. I started my career at a time where people were just waking up to better farming and that meant working the soil again, rather than using weed killers, some of them going organic, some of them going biodynamic. And they did their revolution, and right now there’s a whole other generation that is doing something different and right now, that talent trumps terroir somewhat, maybe for a while. But people that are little in the past as far as winemaking and farming, will wake up, at least enough of them, where terroir will absolutely matter and continue to matter. 

Brenna (Narration): As always in Burgundy, the answer is the complex one. Of course terroir matters, that’s why we’re here. But to think it’s the only thing that matters would be foolish. Burgundy, after all, is a place of complexity, individuality, and contradictions. There is no one perfect terroir, and there is no one perfect way to farm it. There are limitless possibilities of how a truly great expression of Burgundy can be made, and how it can taste. The key seems to be in the intention, and the dedication to the work and to the place…

Part 4: Closing – Côted'Or Past and Future

 4.1 Challenges for the Future? 

Brenna (Narration): Better and better farming in up and coming appellations means there are more and more vineyards performing at exceptionally high levels…which can sometimes make it sound like climate change could actually be a good thing, and that everything looks rosy for the future of the Côte d'Or…but of course, the Côte d'Or is no exception to the challenges our planet faces today and in the very near future…

Paul Wasserman: Climate change…is not good. Whether it’s the lack of water, whether it’s getting a lot of sunnier vintages that are somewhat changing the style of the wines…but mostly the fact that everything is precarious with climate change, I mean, we could chase three horrible vintages in a row, four or five, we could get entire crops wiped out.


Brenna (Narration): Here, as in everywhere, climate change means a lot of different things. Of course it means hot vintages, such as 2003, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022. The risk in a hot vintage is that the wines may be overripe, high in alcohol, or unbalanced. But it also means warm springs followed by deadly frosts. Unpredictable extreme weather during the growing season, erosion of the topsoils, and hail storms that wipe out entire vintages in just a few minutes. It means increased disease pressure, new pests, and other challenges that former generations have never seen. 


All of this is terrifying as a farmer, and it also means many miniscule vintages that drive the prices of Burgundy higher and higher – so it’s pretty scary as a consumer too…

Rajat Parr: It’s just the accessibility of some of the wines, it becomes only a wealthy person’s wine. And, which is fine, that’s just cycle of life, you know. But, I would hate for it to be forgotten by wine lovers, as the place that defines pinot noir and chardonnay. But it’s scarce, and it’s expensive, and I always worry that the young people should never forget the place that defines it all. 


Paul Wasserman: My wine career started at a time when you could taste basically everything with a group of five or six people, very very very few wines were out of reach, and I’m not sure I can imagine what life is like for young people in the wine trades.


Helen Johannesson: I only see it getting more expensive, so unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be an easier game to get into, it will only be harder. But, maybe that’s like great art, you know, like that is what it is.


Daniel Johnnes: I think the challenge is, for the historic domaines, who produce wine from the great, legendary appellations, because of the worldwide demand for them, it’s this really difficult tightrope, because they have to charge a lot for their wine, but I don’t think they’re all really comfortable with it either. So I think that it’s an interesting time, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know where it’s going. I think there will always be demand for it, the wines are just too good to lose the market, it’s just the circumstances in which they’re drunk will change from what those circumstances were 20 or 30 years ago. 

4.2 Ventes des Vins and La Paulée, Closing– bright points for the future


Brenna (Narration): But Burgundy has faced hard times before, and from these hard times have come great things…


The biggest celebration in Burgundy today occurs every year in November, and it was born out of a time of difficulty…


Daniel Johnnes: The Les Trois Glorieuses, you know the three glorious days of Burgundy, has roots in history at a time when Burgundy wasn’t very successful. The early part of the 20th century was very difficult for Burgundy. Les Trois Glorieuses became kind of a commercial, promotional weekend. The first one is the celebration at the Clos Vougeot, hosted by the Chevaliers du Tastevins, it’s a black tie affair. The second day is the Vents des Vins, which is a charitable auction to raise money for the Hospices de Beaune, which as you know, the Hospices was a hospital, it’s a former hospital in the center of Beaune. They always raise a lot of money, and it’s generally for a very good cause. So that’s really a colorful and, you know, really important part of the weekend…the festivities around it and the excitement of the sale and the number of people that come into town for it, so that’s really important. And then the third day, which made it the  Trois Glorieuses, is the Paulée of Meursault, which was launched in 1923, so this year we’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary. It’s not really an original concept, I mean the Paulée is something that takes place at every domain at the end of harvest where they celebrate with the grape pickers, and the family, and the owners and every domain has their own Paulee celebrating the end of harvest. But again, at the time in the ‘20s, it wasn’t such a profitable time for Burgundy. Dominique Lafon’s great grandfather, Jules Lafon, had the brillaint idea of inviting all the winemakers of the village of Meursault together to celebrate as a village. And that was the beginning of the Paulée de Meursault. So, it’s really become a huge festival of course, six or seven hundred people. When I went there, Dominique brought me to the Paulée de Meursault, and it had such a profound impact on me emotionally, and just reinforced the notion in me that wine brings people together and it enables them to share really special moments together, and creative moments also.

Brenna (Narration): The auction is an impressive site – a giant screen is placed in front of the magnificent Hospice du Beaune, so hundreds of onlookers can follow the action happening inside the Market Hall. People stand and watch the bids climb higher and higher, a first glimpse at the potential and the value of the most recent vintage. Locals will tell you that the Vents des Vins always seems to happen on the first truly cold day of the year…so the revelers are bundled up, often in the freezing rain, completely undeterred.


Brenna (Narration): The streets are shut down and covered in booths selling everything you can imagine, including classic burgundian foods, especially the warm cozy ones – boeuf bourguignon, oeuf en meurette, wine, beer, spiked ciders. Marching bands circle the cobblestone streets…and the day melts into a night filled with raucous after parties. The following morning the recycling bins on the streets become surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of empty bottles of incredible and rare wines…and you prepare for lunch…


Daniel Johnnes: And so I asked Dominique if I could meet the mayor of Meursault and the president of the Paulée de Meursault and the committee of the Paulée de Meursault, and we had lunch, and I kind of expressed my idea…and that it was purely a way of transmitting this culture of what they created, and introduce Americans to this concept of bringing a bottle, or several, and sharing it and a bit of Burgundian culture at the same time. So they blessed that, and that’s when we did, really it was the late ‘90s, but really the first Paulee in New York was in 2000.


[Sounds from La Paulée]

4.3 Closing – (Bright) Future of Burgundy 


Brenna (Narration): These celebrations serve as a reminder of the hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history and tradition that have contributed to this incredible place, as well as a reminder of the hard work and innovation it has taken to get here, and will continue to be required in order to remain at this height of greatness…

Paul Wasserman: Praise goes to the community we have in the Côte d’Or. Great community that has both historical domaines and a lot of outsiders, a lot of youth, and it’s because Burgundy fascinates people.


Brenna (Narration): The world is changing right below our feet, and the CdO is no exception…At this very moment, tectonic plates shift beneath us. The climate presents us all with new and unprecedented challenges. storms wash down a little bit more clay (and limestone) from the top of the slope into the center of the grand crus…new trends emerge, and new characters challenge centuries old traditions…

Daniel Johnnes: I think that Burgundy now is a place where previously wasn’t considered a young persons domaine. I think it is today, and that you have a lot of young producers doing creative things and just making really good wine. It think it’s an incredibly exciting time in Burgundy.


Brenna (Narration): The Côted'Or has changed steadily since we began our work on this season over 2 years ago…in fact some pieces of the story we have told are already out-of-date…and it will continue to change from from now until this recording reaches your ears and beyond…


Paul Wassman: It remains an extraordinary region, as far as terroir is concerned and even though one could think it was going to stay frozen in a sort of luxury world, there’s enough going on to have a lot of hope about it evolving to the next cycle. These are only cycles, there’s not a right or wrong, there’s a new cycle and the new cycle is really exciting. 


Brenna (Narration): And that is the beauty of our planet, and of this piece of it in particular. The CdO will continue to change in the face of challenges. It will embrace the future while respecting thousands of years of tradition…and we will all be here to watch, enjoy, and appreciate…and long after we’re all gone, there will be bottles tucked away in cellars that document this moment, and so many others yet to come…


Rajat Parr: I think the Côte d’Or is a great place because you see the perfect marriage of the classics, what's new and exciting and I think everyone is welcome at the table. I think having a great bottle of Premier Cru or Grand Cru from a classic producer, next to a great bottle of a natural producer making Aligoté or simple Bourgogne… They share a space and I think that’s exciting.

Brenna (Narration): I encourage you to celebrate this place in the most Burgundian way possible–By opening a bottle of something special with people you love. Preferably over the course of a long meal that bleeds into the next meal. I hope one bottle becomes two, becomes three, becomes more… I hope you listen to the wines and savor each sip, while savoring the company of the people you’re with. and I hope you take just a moment to feel, deep within you, the terroir of the Côte d’Or…


[Singing of the Ban Bourguignon]



Brenna (Narration): Thank YOU for joining us on the incredible journey that has been Season 2 of Roadside Terroir. We are so proud to share this story with you, and humbled that you have given the gift of your time and attention over the past 10 episodes. 




Thank you to our guests: Tallulah Dubourg?, Seiichi Saito, and Nicolas Faure. With special appearances by Matt, Megan, and Jack McClune, Jon and Julie Purcell, Joe Hirsch, and many other party-goers.


Thank you to the experts featured in this episode and throughout the season for their commentary, guidance, and expertise.


To Paul Wasserman – for being our our guide from day 1– and for giving us the courage and support to begin this season


To Daniel Johnnes for making time for our discussions nearly every month for over a year


To our local geologic expert Francoise Vannier, who has changed the way the world sees the terroir of Burgundy


To Jasper Morris for his commentary and for the incredible detail included in his book, Inside Burgundy, our go-to reference throughout the season


Thank you to the ultimate expert and ambassador of Burgundy wines, and the greatest palette in the business, Raj Parr


To Helen Johannesson for her ever-fresh perspective, which you can hear much more of in her podcast WineFace, and to Aaron Ayscough for his thoughtful account on Natural wines, which you can dig into in his book The World of Natural Wine. 


Season 2 of Roadside Terroir is made possible by our incredible Season 2 partners: Becky Wasserman & Co, La Paulee, and Acker Wines…we can’t thank you enough.


Thank you to the Hitching POST for sponsoring this episode and for championing innovation and the love of wine in Santa Barbara County, Burgundy, and beyond…


Thank you to all of our sponsors throughout the season: The Wine Education Council, Hautes Cotes, Lone Wolf Imports missing plus our Grand Cru Patrons Steve and Amy Lipin.


Roadside Terroir is hosted and produced by me, Brenna Quigley

Recording and sound engineering by Nick Canepa

Additional sound engineering, original music and sound design by Jeff Alvarez


Thank you to:

Esa Eslami, Jerusha Frost, Ali Massie, Julia Wiggin, Michael Sager, Summer Staeb, Michel Joly, Icy Liu, Cara Humphries, Etienne Bornert, Robin Quigley, and everyone else who helped make this season a reality.


Thank you to our extensive team of volunteers who help to personally transcribe each episode in order to make this content accessible for everyone. 


And finally–thank YOU, again, for listening and being a part of our journey. –Check out our website to learn how you can stay in touch and how to support this season and future seasons of Roadside Terroir…




Brenna: We’re here. It’s our first day one. Let’s cover some of the big themes that we want to cover in terms of Burgundy.


Paul Wasserman: Can I make a comment?


Brenna: Yeah.


Paul Wasserman: If I let go, I’m probably going to be talking much louder than you are, cause you’re being so quiet and soft right now. And that’s not my style.


Brenna: That’s okay.


Paul Wasserman: Do you want these are different volumes?


Brenna: No, I think I’ll ask… but they’re recording.


Paul Wasserman: Whose “they” by the way?


Brenna: Nick and Jeff, they’re the sound engineers… As long as you’re not ever TOO loud. So if you plan to yell, we would want to adjust the things a little. But like really yell.


Paul Wasserman: I plan to behave.


Brenna: Okay, we’ll see how it goes

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