◆ What is the history of Beaujolais?Antoine ―― Beaujolais is not far from Lyons, the second largest city in France. It’s an industrial city that used to produce fabric, and was quite rich, so the Lyonnais used to buy vineyards with a beautiful house in the region to enjoy for short holidays, and their employees worked in the area. The Beaujolais Appellation came to be known as the 3rd river of Lyons ‒ in addition to the Saone and the Rhone which run through the city ‒ because all the wine in Beaujolais flowed into Lyons where it was drunk. In the past Beaujolais was popular and expensive.For me it is a catastrophe, but in 1951 it became legal to sell Beaujolais wine at the end of November in the year of harvest, which was the beginning of Beaujolais Nouveau. Nouveau is very easy to produce, just harvest the grapes, press to get the juice, wait a month and it is sold. It was really convenient because many growers could sell the wine at a good price before the hunting season. Unfortunately, over time, they forgot how to make wine, because they produce juice, and this juice becomes Nouveau.The Nouveau craze became hugely popular around the world from 1980 to 2000 (peaking in 2012 in Japan), but booms always end. During the Nouveau boom nobody produced appellation wines because the price was less than that for Nouveau, so if you made an appellation wine and matured it for 6 months and sold it the next May ‒ you’d lose money.◆ How did you get involved with Domaine de Boischampt?―― As the price of Nouveau decreased, the price of the vineyards did as well because nobody wanted to make the wine. About 15 years ago that enabled young people to start coming into the region because they could afford to buy land and started winemaking. I also saw the opportunity to do something and talked with Yuko Matsuoka Harris and Bob Harris, who are now partners and owners in the Domaine. It is just to the south of Burgundy, isn’t difficult to find vineyards, and we can improve the quality quite easily. And that is the beginning of our story.From there, our main concern was finding a winemaker, and we were fortunate that Thibaud Baudin joined us. He is 37 now, and has worked for us for 5 years. Thibaud had worked at Domaine de la Vougerie and was working in Domaine d’Henri in Chablis when I met him and offered him the challenge at Boischampt. I offered him a free hand within the Domaine, we would make the decisions together, and we had 10 years to achieve our objectives, because time is always a challenge in winemaking.We had two targets ‒ to make good quality wines, which is very easy to say but not to do; and to run the Domaine with organic f arming. So I asked him if he felt comfortable and he said yes.◆ After 5 years, how is progress?―― So far, so good. We are half way through our 10 year plan since we took over the Domaine in 2018. For the first challenge, to produce good quality wine, we started with 14 hectares in different plots (lieux-dits) in only two appellations, Juliénas and Beaujolais-Villages. I thought we needed a range in Beaujolais so we started buying grapes in Saint-Amour, Fleurie and Chenas. Subsequently, we have bought lieux-dits in Fleurie, Morgon, Chénas, Saint-Amour, and Moulin-à-Vent. We now have 34 lieux-dits in 6 of the 10 cru appellations, all in the north close to Burgundy, and also in Beaujolais-Villages.In the first year we didn’t work in the vineyard at all, we focused on the wine. I asked Thibaut what he needed and applying my 28 years of experience in the wine industry, focused on buying everything required to improve the quality of the wine. We installed a sorting table, destemmer, temperature control system in the vinification tanks, and a pneumatic press. Today the winery has a capacity for 1500 hectoliters in 33 vats: 75% in concrete mainly for vinification and the rest in stainless steel for ageing. We also have 38 French oak barrels in vaulted cellars dating back to the 16th Century with constant temperature and hygrometry. There is no new oak, the barrels are from 2 to 10 years old for subtle oaky notes and controlled oxygenation.In the winery our work is precise. The grapes are harvested by hand in small crates of 15kg to preserve the integrity of the berries. The destemming and pressing are carried out gently to respect the delicacy of the grapes. Winemaking is done at low temperature to favour the subtle and delicate aromas, and the barrels filled by gravity to work gently with the wines.◆ If Gamay is the sole grape in Beaujolais, what are the characteristics that differentiate the appellations? ――It comes from the terroir, and the unique choices in winemaking in response. Terroir is an abstraction ‒ people think it is the soil, but it is much more than that. It is the soil, the sub-soil, the orientation (exposures), altitudes, the winemaking, the history and the culture ‒ t he e xperience. In the north of Beaujolais where we are we have different terroirs, and the vineyards are located at 300-400 meters. Here it is granite, there it is volcanic, what we call blue stone.In Julienas we have blue stone, which means we produce very specific wines ‒we say they are cold, and need time to mature. And this influences our decisions on maturation. So when you see the differences in the soils and orientation of the vineyards you can imagine the differences they make in the wine.For example, our Domaine in Julienas has 7 hectares, and we have lieux-dits with different exposures. Our Julienas Les 4 Ceriseiers vineyard faces east to the sunrise; the Julienas Beauvernay has a south exposure; the Julienas Vayolette is north facing, and due to global warming the north-facing vineyards are the best because they give freshness. Previously north-facing was too cold and difficult to mature. We mature our Julienas for two years, the first year in barrels ‒ we don’t use new barrels because they are too woody and we don’t want a wood taste.We use barrels for fermentation, and the second year we take a different approach to each wine. For Les 4 Ceriseiers it’s in a stainless steel vat; for Vayolette in a cement tank; and Beauvernay stays in the barrel; and that gives them different flavours. So even with the same appellation we can have different tastes, from the exposure and the winemaking. ◆ What is involved in converting to organics?To be organic is a philosophy. Thibaut and I were on the same page from the beginning and committed to organics, and began work on the vineyards in our second year. Our target isn’t to maximize production, but rather to produce quality, so it isn’t necessary to have a full harvest. When you are organic you can’t use any product that can be taken up by the vine, only two surface products, sulphur and copper, on the vine. You must discontinue the use of herbicides for weed control and chemicals for bud pruning, replace mineral fertilezers with organic fertilizers, and stop the use of synthetic pesticides for pest and disease control. It takes a minimum of 3 years to convert and become certified, and the changes you see the taste of the wine is worth it.To realize organic farming meant we had to have good access to the vines, and with many of the existing vineyards that was impossible. We had to pull out 6 hectares and replant, which enabled us to set up the vineyards for organic farming. When you replant vines, the first harvest is 3 years later but it is a small harvest, and 4 years before you really produce. And to convert a vineyard to organic farming you need 4 years. That means we will be fully organic in 2024.◆ What does the future hold?Scaling up from 25,000 bottles of estate wine from 8 hectares last year, our plan is to be producing 100,000 bottles in 2025, as our new vines come into production. We have no further growth plans because that is the capacity of the winery, and the people we have working. 100,000 bottles is a lot, because we still have to develop the business. Beaujolais offers good value for money, and we will continue to focus on quality as the only way forward.◆ Where did the name Boischampt come from?Until a few months ago I didn’t know either. The property is quite old ‒ the Domaine dates back to 1642. I did some research and finally found it’s a contraction of the names of the two guys who created the Domaine, Du Bois, which means from the woods, and Duchamp, which means from the hills. The spelling with the ‘pt’ on the end is unusual, even in French.The Beaujolais AOCsWhile known worldwide over the last 40 years for Beaujolais Nouveau, the Beaujolais region has been producing wine since Roman times. This can be seen in the appellation name Julienas, which legend has it was named after Julius Caesar. The original Beaujolais appellations were established in 1936, with the regions and rules updated several times, most recently in 2011. Today there are 12 main appellations covering 96+ villages that make up Beaujolais. Gamay is the only red varietal accounting for 98 percent of production, and Chardonnay the only white varietal, accounting for 2 percent.Beaujolais AOC covers the whole region, but mainly refers to 60 villages in the south, with most sold as Beaujolais-Nouveau. Moving north, Beaujolais-Villages AOC covers 39 villages/areas in the Haut Beaujolais, and is allowed to create both a Red and White, often sold under the Beaujolais-Villages designation. The highest classification is Cru du Beaujolais, 10 individual villages/areas in the foothills of the Beaujolais mountains, close to Burgundy. The Boischampt winery is based in Julienas, the northern-most Cru, and has acquired vineyards in several other Cru.