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Philippe & Catherine Jambon

It’s hard to avoid getting around a cult-figure like Philippe Jambon when talking about natural wine in Beaujolais. Since 1997 Philippe and his wife Catherine have been cultivating 3,5 hectares of micro-vineyards scattered around Chasselas, a small village situated in the boarder-line divide between Beaujolais and Burgundy. Being born and raised in Beaujolais, Philippe has witnessed at first hand how the region had been struggling to get rid of its bad reputation as a wine growing region associated with overproduction cheap Gamay.

After graduating as an oenologist where he had learned about “everything that had to be done” to make exactly that, he instead decided to go his own ways and farm his newly acquired plots of land in the most gentle way as possible without the use of chemicals and with very low yields. Only in this way, he thought, he would be able to make wines that could bring forth the unique qualities of the terroir in the northern Beaujolais and reclaim the region’s name.

For more than two decades now, Philippe has been making wines that fall completely out of category and with every new wine that’s released from his cellar (something that happens very rarely) he keeps astonishing his growing audience across the world of natural wine.

Right from the beginning of his career he has been an ardent advocate of “pur jus” wines made without any additives or sulphur. However, Philippe does by no means make easy-drinking carbonically macerated Gamays and anonymous and pleasing Chardonnays. Quite the opposite. In his cellar work he makes use of long macerations and extremely long aging in barriques and tonneaux (for both whites and reds), an approach that’s truly visionary and makes the most beautiful and complex wines.

But the story about Philippe Jambon doesn’t end here. Being a highly sociable man who likes to share a bottle or two with his vigneron friends, a couple of years back he started releasing what he likes to call “les vins des copains”. With this négoce project Philippe helps other likeminded natural winemakers in the region to promote their wines by selling it under the his brand, a brand that he with a self-deprecating sense of humor chose to call “Une Tranche”, meaning “a slice of this or that”, and put a drawing of a jolly pig on the label. 

The idea of the négoce project is to share knowledge and experience about natural wine making between likeminded individuals who share the same values as Philippe and Catherine and to help small scale artisan winemakers sell their wines outside of the region. By giving them acces to foreign markets they’re no longer forced to sell a part of their production to négociants or cooperatives in order to make ends meet. 

On the other hand, the négoce project enables Philippe, whose vineyards were devastated by hailstorms in two consecutive years which resulted in the loss of the majority of the harvests, to release simple, generous and affordable wines that stay true to the spirit of “pur jus” and do so at a more frequent rate.

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