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Meet the winemaker: the life and love of Charly Nicolle

Charly Nicolle’s vineyards in Burgundy include the Premier Cru site Mont de Milieu. His wines respect tradition, benefited by seven generations of wine-making. Charly farms according to organic and biodynamic principles, and is heavily involved in all aspects of grape growing and winemaking. We spent a day with this passionate producer who shared his story with us.

I’m a winemaker.
That’s what I chose to be. I first worked with my father; I learned the ropes, I soaked up the knowledge. I make and sign my own wine now. I’m content in my vineyard. I take care of my vines with both deep-rooted and intimate happiness. It’s like an infant I care for every day, bringing the fruit that make my Chablis to maturity. All year round, I work the land: ploughing, tilling and hoeing. Pruning with care. The vines bud and in June the hills fill with their scent and I count the 100 days remaining until harvest. Summer goes by, the last Swallows take flight and I harvest the golden seeds.

It’s my country, I was born here, I grew up surrounded by family.
Its here, in Fleys (pronounced Flay-ee), where I live. I live in my great-grandfather’s house. Every morning, to go to my vines on the hillside, I walk through the tiny streets, I pass by women and men who have watched me grow up. Hello Charly, hello Robert, good day Marguerite, hello Madeleine! I love this life: farmer, winemaker, villager, and familiar. 180 of us live tightly knit around our church steeple. It’s a lively place, youthful and friendly. I am a part of this age-old Chablis countryside-risen from the ancient earth folds where the ocean hid shell and fossil treasures for me to find under my plough when labouring in spring. It’s my countryside, a land of peaceful days that give me faith in the future.

The wine vats have waited out the long months and ring empty,
and then at the end of September they are filled, they welcome a blond and bountiful juice. In a long string of bubbles, sugar makes rooms for alcohol in the dimly lit tranquility of my chai. I tasted them patiently, watching their transparency form, bright and clear. Gold borne by the soil, these pure flavours, one by one, are set free, filling the mouth with acacia flowers, fresh citrus and that straightforwardness, that tight-rope balance I had hoped for, desired. Now comes sharing, thoughtful and joyous. Glasses meet, glances are exchanged and the lively sound of conversations fill the room.

 

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