A native of Beaune, Maxime Crotet was immersed in food and wine culture at a young age. His grandfather, Jean Crotet, owned the famed, Michelin-starred Hostellerie de Levernois, just outside of town. He took an early interest in winemaking and had the good fortune of starting his career with Natural Wine legend Frederic Cossard at Domaine de Chassorney in Saint Romain where he started as a “cellar rat” and worked his way up to be Cossard’s right-hand man in the cellars. During this time, Maxime became convinced of the merits of natural viticulture and winemaking and after 8 years working alongside Cossard, launched his own natural wine project in 2021 in his home village of Beaune.
With no vineyards of his own, Maxime envisioned a negotiant project that would allow him to work with like-minded farmers and Burgundian terroirs that excited him. However, the now-infamous climactic conditions of 2021 made it nearly impossible to find fruit in Burgundy. Maxime was forced to adapt and was grateful to have contacts through his experience at Cossard (who also had developed a little petit negoce activity outside Burgundy) in other regions including Beaujolais, Alsace, the Jura and Vaucluse in the Southern Rhone Valley. He succeeded in sourcing Gamay, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Carignan, all of which he harvested himself and vinified in his cellar in Beaune. This diverse range of wild and vibrant wines set Maxime on a path that looked different than the one he had envisioned, but nonetheless, helped to establish an identity for his burgeoning project.
Building on the successes of his inaugural vintage which sold out quickly, Maxime further invested in the Jura in 2022 with the purchase of Chardonnay, Poulsard, Trousseau, and Savagnin grapes. Additionally, he sourced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy and a bit of Alsatian Pinot Noir, Gewurtz and Riesling to keep his fans on their toes!
Like his mentor, Crotet seeks to vinify as naturally as possible, without any additives, unless absolutely necessary. That means no added yeast, enzymes or SO2 during the élévage. The wines are fermented in small tanks, and then transferred to small, mostly neutral barrels for 8-10 months depending on the wine. The reds are all fermented without de-stemming, with a little carbonic influence to accentuate the fruit. At bottling, there is a tiny addition of Sulphur to help keep the mouse away as the wines travel far and wide, but well within (or below) the range of his Natural Wine brethren.
The result are beautifully pure, and even joyous wines that are fun to drink, and where terroir trumps technique, an issue that can sometimes befall some Natural Wines. As for future plans, like his good friend, Antoine Lienhardt (who introduced us to Maxime), he hopes to slowly expand his footprint in his native Burgundy with additional micro-cuvées from interesting, organically-farmed sites throughout the region.
In all, thanks to the energy, drive and creativity of young winegrowers like Maxime Crotet, Natural Wine is no longer simply a movement, but an established cast of thriving characters and lively wines. And yes…he’s quite a character! We are excited to get in on the ground floor.