Nicolas Joly, biodynamics at its best

Château de la Roche Aux Moines

After two hours of deep and interesting conversation, he asked me: ‘Do you have any other question?’ The only one coming to my mind was: ‘yes, may you continue talking for the remains of the day?’ It was only 13:00 but two hours had gone by in the blink of an eye and the day was still young. I knew in advance he was going away for the weekend, so the chances of listening to him longer were just slim, but, hey, I had to take my chances.

He had that effect on me and my brother. Sometimes he looked as a preacher, in the good sense of the word, as I was already part of his choir. I love organic viticulture and I love biodynamic viticulture so everything he was explaining to me was like, well, Gospel. At times I was deciding between taking notes and just trying to inhale as much knowledge as possible coming from him. He was talking and sharing his beliefs, his opinions, his path through life… So many things and thoughts that was more than the typical wine conversation. He was jumping from one topic to the next but not the way a lecturer does, but rather as someone who is explaining his passion for his work and his love for the way he works. He adopted biodynamic many years ago and he was talking about why this is important for him, and why it should be important for everyone involved in wine.

Nicolas Joly is considered, or at least for me, the father of Biodynamic viticulture in Europe. In his previous life he worked in the finance world. One day, a senior member of his company called him to tell him he was to be promoted. Nicolas answered: ‘thank you very much. I’m leaving the company’. His interlocutor said: ‘maybe you didn’t hear me. I said you are to be promoted’. Joly said: ‘yes I heard you. And I’m leaving the company’. That was a few calendar pages before the 1980s. That’s when he moved from that life in the corporate world to one in which he would start taking care of the family vineyards and making wine.

Nicolas’ empire is not far from Angers sitting by the banks of the Loire River in France. A wonderful place if you like to travel and visit ancient castles, and a pilgrimage area if you like white wines produced with Chenin Blanc. He has a huge maison, the typical French château surrounded by vineyards. Here, he produces only three wines: Les Vieux Clos, his entry level wine, appellation Savennières; Le Clos de la Bergerie, appellation Savennières-Roche aux Moines; and finally his flagship wine: Clos de La Coulee de Serrant, appellation La Coulee de Serrant. By the way, the name of his home is Château de la Roche aux Moines.

Nicolas is also the leader of a biodynamic producers association called Le Renaissance des Apellations. It started in 2011 with only French producers but the number has grown to over 230 winemakers from 13 different countries, including nine from Spain.

Soon we will talk to Nicolas Joly about his passion in life.