Domaine in Volnay in Côte-d’Or

THE HISTORY

In 2005, after seven generations of his family, Marc-Olivier Buffet became the main player at Domaine François Buffet. He brings to bear all of his passion and expertise for and in grape-growing and wines.

Today the Domaine (estate) covers a surface area of more than 7.5 hectares (18½ acres) and produces 15 appellations using grapes grown in the municipalities of Volnay and Pommard, not forgetting some great parcels of vineyards in Savigny-lès-Beaune and Pernand-Vergelesses.

Marc-Olivier succeeded his father Jacques (born: 1939) who notably managed 40 grape-harvests from (1965 to 2004) at the Domaine. It was during these years (in 1972) that a new horizontal screw-press was introduced at the Domaine. It was also during these years that the de-stemming machine bought by Léon in 1932 was replaced by more modern equipment.

Let us continue our trip down memory lane. François Buffet (1911-1965), Jacques’ father, brought about a great revolution as regards grape-growing on the Domaine.

In 1954 the horses “Mascotte” and “Bibi”, and also the associated equipment (ploughs and so forth) were replaced with very modern equipment - a Bobard tractor manufactured in Beaune !

Fruit trees, peach trees and cherry trees, and likewise asparagus plants, were removed from the rows of vines.

Léon Buffet (1873-1953), François’ father, was able to choose, at grape-harvest time, to de-stalk grapes in part or in full, due to the purchase in 1932 of a device which was very modern at the time - a de-stemming machine.

As regards sulfiting of the vines, the packsaddle carried by a horse was replaced in 1937 by a device pulled by a horse.

At this time the great challenge was the successive replacement of vines that had been affected by the phylloxera grape vine disease.

During the World War I, when Léon was called up to the army, his wife Marie and his mother Clémence managed the grape-growing and wine-making.

Claude Buffet (1813-1894), Léon’s father, apart from the aspect of his life dealing with vines and wine, witnessed the introduction of stamps in France in 1849, and this facilitated his commercial correspondence (see the attached letter dated 17 September 1871).

And going back further into the past traces can be found of Jean-Baptiste Buffet, Claude Buffet and the arrival of the Buffet family in Volnay in 1692, when the family moved from Pommard.

Like all wine-lovers you will be aware that it is by talking to wine-growers that you can come to an understanding of a terroir’s soul, and that your window into it is the very personal and unique wines produced by each wine-grower. (Terroir: unique growing conditions, which include things like soil, climate/weather, aspect, etc.).

OUR PHILOSOPHY

Viticulture

To get the best out of our terroir, and so that we can make a wide variety of wines, we employ growing practices which are known as "integrated" growing practices. We do not use weed-killer or anti-rot sprays.

We use ancestral knowledge of soils and of the environments of soils, as follows :

  • Observing plants enables us to garner knowledge about how healthy soil is (for instance thistles and bindweeds will tell us that the soil is badly aired, and that there is little aerobic life). Clover tells us that soil lacks organic matter, and so on.
  • Ploughing, racking and bottling are more or less successful depending on the stage in the Moon’s cycle.
  • Much thought must be put into mildew-prevention and powdery mildew-prevention treatments – these treatments mainly employ copper and sulphur. We prefer to employ compost rather than chemical fertilisers.

To conclude, our philosophy is to give full expression to our out-of-the-ordinary terroir, by limiting productivist human influences which often disturb nature’s ways and which result in “production-line" wines.

Grape-harvests

Grape-harvests are fully manual and grapes are meticulously selected.
Our harvest is de-stemmed and it is then put in wooden vats.

Wine-making

Wine-making is carried out in a traditional fashion. The initial process takes between two and three weeks. Grapes are fully or partially de-stemmed - or not at all - depending on the cru and on the vintage in question.
Then the wines are put in barrels for about 18 months. (approximately 20% of the barrels are new ones).