Maison En Belles Lies

VigneronPierre Fenals
LocationSaint Aubin (Côte d'Or)
Size of Domaine7 ha
TerroirContinental climate. Clay-limestone marls, alluvial sediments on mid-Jurassic (Callovian and Oxfordian) limestone bedrock. 230-280m altitude.
ViticulturePracticing biodynamic
View Maison En Belles Lies wines ↓

Changing career is quite common nowadays, doing it at the age of 51, as did Pierre Fenals, a bit less so. After a degree in molecular biology, Pierre had a successful career heading marketing departments of Parisian fashion houses, but as time went by, he became tired of the industry and felt a need for change. He left his job in 2001 and, since wine had been a lifelong passion of his, settled down in Burgundy to become a vigneron!

While studying viticulture and oenology in Beaune and Dijon, he staged with some of his favourite winemakers: Jean-Louis Trapet in Gevrey-Chambertin and Marcel Lapierre in Morgon. He even worked at a few cooperatives because he wanted to understand all facets of the industry and region. But it was the four years he spent with Emmanuel Giboulot that taught him the most. He quickly gained Emmanuel's trust, becoming his right-hand man, and was given the freedom to express himself both in the vineyard and cellar, an invaluable experience in Pierre's eyes. In 2009 he created Maison En Belles Lies (named after a practice developed by 17th-century monks who would dry their barrels and rub them with the lees of the previous vintage before filling them up with fresh juice) setting up shop in a chilly warehouse just outside St Aubin.

Pierre Fenals

He now farms 7ha, half of which he owns while the other half is rented, spread over ten appellations across the Côte de Beaune. Having spent so many years living in the polluted air of big cities, going back to nature and connecting with it was a big draw for Pierre, and working biodynamically was imperative to him. He had become fascinated by the subject after picking up a book on Rudolf Steiner (The Agricultural Course) at the flea market of Montreuil. From the start he followed its guiding principles, most of the herbs and plants used in the preparations are harvested in the vicinity of the vineyards, while some others such as arnica, wormwood and yarrow are picked and dried in the Alps where Pierre has a cabin. Weather permitting, most of the vineyard and cellar work is paced by lunar cycles. The reds, for instance, are harvested when the moon is rising and their cuvaison last a full lunar cycle of 29-30 days.

“My wish is that my wines, white and red, still smell of grapes, impregnated with their fresh scent after 14, 18, 20 months élevage”

He is one of the few Burgundian growers we know that is equally good at vinifying both red and white wines. All of his vines are aged 50 years plus (most of them originate from massal selections) therefore naturally low-yielding. Pierre gives his wines one-year élevage, with an additional six months if deemed necessary, and favours 500ltr 7-10yo barrels. In the cellar he tries to be as gentle as possible with slow fermentation, there is no lees stirring for the whites and only 1.5g/hl sulphur added if necessary. The reds carry out whole bunch fermentation, there are no active extractions (more of an infusion), no racking and therefore no sulphur added (play on reduction). He bottles his wines under excellent quality fire branded corks, as he believes that ink stamped corks influence on the flavour of wines.

“My wish is that my wines, white and red, still smell of grapes, impregnated with their fresh scent after 14, 18, 20 months élevage” he explains, and that’s a quality that can be found across the whole range. Pierre’s wines are imbued with the character of the terroirs they are from, they are incredibly digeste with a crystalline quality that makes you reach for another sip, time and time again.

Sandstone amphora
Amphore en terre cuite (terracotta)

Maison En Belles Lies Wines

Maison En Belles Lies

100% Aligoté (12% alc.)

The 50yo vines are planted along the road from la Rochepot to Saint-Aubin, at a place called Les Genouvrées au Sud. At 320m altitude the soil is white, medium depth and difficult to plough and has a lot of stones and fossils. Aged for 14 months in 70% in stainless steel and 30% older 500ltr barrels. It is racked for clarification in the spring and not touched until bottling when it is neither fined nor filtered with an addition of just 15 mg/l of sulphur. It feels very close to the grape on the aromatics and is silky, ripe, elegant and saline.

Maison En Belles Lies

100% Chardonnay (12% alc.)

Pierre made this wine from a 0.40ha parcel of 50yo vines high up a south-east facing slope in a very stony limestone-clay soil which is difficult to plough and weathers out many fossils. Only 1% of Monthélie vineyards are planted with chardonnay, invariably at the top of hillsides. Aged for 14 months in 4yo 350ltr barrels, this wine coats the palate, it’s elegant with a floral touch, and the finish is very clear and precise.

Maison En Belles Lies

100% Chardonnay (12.5% alc.)

This comes from quite a flat vineyard at a place called les Saunières, where the soils are very red and made up of grey marls. The vineyard is 0.37ha and planted 40 years ago. The soil here lends a pronounced irony quality to the wine, which is quite tight in its youth and slower to unwind than the other whites. Aged in old 350ltr barrels for 14 months with 15 mg/l of sulphur added at bottling.

Maison En Belles Lies

100% Chardonnay (12.5% alc.)

Pierre produces just two barrels from gnarled 85yo vines giving a tiny yield, from the fine lieu-dit of le Charlemagne, the true heartland of this legendary appellation, on a south-west facing slope in white coloured marl with small chalky stones overlying a hard limestone base. The fermentation ticks along slowly here in just two fûts from 2010 and 2014. Pierre has always found that the wine benefits from a longer élevage of 18 months before bottling with a very low dose of 1.5g/l of sulphur. One of the finest white burgundies that I’ve tasted, it’s a wine of style and race, with density and yet finesse with a limpid quality, a marked salinity and just so much class. Available November 2019.

Maison En Belles Lies

100% Pinot Noir (11.5% alc.)

This wine comes from a 0.55ha holding of 50yo vines planted in a lieu-dit called Les Chataigniers at 310m altitude above the village of Saint Aubin – the soil here is of a medium depth and easy to plough. The yield averages a low 40hh, and the grapes are partly destemmed. Only the free run juice is used – no press juice is added. Aged in old 350ltr barrels, with no sulphur used at any stage. A very pale colour, this wine has a juicy, elegant freshness, with sustained red fruits typical of pinot noir. Makes for a perfect accompaniment to a good roast chicken.

Maison En Belles Lies

100% Pinot Noir (12.5% alc.)

The 60-65yo vines here are planted in quite a deep soil towards the bottom of the hill in the lieu-dit of les Caillettes. The soil here is very red with no stones at all and is very easy to work, similar to good quality garden soil. Vinified from 100% whole bunches and very delicately extracted, then aged in 7-10yo 500ltr barrels, and neither fined nor filtered, it’s a wine with a delicate colour, with an excellent core of vibrant red fruits, elegance and harmony. No sulphur used at any stage.

Maison En Belles Lies

Les Clos Roussots
100% Pinot Noir (12% alc.)

The 0.49ha of vines here are over 60yo planted in a mix of clay and chalky marls. Made from whole bunches and aged in 3-7yo barrels, this wine has a lot of class, perfumed and racy on the nose, it is supple and perfectly pitched, with delectable black fruits and a saline freshness. No sulphur used at any stage.

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