It was 11 am when Jean Philippe appeared at the door of La Terre d’Or. I was having a cup of coffee and looking at the gorgeous view of Beaune while Mikhail Pletnev was playing Scarlatti. I took one last sip, grabbed my coat and walked to the taxi. “How was your evening at Sushi Kai?” asked Jean Philippe. It was not one of those insincere small talks we have every day. He was simply curious. He is one of the most candid taxi drivers I’ve ever met I thought. I’ve learned that he works very intense during the season and travels to south when Burgundy is covered under snow. He speaks fluent English, which he had learned with his clients over the years. He told stories about the villages of Burgundy while we were driving towards Nuit-Saint Georges.
After half an hour, I arrived at Domaine Faiveley: one of the biggest wine producers in Burgundy. Faiveley differentiates from others by owning more than 130 ha in the region including many Grand Crus and Premier Crus. This is not a common structure in such a fragmented region and consequently provides the luxury of having control of the vineyards. A young, successful and enthusiastic manager Erwan Faiveley runs the Domaine. And his sister Eva Faiveley is the Communication Manager who kindly welcomed me to the winery. Few minutes later, Stephen Brook walked in and I joined him for an hour of tasting.Jérome Flous, the winemaker (a Bordelais with a Burgundian soul!) had already prepared many sample bottles of 2015 vintage. We tasted many different plots trying to understand the aspect of this warm vintage and how it affects each vineyard. Among many others, Latricières-Chambertin was a great wine expressing the terroir with refined red fruits flavors, high concentration and long mineral finish. Mazis-Chambertin was on the other hand more expressive and powerful with rich spicy character and pronounced red fruit notes. Clos de Beze Les Ouvrees Rodin Grand Cru, named after the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin was also one of my favorites, with many layers of flavors and exceptional length.
Tasting was a gorgeous part of the day, but the developments at the Domaine are even more interesting. I asked Erwan Faiveley few questions starting with one of the topical issues “Following such acquisitions as Domaine Dupont-Tisserandot in Gevrey Chambertin and Billaud-Simon in Chablis, should we expect more surprises in the near future?”
“I would be thrilled to add a little more gems to our Domaine” said Faiveley. “Now, top vineyards in Burgundy are very rarely on the market. That being said, I am still bullish on Chablis. I hope to find a little more vineyards there to add to Billaud-Simon. It will have to be top-quality, centered on the grand crus and premiers crus. And those vineyards are rare as well.”
My next question was more about the challenges of communicating with end consumer while distributing to so many countries via importers and distributors.
With his own words: “Our wines are distributed in more than 60 different countries, and we have been working with those importers for many decades. Getting to know our end-consumer is essential for me. This is why I spend a lot of time travelling to get to know them. With our importers, we organize many tastings, wine events and dinners. And even though we are not open to public, we still host many people here at the Domaine in Nuits St Georges. “ And he adds: “Last but not least, I am trying to be quite active on Facebook and Instagram. It’s very rewarding and heartwarming to see people following us, and liking what we do. It fuels the passion that drives us every day. “
Faiveley believes that the beauty of Burgundy is its ability to produce wines with very different personalities. But he also drinks wines from different regions. He mentions that he really enjoys Barolos and of course Bordeaux has a special room in his cellar. He is also always keen on a nice bottle of Champagne.
Since 2004, many things have changed and evolved at Domaine Faiveley. But I was wondering what actually changed with him:
“What has changed… Well, many things. I am quieter, I listen more to nature and my instincts. I try to be less anxious, and enjoy the days as they come. Now, is it really the wine industry? I just believe it’s getting older, and therefore a little wiser.“