Portraits Vignerons - Regarde, tais-toi et apprends - Les Grappes

"Watch, shut up and learn"

This rather austere family motto has enabled the Brocard family to establish the Jean-Marc Brocard estateas one of the star winemakers of Chablis. Wine, Earth, Nature and Tradition. Follow me on this journey!

Can you tell us a little more about your background and why wine ?

Born in Burgundy toa family of modest farmers, I wanted to stay on this poor little farm to keep in touch with nature and for the sake of freedom. After obtaining a BTS BE and a happy spell in a design office, I was given the opportunity to return to my family-in-law's vineyard in Saint Bris le Vineux as a clerk.The encounter with this new activity, my father-in-law Emile Petit and his friends, was an exceptional enrichment carried by the values of the land that I knew, the men, and the final product: its Synthesis. I had the choice of continuing to grow cherries, but I preferred to concentrate on wine, a non-perishable product that allows me to control its marketing and to meet consumers from all over the world and from different horizons.Wine, before being born, requires a long work in the vineyard; not only annual through the four seasons, but anticipatory, or consequent of our own acts or of the hazards of nature over many years.

If you had to embody a wine?

It's not always the same depending on the day or the time; I recognize myself more in a Chablis Sainte Claire(which varies according to the season but always ends well). I prefer the Vieilles Vignes which represents the late Petit Louis my Master, but I don't deserve this comparison.

What is your favourite time of year?

The passage of each season is always a rebirth, a marvel. However, despite the hard work, the harvest is a gift from nature that must be welcomed with respect and joy, despite the results.

What two words best describe your character?

They are not necessarily qualities and it is perhaps not for me to qualify myself. I would say observant and reactive.

An anecdote to share?

Many anecdotes have happened in the cellars. Throughout history, wine has been a vehicle for bringing people together and sharing; the cellar remains the timeless temple that protects you from the view and from outside aggression. The most famous anecdote was the recovery of the young footballer Tainio by Guy Roux in competition with other international clubs.The coach of Auxerre had gathered in the cellar, the parents of the player from Northern Finland, the interpreters and his staff.Unwilling to leave their son at Auxerre, after hours of difficult conversations and excessive consumption of our best bottles, the Tainio parents clapped their hands and understood that the best place for their son was there.

What is the meeting that has marked you the most?

My most beautiful encounter was undoubtedly that of Louis Petit, who took me in as his son and accompanied me for 35 years in this journey through the vineyard, the wine, the men and women. He was my master.If every encounter is a sharing of prejudices, I was also particularly fascinated by the wisdom, the simplicity, the reservoir of knowledge of the poet and friend Jacques Lacarriere whom I met thanks to Louis.

What is it about the world of wine that you find unbearable?

It's the dogma, the hasty judgement, the certainties of certain tasters, and the dissection of the product which consists of focusing only on the defects. Dissection is death, whereas a wine in its entirety represents life, we instinctively love it with its defects which are often very useful in its development. You remind me of sensory analysis which is a monumental bullshit of dissection leading to the standardization of the product. Every place, every being is a difference, an evocation, a respect is ONE.

"Watch, shut up, learn" is how you were trained as a winemaker, are you reproducing this same philosophy with your son?

Our three children have received the same education, the one we ourselves received from our farming parents. We didn't force them to do so, but I think that they are imbued with these values. Julien, who runs the estate, isperfectly in tune with this philosophy.

Your son and yourself are particularly turned towards Biodynamics and the estate now markets a wide range of biodynamic wines. Do you think that this is a real return to the roots or a trend that will fade with time ?

The return to Biodynamicsis Julien's initiative.Started in 1998 on an 11-hectare plot of land called "la boissonneues", Julien undertook this long-term project out of a conviction that the life of the soil and the plant could be improved.Convinced of a better exploration of the soils, of a temperance of the vine, in spite of difficult passages. It is not for the sake of fashion or communication that Julien has applied himself to this work. The results are undeniable, if however the wines are not standard models of the latest fashion. They have the merit of being awake and particularly lively, with perhaps some flaws... Yes, it's just a return to the roots, already practiced by my father on his small farm. He had not entered into the chemical conformism of the post-war period.

You donated one of your parcels to the Hospices de Beaune and you are now the first estate in the Chablis appellation to participate in this charity. What prompted you to make the donation?

Why do you want to publicise this act? It's the same act as the poor man giving a euro to a needy person, and some well-known colleagues have pointed out to me that it's not a big donation considering our surface area (they themselves haven't done anything yet...).In short, this donation is a small sign of gratitude to my native Burgundy,near Beaune.This Burgundy is that of Vincenot, of the Brocard lineage a few leagues from my village, Chaudenay le Château.It was at the Hospice Hospital that my father passed away. The media talked about it, it wasn't planned, but a big thank you for this publicity.

Find thewines of Jean-Marc Brocard on Les Grappes

Loïc Tanguy, Les Grappes contributor

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