Domaine Marc Delienne
‘I am a young winemaker,’ says Marc Delienne, who is now aged 60. He set up his domaine in 2015, ‘I had a great wine cellar in Paris,’ he shares. ‘I drunk a lot of wine; all the wines you can imagine.’ But now he says he wants alive wines, not dead ones, and he finds the classics too technological.
Marc Delienne sold his software engineering company and bought a Domaine in Fleurie, Beaujolais with the mission to create the best possible Beaujolais. And he has largely succeeded in his very first vintage. Despite the hail(s), the surviving grapes have matured beautifully and is turning out to be an absolutely classic vintage in the making. Low yields, great terroir, organic and biodynamic principles and a vision to create the best Beaujolais possible.
He did the first vinification in Beaujolais at Domaine de Fa with Alain Graillot in 2014. He has 12 hectares here, supplementing the 2 hectares on the slopes. The home block has more silt, but the base of the soil is granite. ‘My particularity here is the height of my vines,’ he says. Whereas the vines on the slopes are bush vines, these are trellised. ‘I never trip my vines,’ he says. ‘I tie the shoots in.’ They range in age from 45-90 years.
From the beginning he has farmed biodynamically, but he says that before he took them over they were farmed chemically, ‘like everywhere in Beaujolais.’ When he arrived, he says the soil was like concrete. To work the soils he has a special tractor that is high enough to go over the vines. What are the challenges working organically? ‘Mainly the herb control,’ he says (using ‘herb’ to refer generally to vegetation). ‘But the challenge is to make a good soil. It is sand, and when it rains, it erodes. So we need herbs but not too much.’
Delienne works naturally, just adding sulphites before bottling. The grapes are brought and whole bunches are put into the tanks. He has two different processes: pure carbonic maceration and semi-carbonic maceration. ‘For me, semi carbonic, I put grapes in and most days make a short pump over.’ There is no punching down or foot treading. He adds that for semi-carbonic he adds perhaps 500 kg of destemmed grapes at the bottom.
Half of the ageing is in wood and half in tanks. ‘I need more barrels,’ he says. ‘But it is too expensive.’ He’d like to make the ageing of his wines longer. In 2018 it was 15 months, and he wants to make it 2 years.
‘Beaujolais is first the fruit, then afterwards the tannins,’ says Delienne. ‘With Gamay, the fruit is wonderful: if you lose it, it is a pity. But to balance, you need tannins.’