I’ll Drink to That: Burgundy Vigneron Jean-Pierre de Smet

Episode 455 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and features Jean-Pierre de Smet. Jean-Pierre was a co-founder and partner in Domaine de l’Arlot, the winery based in the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation. Jean-Pierre retired from l’Arlot in 2007, and has since that time been helping his friend Didier Fornerol make the Domaine Didier Fornerol wines, also in France’s Burgundy region.

Jean-Pierre de Smet came to wine almost by chance, on a family visit to an old friend’s home in Morey-Saint-Denis, and stayed with it for the rest of his adult life — in between sailing trips around the world, headlong ski sprints down steep slopes, and bicycle tours of Europe. Jean-Pierre seems to have embraced all of his activities fully, and certainly the wines he made at Domaine de l’Arlot have been recognized as accomplished and pure. This discussion with Jean-Pierre is remarkable for the window it provides on the transition of thought in Burgundy from the 1970s through the 1990s, as vigneron there tasted together regularly, embraced different work in the vineyards, thought about the way vines should be trained, sorted fruit at the harvest, and changed their regime in the cellar. If you would like to better understand the groundwork behind Burgundy being so admired today, this is a great listen. Jean-Pierre patiently and thoroughly explains his different projects in the cellar and in the vines, and he is clear about who influenced him and what he took from those mentors — people like Jacques Seysses, Patrick Bize, and Anne-Claude Leflaive. Before you drink your next glass of Burgundy, listen to this interview.

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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