The low-profile yet highly influential Éric Boissenot inducted as a ‘Commandeur du Bontemps’

Wednesday June 27 2018 by Vitisphere

 “To protect the terroir you need to listen to it”, claims Éric Boissenot, who was honoured by the Commanderie du Bontemps in more intimate surroundings than the Fête de la Fleur. “To protect the terroir you need to listen to it”, claims Éric Boissenot, who was honoured by the Commanderie du Bontemps in more intimate surroundings than the Fête de la Fleur. - Photo credit : Château Montrose

How many winemakers bang on in the media about taking a back seat to the vineyards where they proffer advice, and yet often provide endorsements on back labels? One winemaker has not succumbed to the trumpets of fame and that is Éric Boissenot, manager of the eponymous wine laboratory. The extremely low-profile doctor of oenology is a rarely seen personality, despite being consultant to 150 properties worldwide (including 40 classified growths in the Médoc). Breaking with his habits, Éric Boissenot momentarily accepted to be thrust into the limelight when he was inducted into the Commanderie du Bontemps du Médoc on June 20 at Saint-Estèphe 1855 Grand Cru Classé Château Montrose.

His success is due to his self-effacing logic which, he acknowledges, is as much about his family as it is about his roots in the Médoc. “We consider that we are serving the interests of the growths. We are just one of many links in the chain. This is also due to the Médoc, which shows greater resistance to fashion trends. There's inertia here”, he says, emphasising that holding on to the status quo is a strength: "Otherwise, it means that the terroir that guides us is changing, and is not resilient. You have to listen to it so that it can express itself well and we can be proud of it”.

Less a dogma than a philosophy, this sensitive approach prevents Eric Boissenot from having a uniform style, or a standard answer. “First, you have to understand the wines and give them space. You mustn’t overdo it, but rather make the wines gently and not over-extract. Things then come to light naturally. We listen first and foremost to the terroir, otherwise we would intervene too much and by trying to emphasise certain traits we would lose what we are looking for” says Éric Boissenot.

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