Laurent Ponsot – The work of a visionary
After his central role in documentary, Sour Grapes, and now the release of his book, FBI Fausses Bouteilles Investigation, Laurent Ponsot has reached celebrity status in the wine world. While this has undoubtedly contributed to the renown of his own new label, Laurent Ponsot, the story of our friend and his extraordinary character runs deeper than a simple tale of brand-building.
Man vs. World
Family separations are hardly unusual in Burgundy – inheritance of a family business by multiple children is always complex, let alone when the inheritors have different ideas about how to build on the foundation their parents’ built. In 2017, Laurent took the decision to leave the family domain (Domaine Ponsot) and found his own “Atelier”. Seven years on, his strong convictions have evolved into a disruptive mission, bringing winemaking and wine security into the 21st century and beyond.
Laurent’s philosophy focuses on preservation of tradition in our ever-changing world. His playground – a state-of-the-art winemaking facility in Gilly-lès-Cîteaux, (Côte de Nuits) – certainly stands out in Burgundy. If the electric car chargers outside weren’t enough to prove that things are done differently at Laurent Ponsot, you need only walk through the front doors of his carbon-neutral winemaking Atelier to understand the full scope of his ambitions.
Laurent and his team live by two watch-phrases: “precision, precision, precision”, and “minimal intervention”. The first mantra forms a pathway to the second – transforming the purest expression of terroir carefully from vineyard through to table.
Method in his madness
For Laurent, a great wine starts with great ingredients. While he owns the Grand Cru vineyard responsible for his most iconic wine (Griotte Chambertin), the rest of his wines are made using grapes purchased through “fermages” – long-term contracts with growers, with whom Laurent has built up years of trust, and a shared passion for low-intervention viticulture.
Once the grapes reach the cellar, Laurent and his team have at their disposal an array of modern technology to facilitate precision winemaking. The “Ateliers” feature fermentation vats of Laurent’s own design, and two barrel rooms (one for sterilising used barrels, the other for maturation). The stations work in symphony to fight the primary agent of interference: oxygen.
Once the battle for preserving the taste of terroir is won, comes the war on damage of the finished bottles, and the defence against counterfeiting. Each bottle – which is filled on site, and closed using technical corks (controlling the amount of oxygen that enters the bottle over time) – is equipped with an NFC authentication tag. The bottles are then packed in shock-absorbing cases, each with their own temperature tracking device.
While fellow winemakers might find Laurent and his obsessive approach something of an enigma, his attitude towards preservation certainly resonates with us at 1275. Ultimately, we share his dream – that the effort we make now in taking proper care of these bottles will allow us to transport them safely into the future, for generations to come.