For those like us who seek out rigorously natural wines, Jean-Marc Brignot’s wines have become highly sought after unicorns. He’s kind of an extreme example of the type of maker we specialize in, eschewing modern techniques in every part of the winemaking process—from utilizing biodynamically-farmed fruit to using a hand-cranked press to crush his grapes.
In 2013, Jean-Marc left his home in Arbois and moved to Sado, a remote Japanese island twenty-some-odd miles off Japan’s west coast, with his Japanese wife Satomi (although she’s not from Sado). The island is primarily known for two things: its massive gold mine and its former penal colony, which it was for nearly 1,000 years. Now it’s a place associated with dissent and free thinking. In fact it has more Noh theaters than anywhere else in Japan (about one third of the country’s Noh theaters are located in Sado).
It’s very hard to understand why a winemaker would abandon his home in the Jura to settle in a country with almost no winemaking tradition – although there’s a burgeoning one plus an intense interest in natural wines in Japan. Yet Jean-Marc dreams of making wine here. In the meantime, while it lasts, we’re lucky enough to have a little of the wine he’s making in France with Anders Frederik Steen.
Jean-Marc’s co-conspirator, Anders Frederik Steen, worked in the restaurant and wine cellar at Noma. While at Noma he got his sommelier education in London. Currently he makes wine and is the sommelier at Atelier September and Foxy Foxy Nature Wildlife.
Anders is a true supporter and lover of natural wines, of wines that have a certain wildness that directly express their close proximity to nature – terroir – of wines where nothing’s been added and nothing’s been taken away, of wines that are incredibly honest, pure and alive – like nature itself.