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Christian Chaussard dies

I recently reported for news on the tragic death of winemaker Christian Chaussard. I didn’t know Christian personally, although I’m slightly regretting not getting the chance to speak with him in my three days at the Real Wine Fair. But I did know his wines. In fact his ‘Patapon’ was one of the first natural wines I ever tried (before I’d learned what a ‘natural’ wine philosophy even meant). The label was colourful and fun and suggested the liquid inside would be the same. It encompassed everything I’ve come love about natural wines. It was indeed fun. There was a purity and a sense of life to it that made me want to jump for joy…or at least drink another glass immediately. It was made from Pineau d’Aunis, an almost extinct native Loire grape that Christian devoted much time to resurrecting, and thank goodness he did because my god it’s a lovely variety when in the right hands.

Christian leaves behind his partner and co-conspirator Nathalie. I can’t begin to imagine what she’s going through right now, but I do hope in the future that she is able to carry on Christian’s legacy and to continue making wonderful wines at Domaine Le Briseau. RIP Christian. The wine world has lost a great talent.

*In commemoration, Terroirs wine bar and restaurant in London will put four of Christian’s wines on by the glass, so it’s a great opportunity to try them if you haven’t before.

Here is the report I wrote for to give you more info:

Christian Chaussard, one of the Loire Valley’s most prominent ‘natural’ winemakers, has died in a tractor accident.

It is also understood that he had been battling with advanced stage cancer for several years.

Christian Chaussard was the owner and winemaker at Domaine Le Briseau, which he co-founded with his partner Nathalie Gaubichet in 2002. They later created the small négoce Nana, Vins & Cie.

The domaine, located in the Coteaux du Loir, is known for biodynamically grown, sulphur-free wines made from Chenin Blanc and in particular the almost forgotten native grape, Pineau d’Aunis.

The wines feature colourful and eccentric names and labels like the clown-adorned Patapon, and a range of wines called You are so Bubbly, You are so Beautiful, and You are so Nice.

Chaussard was the president of the La Mission de l’Association des Vins Naturels. Throughout the 1990s he taught oenology and viticulture at theLycée Viticole in Amboise while also making wine in Vouvray.

‘He made transformative wines’, US author and natural wine advocate Alice Feiring told

‘When I first met him I found him intimidating, but I grew to see him as a warm, highly thoughtful person. In the last few years, especially when I last saw him at The Real Wine Fair [in London this spring], I appreciated how he heroically showed up for life, and how that aspect of his personality always managed to put joy in the bottle’.

Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, Chaussard’s importer and distributor in the UK, said, ‘We were privileged with work with Christian Chaussard.

‘He was a passionate and determined vigneron yet with great generosity of spirit. He commanded the warm respect of his fellow growers in the Loire and beyond and many other wine professionals. For us the wines were the man – highly individual, captivating and uncompromising. We will miss him and our thoughts are with his partner, Nathalie Gaubichet’.

[Image: Jim Budd]

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