Talking Grape Varietals with Domaine Ferret’s Audrey Braccini

4/13/2018

This story is part of our “Women in Wine” series — an ongoing effort to highlight the women shaping today’s evolving global wine industry. From winemakers to sustainability specialists to executives, these are the women among the vines to watch in 2018.

Audrey Braccini’s passion for wine started before she could even taste it.

She remembers her father as a Burgundy wines lover who built his own cellar, took great care of his bottles and shared them with friends. As a child, Braccini spent hours quietly listening to her father and his friends talk as they gathered around bottles.

“They spoke about what they liked about the wines for hours; always with passion, tenderness, respect,” said Braccini. “I remember thinking then that there must be some magic happening.”

That magic is what inspired Braccini to take her interest in wine and develop it into something more as she grew older.
 In 2004, she spent a weekend in Fleurie, in the Beaujolais region in France, and met a vigneron (a person who cultivates grapes for wine) who helped her explore the landscape and discover the flavors of the wines in the area. Her few days in Fleurie motivated her to apply for an internship in the Beaujolais area. Despite having “no connection and no help in the industry,” Braccini was chosen by the technical director of the wine cooperative. 

“I think a lucky star was protecting me and directing me to the right people,” she said. 

From a childhood curiosity to that chance encounter, Braccini’s love has evolved into a full-time career. Today, she serves as Domaine Ferret’s resident winemaker, another successor in a chain of female directors that has remained steady since 1840.

This fall, Braccini will celebrate her 10th harvest in the Mâconnais region, where the Chardonnay and Pouilly-Fuissé appellations are cultivated.

We took a moment to chat with Braccini on winemaking, Mâconnais varietals and her role as director at Domaine Ferret.

In your role as Winemaker, what kind of responsibilities do you take on?

First and foremost, my role starts with the way we manage the vineyard to get the grapes ready for harvest. Then, I oversee each step in the planning and logistics pre-, during and post- harvest.

For example, some of the responsibilities I need to cover are: organizing the right team of harvesters, overseeing the pre-fermentation steps – including questions such as “Do I have to cut? Do I have to stop? How will we press the grapes?”
 
I also need to plan the type of barrels we will be using and the origin of the trees for the barrels, which blends I am thinking of doing, the timing of the bottling and when it will be possible to sell the wines after the bottling.

What about the Domaine Ferret estate and Mâconnais region make for a good wine?

The proven reputation of Mâconnais area and especially Pouilly-Fuissé appellation date back more than 150 years. The famous doctor Jules Guyot in 1866 spoke about the remarkable white vines from Chardenet, on the limestone and that it was possible to say the same things about some places in côte chalonnaise or Meursault. 

So the place has been well known to make great wines. Since the beginning of the 40’s and thanks to Jeanne Ferret—Domaine Ferret’s founder—the same care and attention has been going towards our vineyards and wines. Mrs. Ferret vinified all her wines with the same care as the great producers of the North of the Burgundy, and since then, the tradition has continued.

What is it about the Chardonnay and Pouilly-Fuissé grapes that draw you?

When I arrived in Fuissé, I read a book by Oz Clarke and I have kept a sentence in my mind. 

The English translation would be: “There is a lack of acidity in the grapes of Mâconnais producers, so they are picked a few days earlier to keep the acidity that may disappear. Have you ever asked yourself why the white wines from Mâconnais are so dull? The Mâconnais area is really a place where they have to change viticulture and vinification.”

I really try to do my wines from Fuissé in a way no one could ever make a comment like that about our Chardonnays from the south of Burgundy.

Domaine Ferret has a long history of female directors. What’s it like continuing that tradition?

It is such a huge honor! I work hard to live up especially to Jeanne Ferret, and not only for the Domaine, but also for the appellation. It is very important for me that Jeanne Ferret could be proud of me, mainly because she was talented, intuitive, and a fighter, not just because she was a woman.

This interview was condensed and edited for space and clarity.

 
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