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A visit with brilliant, biodynamic winemaker Nicolas Joly

To truly appreciate today’s Lot18 offer, you need some insight into the man that created this intriguing Loire Valley Chenin Blanc.

Of the two weeks that Wine Curator Janine and I spent canvassing our favorite wineries in France, we knew there was one stop that we couldn’t miss. After the caves of Champagne and the small vineyard of Burgundy’s Romanée-Conti, we arrived in the Loire Valley at the library of Nicolas Joly with much anticipation.

The breathtaking vistas from his hilltop home amidst the vineyards weren’t the only attractions for us.   We were excited to hear about the principles of biodynamic winemaking from the godfather and most vocal proponent of the practices.

We badgered him with questions in the beginning, but soon grew quiet under his spell of impassioned speech.  Joly sprays his vines with a nettle tea instead of pesticides, he only harvests on days designated as “fruit days” and tries to achieve biodiversity in his vineyards with many different plant and animal materials.

It is easy to think that all this is hocus-pocus or some say the extra attention increases the quality.  Maybe it does, but for me the proof is in his incredibly distinct wines.  Joly’s wines are some of my favorite wines on earth, period.

I often smell signs of ageing when I first open a bottle and that makes me nervous to decant or keep it open since that would accelerate the oxidation.  However, every time I am wrong.  In a few hours, the wines gain freshness and vigor in their concentration.  Try them after letting them aerate and with just a slight chill.

His style isn’t for everyone, but for me, it is exactly what makes me fall in love with wine: the sense of place, the complexity of flavors and an ability to evolve over time.