Camille and Mathieu Apffel have entered a new chapter of their lives, and it’s a chapter we’re very excited about. Since 2018, they have been tending their own vines in the Savoie, making their own wines, and selling their own wines. It is the full-circle project they had craved, and they are now living the dream.
Their wines are all about purity; gentle, subtle and nuanced wines that speak of their mountainous slopes and native varieties. Through a love for nature, they are achieving healthier and healthier grapes each year, which in turn enables them to achieve their goal of making wines without additions — pure grape juice, but with more soul.
LITTLEWINE spoke to Mathieu Apffel for this article.
People: Camille and Mathieu Apffel; Camille joined Mathieu at the domaine in 2020
Place: Savoie, France — vineyards are in Apremont, on Mont Granier, facing east, and in Saint-Alban, near to the vineyards of Chignin. They also have a parcel of St-Jean de la Porte
Varieties: Jacquère, Altesse, Mondeuse and Pinot Noir. They will also plant Persan, Étraire de la Dui and Hibou Noir (also known as Avanà in Piemonte)
Farming: Organic with biodynamic methods
Did You Know? Mathieu is originally from the Jura, although not from a winemaking family. He says, "When it comes to wine, I think of the region and its terroirs a bit like the cousins of the Jura. And there was space and opportunities here, so in 2013-2014 I made the move.”
Since inception, they have been working their land adhering to both organics and biodynamics.
“It was evident to me that I wanted to work organically, and I also have my own approach to biodynamics. For me, biodynamics is about disconnecting from day-to-day life, and instead focusing on the earth, and using your senses. It’s about trying to integrate ourselves into the environment and ecosystem, and using our observation more.”
“You learn to cultivate energy — energy in the vineyard, the environment... the grapes. It’s about seeing people in relation to plants, to the ecosystem, to the fauna, and to spread this energy.”
They create ferments, extracts, compost, and use the biodynamic preparations 500 and 501. However, it isn’t about following a certain recipe. Mathieu explains,
“I must admit that we are very experimental. We like to try things, and then observe how they work. Personally, I’m not by the book when it comes to Steiner’s methods. I like the idea and the basis of the philosophy, but for me it’s mainly about your personal point of view. This is about seeing the long-term, and to do so, it’s crucial to experiment and try different methods. So, we use the plants described in the initial biodynamic teachings — like valerian and horsetail — but we are also carrying out experiments with other plants, and comparing our findings and ideas with other winemakers. It’s about sharing, observing and experimenting, rather than doing things according to certain rules.”