Discussion with Mathilde Grivot of Domaine Grivot and GRW Wine Collection
We were so pleased when Mathilde Grivot agreed to a meeting with us to discuss winemaking philosophies at the Domaine. GRW Wine Collection is one of the biggest supporters of her family’s wines in the US and we want to provide our clients with the most up to date information concerning their wines.
What is the vision for winemaking at Domaine Grivot?
With my father, Etienne, and my brother, Hubert, we love the Pinot Noir Grape’s variety. We see ourselves, first and foremost as storytellers. Our goal is to give our customers the best expression of each terroir along with freshness, precision, sophistication, harmony and energy in each glass. And more and more, vintage after vintage, we tried to give all our cuvees a very nice graphite and juicy sensation. We want life and energy in the wine.
2010 was me and my brother’s first vintage with Grivot and with my dad, we continued to improve our style and the evolution of our wines. Our family works cooperatively to make decisions on how to make our wine, and our father and mother are still very much involved.
Have you changed your approach to winemaking over the years?
My father’s first vintage was 1982 and since that vintage he has always tried to improve. The wines got better in the late nineties and early 2000s. It used to be that when the wine was quite young it was difficult to understand as it took so long to be accessible and open. Many people opened the wines young and did not enjoy them as they did not show to their liking. When I arrived with my brother, we wanted to make wine that can age and travel well, but also be enjoyable when young.
Our goal was to make the wine smoother and more elegant and sophisticated. We also wanted more expression and liveliness on the palate. We certainly changed a few things, but it’s not a black and white situation. We tweaked some things, but mainly we were just altering our working wine production model.
We continue to destem everything in the harvest, as we want to maintain the purity of the berries. We ferment gently, we don’t want to press the skin too much as we don’t want any greenness or dirty sensation in the wine. 1 pumping over per day, with 2-3 pigeage just to crush the remaining berries. Our model is all about ensuring the purity of the fruit and keeping the wines as clear an expression of the berries as possible.
Has the amount of oak or new oak changed?
It’s true that 20-30 years ago we used a lot of new oak in some cuveés. But now we use less and less new oak. 25-30% for the villages wines, 35-40% for premier cru, and maximum 50% of new oak for grand cru.
We only use French wood.
We have a close relationship with our different coopers and we use different barrels, but with many different varieties of French woods. They all have a light toast. We want to put our signature on the wines, and not the signature of the barrel producer. To continue to have a good evolution for our wine over the long-term this is imperative. We age all our wines for 15 months in barrel and around 2 months in tanks.
What do you think of your 17s vs 18s? What do we recommend to our clients on how to drink the 18s?
17 is a very charming vintage, very approachable, drinkable and easier to understand. 2018 is more massive and complex.
With global warming, we have started to have the problem of the New World in which the acidity leaves the grapes fast, and so too will alcohol content increase fast. So you have to find the best time to pick the grapes to find the perfect maturity of the tannins. It was very difficult in 2018 because of the richness and heat of the vintage. The freshness is very important, and we never want to lose it.
We recommend you open bottle of 2018 and all our wines, 1-2 hours before drinking. Don’t use a decanter. Just open the bottle and leave it in a cool room.
2018 has great acidity and tannins and will age with no problem.
If you love wines in the young expression, I think you can start opening the Villages 2018s in the next 6 months. Boudots probably in the next year. Beaux Monts needs more time. It is always a difficult question, because the answer really depends on what you are looking for in your wine. If you want more tertiary notes and more maturity you should wait about 8-10 years.
We had a succession of beautiful vintages in Burgundy, but 2019 was really a great vintage. Small yield, but perfectly mature and balanced. My father told me he has never seen a vintage as good, as incredible, and as elegant as 2019. The extraction of color during the alcoholic fermentation was very fast. You had beautiful red fruit colors. It’s incredible because it is a mature vintage and very juicy. Sometimes if you have a mature vintage, it can feel boring and the wine lacks energy. It is very important to have the perfect energy and balance. 2019 has everything.
How are responsibilities divided up regarding the Domaine in your family?
My brother and I do more and more, and parents do less over time. Hubert is with the team in the vineyard and cellar. While I am travelling and in office more. In the Spring and Summer, I split my time 80/20 in the vineyards and in the office. If you want to make a good vintage, you have to work in the vineyard and keep the feeling of this new vintage! You can’t have the same information if you stay at the office and look at the vineyard from the window!
At the beginning we made wines with my father and brother, now slowly my brother and I do more.
What are your favorite vineyards that you work with?
In 2019, I was very proud of all our Nuits-Saint-Georges, because it can be a little masculine and more rustic (I hate this word) compared to the elegance and sophistication of Vosne-Romanée. I also think Clos Vougeot we have done a lot of work to improve over the years and am very proud of our expression of the terroir there.
Are your winemaking techniques different in each vineyard?
Not really. The only thing that is different is the age when the grapes are fully mature and ready to pick and when harvest should occur. Our Dad realized that Nuits-Saint-Georges and Clos Vougeot need more phenolic maturity than our other vineyards in Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny. We always need 8 days to pick wines at the Domaine. Nuits-Saint-Georges is always taking the longest to mature. You can find some rusticity and greenness if you don’t wait.
Who are other winemakers you think are doing tremendous work or that you have learned from?
I love to work in the vineyard and see how each winemaker operates. It is very important not to locked into one vision and to observe what others are doing. We have a lot to learn from each other. If it’s exactly the same vineyard you can pay attention and see how they manage different things. You can observe in the vineyard different approach and it is always very interesting to taste the wines after and compare the different vision and expression in the wines. I love to speak with Cecile Tremblay, she is a good friend. With her garden of 4ha she can try things that we can’t do with 15 ha and she also makes tremendous wine.
And otherwise, I love Cotes du Rhone, Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie, those vineyards are very difficult to take care of. It is interesting to see how they manage warm vintages.
What are some of the best wines you have tasted made by Domaine Grivot?
Richebourg 1989 – I opened this for a group of friends who were all winemakers and it was fantastic. It was a great memory to share this with good friends, who are also winemakers and to discuss this together.
Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts 2002 – Opened last year at Christmas and was amazing!
Clos des Vougeots 2008 - Was not an easy vintage, but my dad was fantastic in this vintage. Not perfectly mature, very difficult growing season, but we managed to make a complex and very interesting wine.