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Laurent Ponsot: The Future of Burgundy

For personal reasons, after 36 years at Domaine Ponsot, I left it in February 2017.

If I remained hidden and silent, during quite some time, I did not remain inactive in the shadow of my restructuring.
On the contrary, I have been working since then on this renaissance, the content of which I will now describe.

First of all, the passion that animates me about vines and wine is intact and these years of experiences taught me that one learns every day.

On this basis, I decided to start a new wine adventure with my son Clément (40), whose attachment to this profession is as ingrained as mine.

My two other children, Claire and Nicolas will also be shareholders of the new company

To help me to launch this new vessel, I count on my team, with me for 15 years: my dear PA Anne-Sophie, my precious cellar master Arnaud and Elisabeth efficient accounts lady, the same family working for 20 years in my own vineyards, and overall my beloved wife Claude, indefectibly supporting me.

At first, I keep farming a nice panel of appellations, either in ownership or in sharecropping, and these are:

Bourgogne rouge


Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes


Griotte Chambertin

Clos Saint Denis

On top of it, we have just acquired vines from which we will produce wines in 2019 :

Bourgogne rouge


Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru En Ergot


Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Les Sentiers

Bonnes Mares


Our estate is now about 7 hectares and we are ready to add vineyards to farm, studying any serious opportunity.

Without willing to follow a restrictive way of thinking as may be the organic farming or the biodynamic, I continue to be faithful to Nature by cultivating without chemistry, but reserving the possibility, in case of a serious pandemic problem to cure our vines with the means of today.

In addition, I became a Négociant, and this in an intelligent way, in line with the Great Burgundy Wine Trade which is at the origin of the long-term reputation of the wines of our region.

Indeed, for centuries, the system of wine marketing has been the responsibility of négociants.
The vine-growers used to cultivate the vines, make the wine and sell it in barrels to the négociants within three to six months after the harvest.

Négociants were then in charge of the élevage, bottling and marketing.

Before 1950, only ten wineries, and before 1900 only one still existing today, did their own élevage and bottling.
The boom in estate bottling began in early 1970 in Burgundy.
And it is also when the négociants have lost a little of their nobility.
Some vine-growers, eager to keep the best for themselves, but in need of fresh money, have continued to sell part of their crops to the négociants, but their less good wines or grapes.

And without the right raw material, no one can work miracles.

For their part, négociants who also needed to survive, had no alternative but to buy a little everything and anything, hence their notoriety down.
But we are seeing more and more in Burgundy a revival of the “Grand Négoce”.

So, for me, "négociant" is not a bad word and I wish, thanks to a careful and appropriate supply, to produce "haute couture" wines.

If I consider pretentiously that we produce beautiful and good grapes, I think that many winemakers in Burgundy are able to do the same, or even better!

And it is these producers who now become my source of supply. From them, I buy grapes, must or barrels in order to the appellations listed below, and surely more in the future.

And when I buy in barrels, I want these barrels to get in the cellar as soon as possible after the harvest, assuming that our élevage is at least as important as the production itself.
If I had to adopt a child and if it is a baby, he would become my own child at once, but if I adopt him as a teenager, he would remain marked by his experience and it would be more difficult to change his character ...

Restarting an activity from zero is a challenge and I am confronted with a lack of space and my means are still limited until I have sold my first bottle ...
This is to say that I have limited myself in our supplies while waiting for the construction of a new building, which I will describe later in this text.

Of course, our quest for an alliance between history and high technology continues and I keep all the fruits of my past research, such as, among others, the technological closure, élevage without sulfur but under neutral gas, the controlled temperature of "intelligent cases", the protection of authenticity, etc.

Moreover, with the first shipments started in the late fall of 2018, our bottles of Grands Crus appellations will become "connected".

Indeed, thanks to the use of new NFC chips, called NFC banking, we will be able to give to the final consumer the opportunity to check if the bottle he holds in his hands is the one that comes from our house. These chips have the distinction of being tamper-proof because they change their IP address in a chaotic way every time someone reads them.

In addition, related to the temperature sensor that equips each box, they can return the history of the temperature between the departure from our company and the exit of the box.
An on top of it, we can establish a connection between customers and the winery.

As you know, I am resistant to the use of new oak barrels whose addition of an "oak" taste is for me like the addition of natural extracts of fruits or flowers in the wines: it comes neither from the terroir or from original grapes.
I consider that the barrel is only a way to oxygenate the wine by respecting its ageing cycle.

While waiting to be sufficiently comfortable in future buildings to increase my researches, I am already starting an experiment on the alternative to barrel ageing by ultra-nano-oxygenation.

It took me 20 years to get to the perfect cork, but I hope it will take less in this new study ...

Many other ideas have sprouted that I will achieve little by little as among others:

  • Wine making vats specifically designed for red wine and other for white wine of which I already have prototypes ...
  • Futuristic labels ...
  • Packaging never seen in Burgundy
  • Etc..

Our new company will not be a "Domaine" or a "Maison", but just an entity.

And its name will be mine, not out of vanity or to feed an oversized ego, but on the contrary to remain humble in relation to Nature and to be able to assume at the same time the pleasure that we will be able to give through our wines, but also clumsiness possibly induced by a work "without safety net".

We have chosen a logo representative of this state of mind: Vintners & Negociants: the logo is inspired by this double belonging to the world of the vine and the one of the wine. The green of the L is inspired by the colour of the small vine leaves that come out of the buds while the dark grey of the P evokes the half-light of the cellars. The L descends from the sky and the P plugs its roots in the terroir. The horizontal bars of the two letters are open to the world ...

On the next page is the list of the appellations we already produce, in waiting for some others in the future with our new winery built …

In 2015, I kept only one barrel of each of my wines, except 3 of Corton Charlemagne.

All the labels of this vintage will be marked "An zero" meaning year zero, considering that the vintage 1 will be 2016. They already became collector bottles!

In 2016, the frost killed about 2 berries on three at the end of April, giving a quite low yield.

The production was 47 000 bottles in total.

In 2017, Nature was generous and the normal yield came back, especially in the whites.

That allows us to produce, including some new appellations, 80 000 bottles.

In 2018, also a vintage with good quantities, we will produce around the same number of bottles as in 2017, including new appellations.

Always inspired by nature, and to pay her credit for her generosity, I have decked all our wines with a nickname you can read in the following list.

Earlier, I mentioned a future building ...  It is actually a "building of the future"!

The new winery will be built under the rules and with the tools of the 21st century, on the foundations of 2000 years of winemaking history in Burgundy. Works started in January 2020. Grand opening expected in the fall of 2021.

"FUTURE" is the keyword of our new adventure.