François Écot is L'Insolent: one of the original rule breakers when it comes to playing fast and loose with the conventions of French winemaking.
An accordion tuner and jazz pianist who worked in bars, François learnt to drink natural wine in its pre-moniker era: as yet unnameable, not yet ‘natural’. From there he segued into the industry proper, co-founding the vanguard import business (Jenny + François Selections) that would discover first French – and then European and US – natural wine for New York. Écot, who grew up on the outskirts of Paris, and whose family had a house in Burgundy, had studied winemaking in Beaune and was inspired by the new natural wine movement in French viticulture.
Today he’s moved deeper and is a winemaker (and negociant) himself – working with a small parcel on a slope in an overlooked corner of Eastern Burgundy. He now calls his grandfather’s house in Mailly-le-Château (on the edge of Chablis) home and has a small garage-like vat room that was a stone barn in another life. Here he uses a mixture of large wood, plastic, concrete tanks and amphora to create his magic.
In addition to the traditional Pinot and Aligoté that the region is known for, François works with indigenous grapes, including Gamay, Pinot Beurot, César, Pineau d’Aunis, and Abouriou. Most of his sources are either purchased or rented (including some plots in Fleurie) and so he bottles under the L’Insolent Négoce moniker. The vineyard that he does own is near his house and was abandoned for 80 years before he resurrected it. Many of the heritage grapes planted there are sourced from other natural winemaking colleagues, including Dominique Derain, Marc Pesnot, and Christian Chaussard.
François has been lovingly referred to as the “Willy Wonka of Winemaking” due to his inventive ideas about fermentation resulting in wines that are very much alive and vibrant.