Today’s Exclusive: Anne Parent, Domaine Parent
Pommard – Burgundy, FR
by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML
Ever wonder who Thomas Jefferson’s Burgundian wine supplier was? Just ask the formidable Madame Anne Parent of Domaine Parent in Pommard, whose winemaking heritage harkens back twelve generations, including an ancestor who served as wine supplier to Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States.
I first encountered Madame Parent at the Terroirs et Signatures de Bourgogne 2014 Seattle Trade Show – her wines ferocious in flavor and unflinching in tensile structure – a combination of power and finesse, coupled with undeniable character.
Here, Mdm. Anne Parent graciously shares a bit about her wines and winemaking with the Red Thread™:
R/T™ : Who or what brought you to winemaking?
MAP: Actually, I have wanted to have this job since I was a little girl. When my father retired, my sister Catherine and I took over the Domaine. Winemaking has always fascinated me, it thus came very naturally.
R/T™: Share with readers the brief history of Domaine Parent. What makes it unique?
MAP: The origin of the Parent family dates back to the 17th century in Volnay, and then one of our ancestors came to Pommard to settle down. Catherine and I represent the 12th generation of winegrowers, which is quite unique. We represent the very long history of this family, who has always owned vineyards on Pommard, which is our specialty.
Last but not least, our ancestor Etienne Parent became the Burgundy wine supplier of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the USA.
R/T™: Some Burgundian-trained women winemakers speak of having to fight for a place in school and in the vineyard. As a formidable vigneron, industry leader (past VP of BIVB) and founder of Femme et Vins de Bourgogne, you seem inured to the battle. Do you find Burgundy more receptive to women winemakers today?
Indeed, during ages women could not go into the cuveries, mainly for religious reasons.
Mentalities have now changed a great deal and today, despite its authentic and traditional aspect, Burgundy is open-minded, and lots of women are involved in wine production.
In the old days, sons always succeeded to their fathers, or daughters had to marry winegrowers.
Nowadays, women are renowned to be as professional and skilled as men.
R/T™: What was your impetus for starting Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne? Has the success of the organization surprised you?
MAP: My first motivation was the need to share and exchange technical information on wine-growing and winemaking.
Moreover, it was important to go and taste at each other’s Domaine, to learn to know each other and defend women status in wine properties.
When we created this association in 2000, we were only 6. Today we are more than 40, representing the 5 Burgundy sub-regions: Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Châlonnaise, and Côte Mâconnaise.
This is why I am particularly proud of this association, which promotes diversity of Burgundy wines, wine culture, and the know-how and competence of the women who are involved in winemaking.
R/T™: You’ve taken a leadership position in the reclassification process of Pommard Grand Crus. Many readers may not know the history of Pommard’s original 1935 classifications. Explain the reasoning for the reclassification, and its impact if approved.
MAP: The two Premiers Crus “les Epenots” and “les Rugiens” that we are trying to reclassify in Grand Cru had already been proposed when the INAO (National Institute of Appellations of Origin) was created in 1935. At the time, winegrowers had not been able to agree because they were afraid of higher taxes and lower yield. In the confusing context of the time, Premiers Crus were better sold than Grand Crus. Thus, the proposal did not succeed.
Today, everybody agrees on the renowned quality of these two Premiers Crus, which has always been more highlighted than the other Premiers Crus, and that Pommard would deserve to have one or two Grand Crus. The official reclassification request was officially processed to the INAO in 2014, but it is a long and complex procedure, and we cannot know today what the result will be.
R/T™: You’ve spoken with great force and affection about the clay soils of Pommard, and the wines created there – expressive, intense, complex. Yet you also work with other regions as well: Corton, Ladoix, Monthelie, Volnay. How do these various terroirs impact the flavor profiles of the wines produced there, as compared to your beloved Pommard? Do you have a favorite?
MAP: Pommard is an appellation with a certain character, and much personality.
Wines can be powerful, intense, and solid, but also refined, elegant, stylish, complex and sensual.
Pommard is one of the greatest appellation of great wines of Burgundy, and especially of Côte de Beaune. It produces exclusively Reds, with a good potential for ageing. Pommard cannot be compared to any other appellation.
Of all the charming and seductive Premiers Crus which we produce at Domaine Parent, my two favorites are “Les Epenots” and “Les Chaponnières.
R/T™: Domaine Parent is in the process of 100% biodynamic certification. What led you to invest in biodynamic farming? What challenges do you face?
MAP: When my sister Catherine and I took over the Domaine in 1998, we very quickly orientated ourselves towards sustainable winegrowing methods. We also have worked a lot on soil analyses and terroir organic matters.
We wanted to go further in this process, by personal philosophy. We had the feeling that we could work differently, respecting the environment, protecting our health and bringing more precision in our wines.
We are now certified organic. We also use biodynamic processes. These cultural methods make us work more rigorously, observe more and we need to be very reactive, but the challenge is definitely worth it and we see the benefits every day.
RT™: Anything else you care to share with readers about your domaine, your wines, or about Burgundy that readers may not know?
MAP: Burgundy is not complicated but rich of appellations.
It is a patchwork of different terroirs, and an alchemy between the two authentic and historical grape varieties : Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is made of multiple and mysterious terroirs and climats of our villages, and different winegrowers and winemakers.
Balance is the main goal at Domaine Parent, be it in its vineyards or in its wines.
R/T™: One final question: “If wine making has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?
MAP: If wine making has taught me anything, it’s taught me to stay humble in front of nature, to be amazed in front of vineyards, and realize that if oenology is a science, winemaking is an art.
For more information about Femmes & Vins de Bourgogne:
For more information about Domaine Parent:
Mdm. Anne Parent – Domaine Parent
Alix de Gramont – Bourgognes Parent
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