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When Nicole Chanrion began her career in the 1970s, convention relegated women to the enology
labs and kept them out of the cellars—even her mother thought winemaking was man’s work—but
she would not be deterred from her dream of becoming a vigneronne. With six generations of familytradition preceding her, she grew up helping her father in both the vineyards and the cellar in the Côte-de-Brouilly, one of the southernmost crus of the northern Beaujolais. Though she is mildmannered and slight of build, her determination and conviction have consistently defied all doubts. Ever since taking over the family domaine in 1988, she works all 6.5 hectares entirely by herself, from pruning the vineyards and driving the tractors to winemaking and bottling, all without bravado or fanfare. In 2000 she became president of the Côte-de-Brouilly appellation, a position of respect and importance among peers. It’s small wonder then that she is affectionately referred to as “La Patronne de la Côte,” or the Boss of la Côte.
The Côte-de-Brouilly appellation sits on the hillsides of Mont Brouilly, a prehistoric volcano that left
blue schist stones and volcanic rock along its slopes. These stones yield structured wines with
pronounced minerality and great aging potential. After her formal training at the viticultural school
in Beaune Nicole had a brief internship in the Napa Valley, where she learned another approach to
winemaking but, happily for us, gained a deeper appreciation of the traditional winemaking
techniques of the Beaujolais: hand harvesting, whole-cluster fermentation, aging the wines in large
oak foudres for at least nine months, and bottling unfiltered. The resulting wines are powerful, with
loads of pure fruit character and floral aromas.
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