MAISON VALETTE

Philippe & Cécile Valette

Burgundy, France

Maison Valette is a touchstone for natural white winemaking, renowned for its regal, long-aged Chardonnays. A second-generation sharecropper, Gerard Valette converted to organic agriculture with the aid of his son Baptiste and Philippe in the early 90s. Philippe Valette, who took over part of the estate in 1992, would prove a visionary vigneron in his own right, installing a regime of biodynamic treatments, gradually eliminating sulfite addition during elevage, and forswearing filtration starting in 2006.

As of 2016, the wines vinified by Philippe, Gerard and Baptiste unified under the name Maison Valette. The wines are produced  and aged throughout three cellar sites in Chaintré, on the border between Mâconnais and Beaujolais. Neutral oak barrels are used to ferment and age all wines save the Macon-Villages, which ferments and ages in glass-lined cement tanks. Ageing periods range from two years (for the Macon-VIllages) to up to twelves years for the oxidative Clos du Monsieur Noly with meticulous contact with the lees and without racking.

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BACKGROUND OF NATURAL WINE IN BURGUNDY

Revered for its exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Burgundy stretches from Chablis in the north, to the Beaujolais region in the south. Its wines are terroir-driven that reflect the diverse soils and microclimates. The Côte d'Or, home to famous appellations such as Gevrey-Chambertin and Meursault, is particularly esteemed for producing some of Burgundy's most sought-after wines. With a history dating back centuries, Burgundy's winemaking tradition, meticulous vineyard management, and strict quality standards have cemented its reputation as a benchmark for excellence in the world of wine.

Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wine. What’s the difference?

To understand this concept and its various ramifications, it is necessary to keep something clear in mind: before the 20th century and the spreading of affordable synthetic fertilisers, all farming was organic. When the shift to the use of synthetics and pesticides happened, it became necessary to diversify traditional organic farming from the new modern farming. 


ORGANIC WINE

Simply put, organic farming forbids the use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms. The basic requirements are generally specific and engage the farmers not to use any chemical fertilisers and other synthetic products in the vineyard. It does not prevent the vintner from using the conventional winemaking process after harvesting. 


BIODYNAMIC WINE

Let’s take organic farming one step further: Biodynamic. The creator of this agricultural system is the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who developed the principles of biodynamics in a series of lectures given in 1924 in Germany. Here lies the foundation of true organic wines, with a strict limit in the use of additives, stringent requirements and at the end obtaining a biodynamic certification.


NATURAL WINE

The previous definitions are usually, and rightfully, associated with it, because most natural wine is also organic and/or biodynamic. But not vice versa!

Natural wine is wine in its purest form, simply described as nothing added, nothing taken away, just grapes fermented. No manipulation whatsoever, minimal intervention both in the vineyards and in the winery. Healthy grapes, natural yeast and natural fermentation, with no filtration nor fining. Sounds easy, right? However, making natural wine is unforgiving and it requires a bigger amount of work than conventional wine. To this day, natural wine has no certification yet.