THE ESTATE
The Guyots are one of the oldest families in Marsannay-la-Côte. Louis Guyot was a small farmer/wine-grower with many animals, particularly carthorses which he used to help in the vineyards and at harvest time.
In 1951, his son Albert took over the family farm. Most of the vineyards and fields were located at Marsannay-la-Côte. His wine was mainly sold on to merchants.
In 1962, Albert married Odile Guyard, the eldest daughter of a large family. Odile’s father, Georges Guyard was a small landowner and nurseryman. He decided to rent out some vineyards and then bought some to enlarge his own estate bit by bit. To save his horses the journey between the two villages (7 km), he swapped his Gevrey-Chambertin Grands Crus (Lavaux St-Jacques) for land at Marsannay-la-Côte !!!…
Since 1990, Olivier Guyot has been in sole charge of the estate which stretches from Marsannay-la-Côte to Gevrey-Chambertin. Today the estate comprises a number of small plots covering 15 hectares. Pinot Noir is the only grape variety used for our red wine and Chardonnay the only grape variety for our white. Each plot is different in terms of soil composition, depth, height (above sea-level) and aspect – the epitome of the richness and individuality of the Burgundian terroir.

INTERVIEW WITH OLIVIER GUYOT, A WINE-GROWER

• Olivier Guyot, you were born into a family of wine-growers, weren’t you ?…
Absolutely ! My mother went into the hospital on the last day of the grape harvest, after the Paulée, on 23rd October 1963 - the harvest was late that year. Just a few days later my parents would leave me in my Moses basket at the end of a row of vines while they worked.

• You learned a lot from your grandfather, I believe ?…
Oh yes. I used to go with him all the time to the vineyards, his nursery (his main job was as a nurseryman). He taught me to graft, to prune, to plough and always in ways that respected nature.
I learned wine making in other estates in France and I’ve gradually gained experience by making wine here on my own estate.

• Yours is a demanding job. What made you take up bio-dynamic cultivation which surely imposes additional constraints ?
Yes and no. I have always believed that each of us, in his own way, can respect the environment. The older generation believed that heavy use of fertilizers was good for vines. This is not case. For ten years now I have worked the soil hard – ploughing, earthing up, de-earthing – this all takes time, but I no longer have to weed. The quality of the grapes has improved and this is reflected in wines that are naturally well balanced and have the ‘feel’ of their terroir. This is the very spirit of Burgundy.

• What advantages does this form of cultivation have over the more traditional methods ?
Rather than bore you with technicalities, let me just give you a recent example - 2003, the year of the heat wave and drought. I was talking about this just now. Because I’ve been working the soil hard for a number of years, the roots of my vines go deep, as much as 10, even 15 metres. At that depth they were able to find what they needed to survive the drought. What’s more, we didn’t thin the leaves so as to protect the grapes. You could see the difference between ours and the neighbouring vineyards – the foliage was green and much denser. When you see results like that you really feel inspired to carry on.

• You can’t be everywhere at once, so I assume that your wife, Réjane, is a great help to you ?…
Oh yes ! Réjane is responsible for all the administrative side of the business. This means that I can concentrate on what I really love : vines, winemaking and tasting.

• Your most unusual helper must surely be Indigo (see photos and videos),your sturdy carthorse !
He has been a great help for 12 years now, especially in working the vineyards.

• What gave you the idea of using a carthorse ?
After a holiday… in a horse drawn caravan, Réjane and I both love horses so we bought Indigo for work and pleasure – ploughing and carriage rides (for us and our customers).

• When we see you so at home in your vineyards, it’s hard to imagine you anywhere else. And yet you travel a lot to present your wines and share your love of winemaking…
Yes, I need to keep in contact with wine lovers, I think it’s important to hear what they have to say.
After almost two years’ work, growing vines and maturing wine, I can finally spend time to get to know them – I always look forward to these meetings but I’m pretty anxious at the same time.

• So tell me, how would you describe your wines ?
On the whole, my wines are floral, elegant, gourmand, sensual when drunk from two to six years old 
The Gevrey and the Grand Crus are more concentrated, more substantial, wines to be laid down to gain fullness and finesse as they age.

• What ambitions do you have for the future ?
To keep improving so as to satisfy those who appreciate good wine !… also to expand sales throughout the world. Constructing a vat-room would make our work easier.
But the most important thing is that every one of the bottles we produce is enjoyed to the full by those who share it !