Nicolas Joly and Jacques Selosse: where does the hype stops and the truth starts?

Their wines are something akin to a cult. Joly is one of the leading exponents of the biodynamic movement. And I haven’t seen this much hype around a wine producer (Selosse) since the Judgement of Paris.

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I’ve visited Coulee and was fortunate enough to be shown round by the man himself - passionate and informative is an understatement …as for Steiners Biodyamic movement - some aspects I get but…

Of course some of his presence has worked as marketing and to boost the profile (and price) of his wines…but they are, if you like Savennieres, stunning expressions of Chenin and the Loire.


They certainly can be. The problem is they are unreliable. The last one I had tasted of chlorinated swimming-pool water.

I guess “unreliable” is the same thing with Selosse’s wines. When you get a good bottle, they are worth every penny you (or preferably someone else) paid. But a good 50% - in my experience - are unacceptably oxidised.

I suppose you could say that both these producers are pushing things closer to the edge than anyone else is for their respective wine types. With that comes the risk that a higher proportion of the output will have toppled over that edge. It’s up to the consumer to decide whether that is an acceptable risk.

That puts a lot on the shoulders of wine writers and merchants. Personally, I consider it unacceptable that wine writers or critics write on the basis of one bottle and extrapolate their views onto the rest. You just can’t do that when production is so variable. So hats off to Tyson Stelzer, who of the champagne writers points out the risks. And of course ditto to any others who do likewise.


I’ve not had the reliability issue (6 or so bottles so far) and still have a few bottles in the cellar - so fingers crossed

You are right, these producers are pushing things but they are (imho) pushing from a growing position more than a production point…But you do have to be very careful in production but a wine spoilt there would not be bottled.

and yes, those writing about wine should do more than just rave about a wine…but it doesn’t always get them an invite back the next time

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You are right there, @JamesF. Some writers have been banned for having the temerity to say what they think.

On the variability issue, I get the impression that it can be as much a year-to-year and a batch-to-batch thing for Joly’s wines, more of a bottle variation thing for Selosse, though even there some particular lines do crop up more frequently in mentions in discussion.

There are particular issues with champagnes that still wines do not have to face. In particular, dégorgement can pose a variable oxidative shock on a bottle-by-bottle basis, which might go part of the way to explain things with the Selosse wines.

I’m less sure that Joly’s variability is due to anything much with his biodynamic regime in the vineyard, more perhaps in the cellar. Though I understand his daughter has taken over more control there lately, so maybe we might see some change there. Still, this is only me surmising.

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I have had some very enjoyable bottles of Joly’s wines and also read his book on biodynamics. He is certainly passionate and informative but his book does lack a certain academic rigour which I (as a fairly open minded individual on the subject of biodynamics) found quite offputting.

His neighbour, Evelyne de Pontbriand at Domaine du Closel has also adopted biodynamic methods but is much more down to earth than Joly. She speaks very amusingly about meetings with him where she could tell how enraged he was getting by how quickly his toes were tapping in his open sandals. One of her wines is names in honour of their neighbourly disagreements and is well worth a go…


@wineboar this one is a lot cheaper than the average Culee du Serrant! I think i bought a bottle not too long ago but haven’t tried it yet. Looking forward to it.

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I wrote earlier of my visit to Roc aux Moines and later Joly, I have never at both wineries tasted wines so disparate, quite incredible that they could go from unbalanced and alchoholic and downright unpleasant to sublime, I purchased and brought back 2010s from both but again I repeat from that experience I would never take a critics or the wineries word and purchase blind from either of them.