Just a few kilometres from Nuits-Saint-Georges, family domain Naudin-Ferrand crafts red and white wines with marked personality, reflecting the character of the estate’s owner, Claire Naudin.
A family domain
We find Domaine Naudin-Ferrand at the border between the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits. This is a viticultural site with a history dating back to the end of the 19th century, and it continues today under the impetus of Claire Naudin.
This producer took up the domain after her father, Henri Naudin, in 1994. After her first vinification in 1991, she travelled to Australia for several months, and this was a trip that saw a turning point in the development of her style and vision in terms of vinification. Once returned to her French homeland, Claire impressed her father with a degree in oenology, a step which led him to give her carte blanche over the winery. In 1993, she took over the management of the domain, bringing in many changes to how the teams were organised.
This domain mainly has land in the Hautes Côtes of Burgundy, in the regional appellations of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune and Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. Located in Magny-les-Villiers, a few kilometres from Nuits-Saint-Georges, the vines span across almost 22 hectares. The main varietals cultivated are Chardonnay for the white cuvées and Pinot Noir for the reds. Gamay and Aligoté are also grown in smaller quantities. Most of the wines (80%) are classed in regional appellations.
Claire Naudin: a producer on a mission
As the years have gone on, Claire Naudin has succeeded in forging her own stylistic path: she puts sustainable agriculture and minimal intervention at the heart of her work. After some time spent experimenting, Claire renounced systematic treatments in the vineyard and technology in the winery. She wishes to get the best of the inimitable richness of the land, with all its history, old vines, and a terroir with fabulous potential. “I don’t mean to demonise technology, but ideally I like to use it as little as possible. In the same vein as the finest chefs, my aim is to emphasise the quality of the raw material, letting our precious terroir speak for itself. The less the wine is altered, the more unique it is.”
In 1999, she tried her first sulphur-free vinifications. Today she runs her vineyard following responsible agricultural methods, and this has been the case for over 15 years. The grass is no longer systematically mown, and interventions against plant diseases are carried out on a case by case basis. One of her main ambitions is to totally remove all use of sulphur and copper in the vineyard, since any polluting products will accumulate in the soil and present potential health risks to the team on the ground. For Claire, the search for alternatives is urgent. She is currently testing the use of algae on certain parcels, as this is a new kind of natural pesticide that allows the domain to consider a product that is effective, natural and not harmful for plants or consumers.
Powerful and aromatic wine
This is a property with a specific philosophy in mind when it comes to managing yields. “We can reach our objectives every year without compromising on the quality of the wine. The 2013 harvest was saved by our small yields, allowing us to produce high-quality cuvées despite a very difficult year.”
In the winery, Claire’s approach is one of low intervention. As the grapes are vinified, they are handled as little as possible (eg, there is no pumping), there is a measured addition of sulphur dioxide, and no artificial techniques are used.
The result of this style is the creation of cuvées that are elegant and pure, with plenty of freshness and depth, offering a lovely illustration of Burgundy’s terroirs.
“The signature of our wine can be summed up in two words: aromatic power,” explains Claire, telling us that she isn’t into wines that are taut in the extreme. “The unique features of the Pinot varietal and its rich aromatic potential allow us to obtain wines that reflect the terroir, powerful and harmonious. For the whites, I strive for excellent maturity and aromatic complexity, without fear of the sugar levels. Our Chardonnays are rich and sweet.”
With an approach that involves little intervention, in the vineyard and the winery alike, Claire admits that she has had to feel her way somewhat. But it is clear that she has progressed from year to year to now craft wines that are precise, balanced, fine, and an authentic expression of their terroir.
What’s next? Well, Claire tells us that she doesn’t have a precise plan. Ambitious, however, she is sure of her general direction, and will be moving her domain yet further in line with her environmental convictions.