Biodynamic. This Chardonnay comes from 35+ year old vines planted on limestone. Hand harvested, destemmed, and pressed. Native yeast fermentation in old foudres followed by aging and malolactic fermentation in used 600 L barrels. Bottled unfiltered with no additions beyond minimal sulfur.
Just a few years after earning a Masters degree in international law, Valentin Morel decided he would prefer to make wines inspired by his readings of biodynamic visionary Rudolph Steiner, the radical Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, and Matthew B. Crawford, the American champion of validated manual labor. Valentin studied winemaking in Alsace, where he was introduced and influenced by natural winemakers like Pierre Frick and Bruno Schueller, and returned to take over the family domaine in 2014. Rather than use his family name, Valentin decided to call his new domaine Les Pieds sur Terre, a double-entendre which means both Feet on the Ground and Vines in the Earth.
Valentin’s grandfather operated a sawmill in Poligny, one of the traditional metiers in this forested region. After retirement in 1978, he planted 10 hectares of vineyards with his son Jean-Luc. From 1978 to 1985, they sold off grapes to the local co-op, and in 1985, they began bottling their own wines. Jean-Luc had long involved with the local Confederation Paysan (farmers' alliance), and in 1999, stopped using herbicide and began plowing all of the vineyards. This literally laid the groundwork for the conversion to biodynamic agriculture when Valentin returned to Poligny.
The entire domaine is certified organic, but farmed "beyond organically," with cover crops and complementary plants like radishes and beans interspersed between rows of vines (which are rolled down rather than plowed each year) to ensure a healthy soil conservation. All the vineyards are hand harvested and vinified with native yeasts, with the absolute minimum addition of SO2 (many cuvées have none at all). Nothing else is used, as Valentin believes wine should be simply fermented grape juice and nothing else, and his wines must be considered as natural wines.
Valentin's philosophical reflections and active work as a militant and engaged paysan are an integral part of his domaine. He is engaged with the conventional farmers and has asked the AOC to be more accepting of natural wines. He works to encourage young organic producers to plant more vines to create more of a community of like-minded producers, and has planted an experimental block of resistant hybrids to be able to produce wines with no treatment whatsoever.