Burgundy Wine, a Family Affair

A magnificent tasting of wines from one of Burgundy’s most renowned producers, Domaine Ponsot in Morey-St-Denis, one of the few wineries that can boast 12 grand cru wines. Guided by Laurent Ponsot’s sister, Rose-Marie, who has been running the family winery since 1997, during the Taste Workshop The Terroirs of Chambolle, Morey and Gevrey According to Domaine Ponsot you’ll taste six 2006 wines from three of the best Côte de Nuit villages: Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St-Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin. As well as the great classic Clos de la Roche, whose historic nucleus is owned by the winery, we’ll also have Chapelle and Griotte Chambertin and white Morey-St-Denis 1er cru Clos des Mont Luisants, from old vines.
Here Rose Marie talks about the story of her land.

Could you summarize the history of the Ponsot winery?

The story begins with my grandfather’s uncle, William Ponsot, who acquired and settled at the winery in 1872. After him, the winery was inherited by my grandfather Hyppolite, a scholar who had studied law and decided to instead dedicate himself entirely to wine. Since he didn’t grow up amongst the vines, the help of all the winemakers in the area was extremely important in setting up the company. We owe him two great innovations in the management of wine production: thanks to his law studies he promoted and participated in the “appellation controllée” classification in Burgundy. His travels abroad also helped him understand the importance of exporting, an activity which he began in 1936, revealing him to be a true forerunner. My father, Jean-Marie, continued the activities of the winery focusing in particular on the health of the vineyard. He was careful to select the best vines and manage the vineyard without the use of chemicals. My brother Laurent began working with him at the beginning of the 80’s and we jointly took on the management of the winery in 1997. Our two other sisters also help and so it is still very much a family-run activity. Laurent has widened our selection of great wines, helping to strengthen our exports and improve our business.

What is the Ponsot philosophy?
We can define it as an alliance between tradition and innovation. We use the most innovative instruments and techniques, but at the same time we try to interfere as little as possible in the winemaking process. In reality we don’t “make wine”, we accompany it in its process of transformation, trying to obtain the best product possible with all that nature offers us every year. We are here to assist, not direct it. We produce authentic wines, without necessarily wanting to produce an organic wine.

What kind of relationship do you have with your clients? Have you noticed a growing attention towards wines and their method of production?
Without a doubt our clients are much more attentive and better informed than a few years ago, both in France and abroad. They ask questions, they are precise. The culture of the world of wine is spreading rapidly. I have to admit that at times our wines aren’t very simple to understand. It is a bit like standing in front of a piece of modern art: the meaning is not immediately clear and you have to dedicate some time to developing an understanding. It is the same with our wines: if you drink them quickly you risk losing the full experience of their many different hues. It is better to take time to enjoy a glass of wine along with a nice meal and good company. This is how they transmit their intensity. We don’t produce trendy wines, but wines that go beyond fashion, respecting the irregularities of nature.

How do you imagine the future of wine in France?

People are starting to pay attention once again to authentic values. I think the era of commercial wines is coming to a close. Clearly, winemakers must adapt to the needs of their clients: it is increasingly rare to find people willing to buy very expensive bottles to be stored in cellars for many years. New clients prefer tasting their wines in a short time and it is up to us winemakers to adapt to their requests, always offering products of the highest standard.

Alessia Pautasso

[email protected]



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