I’ll Drink To That: Claude de Nicolay of Burgundy’s Chandon de Briailles

Episode 377 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently and features an interview with Claude de Nicolay, the co-manager of Burgundy’s Chandon de Briailles domaine.

There is something particularly special about Claude de Nicolay, and I started to notice it right at the moment she referred to Corton as “a magical hill.” What is amazing about Claude is that she is utterly charmed and fascinated by her work in the vines. Yes, we all know dedicated and capable vigneron, of course, there are multitudes of them. But many times there is a shade in the successful vigneron of someone who values the fame, or the luxury, or the lifestyle. Not so with Claude. The amazing old house on the domaine? Claude reports that happily, her parents live in it, not her. Is she excited about travel, or the increased renown of her domaine? No, not really, but she is delighted with the results she has found spraying low-fat cow’s milk on the vines, a technique she believes can prevent oidium without resorting to more sulfur. And yes, it is true that there are many old school and old world vigneron who did and do their job faithfully each day, without recourse to fame. But in a lot of those cases, you don’t get the sense that they thought they had any real alternative. With Claude, this was a choice she made to work at the domaine. Her mother clearly gave her the opportunity to do something else, and Claude wanted above all to work in the vines. Her favorite parcel to work in, she mentions off-hand but with evident feeling, is Ile des Vergelesses in Pernand. This is vine work for its own reward, with reverence and respect for the job, but without the fetishism, you can find in wine. Personally, I found this conversation inspiring. Ever just want to do a really good job at something you enjoy? You might find a kindred spirit in Claude.

This episode has a Warm-Up from Erin about the wines of Pernand-Vergelesses.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine