Like many of our growers, Jérôme Guichard is a quiet, humble and hard working guy who spends the vast majority of his life out amongst the vines. In 2011 after several years of apprenticeship, he bought an old farmhouse and just under three hectares of old Chardonnay vineyards in the commune of Montbellet in the Mâconnais from a man of similar principles, natural wine legend Guy Blanchard.
Both the farmhouse and vineyard had been in Monsieur Blanchard’s family for generations, with the vines having been tended the only way the family knew how, organically, since 1917. In this less storied part of Burgundy, mixed agriculture is practiced, ensuring great biodiversity. Despite already having a name for making some of the best wines in the region, until 1998 Guy’s main concern was looking after a herd of goats.
The beautifully remote vineyards are surrounded by forest and planted over that classic Burgundian mix of clay and limestone, the proportion of which varies between the crus. Jérôme continues the work of his mentor, with a focus on helping the vines stay healthy naturally, through the use of herbal plants and organic teas. Likewise in the cellar, wines rest sur lie until ready and nothing is added at any stage. The result is Chardonnay unlike any we have tried, with a liveliness and spectrum of aromatics we rarely associate with the grape.
Recently, Jérôme has acquired a little over a hectare of Gamay vineyards where the Mâconnais meets Beaujolais in Leynes. Planted in 1946, the vines sit amongst the woods at the foot of a volcanic mountain and possess a palpable sense of energy from its black volcanic soils.