Marcel Couturier comes from a long line of vignerons in the southern Mâconnais, where he is just one of four producers estate bottling in Mâcon-Loché. Working his family’s old chardonnay vines, he began estate-bottling in 2005 and has quickly made a name for himself throughout France. Marcel likes to take his time, working intuitively, with respect for each terroir and resulting wine. Descending from many generations of farmers in the Mâconnais, he is patient in the vineyard and the cellar, allowing time for each wine to reveal itself. Marcel stands out as a traditionalist with his old vines and high standards in an area that is quickly defining itself as a source of top-notch white Burgundy.
In total, Marcel farms 11 hectares of chardonnay vineyards in multiple appellations: Pouilly-Fuissé, Pouilly-Loché, Saint-Véran, Mâcon-Loché, Mâcon-Vinzelles, and Mâcon Blanc. Most of his vines are quite old, with many parcels exceeding 70 years of age and his “young” vines averaging 30 years in age.
His farming is meticulous, employing only certified-organic and biodynamic (pending biodynamic certification in 2021) methods; he plows the soil to curtail weeds and believes the hard, poor clay soils greatly benefit from the aeration and the introduction of native organic materials. His farming style could be described as regenerative in that he has taken great care to improve the soil in each of the vineyards he farms. Being a traditional farmer, Marcel lets his chickens, geese, and guinea fowl roam the vineyards for natural pest control and to add valuable nitrogen to the poor Burgundian soils. As the summers become warmer, Marcel keeps pushing his harvest dates earlier to maintain freshness and liveliness in the wine.
Marcel is notable for being a complete non-interventionist, utilizing spontaneous, native yeast fermentation that takes place deep in his cold cellar in Loché. He does not add sulfur to the grapes when they arrive in the winery. The resulting fermentations are long and cool, as Marcel never rushes his fermentations by warming the cellar. Both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations occur naturally in traditional Burgundy barrels. He retains some of the gross lees during fermentation, resulting in a small amount of skin contact during both fermentation and élevage. Once the wines are in barrel, they are basically left alone from that point until they are bottled. The wines ferment and age in the same barrels without racking and bâtonnage, as Marcel is wary of making the wines too fat and leesy. His approach is the definition of natural, employing the lowest intervention winemaking imaginable: the wine is put into barrel and left there until right before the following harvest, following the rhythm of the seasons. His wines offer incredible delicacy with aromatic purity and complexity as a result. Only the necessary amount of sulfur dioxide is added.
- Mâcon-Loché “Les Longues Terres”
- Saint-Véran “La Cour des Bois”