Cellar manager and oenologist for the house of Joseph Mellot since 2016
Nothing predestined Norbert Buchonnet to become the accomplished oenologist he is today.
Born in Aubagne in 1956, he left the school system at the age of 16, with his BEPC as his only diploma, with no specific plans. In autumn of 1977, he followed a few friends to Beaujolais for the harvest. This seasonal work proved to be a real discovery and opened the door for beautiful encounters. Curious about everything related to the vine and the soil, he returned to the school benches to obtain a BPA (brevet professionnel agricole) and then a BTA (brevet technique agricole).
Sauvignon, the subject of his dissertation
This did not quench his thirst for a better understanding and knowledge of the vine and wine. After a stay in Finland, he returned to France and obtained a BTS diploma in Blanquefort. He then had the choice between becoming an engineer or an oenologist. He was accepted into several oenology degrees, and chose Bordeaux, it was 1992. Two years later, he finished in the top 5 of his generation, and received the prize: prix de l’association des oenologues de Bordeaux, for his work in valorizing press wine from Sauvignon.
Norbert then had the great opportunity to do his internship alongside Denis Dubourdieu, whose laboratory had just discovered the molecule marker for Sauvignon: an exhilarating experience full of teachings.
But becoming an oenologist at the age of 38 requires training through field experience. It is abroad that he gets his first interesting jobs, in Thailand, China and Morocco… After a quick return to France, he left for the south of Portugal, in a renowned family estate where he stayed for 6 years. A striking milestone in his career, where he discovers other approaches for wines.
When he returns to France, he feels ready to take on a major challenge, and dreams of integrating a house where the word terroir is an identity. In 2016, he joined the house of Joseph Mellot, where Catherine Corbeau-Mellot was looking for a seasoned cellar manager who would be ready, when the time came, to hand over the keys of the cellar to her two sons, Adrien and Armand Mellot, currently still students.
He arrived in Sancerre, a prominent landmark of the Centre-Loire wine region, recognized all over the world for its varied terroirs that reveal the most sublime expression of Sauvignon. Through the harvest and winemaking, every day he still learns different facets of this star grape of Centre-Loire. He has become attached to this welcoming and authentic region, distant from modish and experimental viticultural practices, where tradition remains the course of action of today’s winemakers.
6 questions to Norbert Buchonnet, cellar manager at Joseph Mellot
Your first memory related to the vine?
My first harvest, in Beaujolais, at the end of the 70s. A real turning point for my professional career path.
What is your greatest tasting memory?
I have an intact memory of a Château Haut-Marbuzet, a Saint-Estèphe that provoked a very distinct sentiment in me and marked my memory for life.
I also love our Vignes du Rocher, which express the purity of Sauvignon from the flint terroirs of Sancerre.
Your favourite wine pairing?
When it is the season, I take pleasure in lightly cooked scallops, buttered or garnished with a yuzu sauce, accompanied by our white Sancerre La Châtellenie.
Your favourite scenery of the vineyards and the Loire?
I never tire of the different views of the Sancerre hill from the vineyards. At the top of Amigny, or at the top of the Palots, the gaze is dominated by the rocky peak and lets the majestic Loire meander…
Your favourite season?
I like the winter fogs, from where fires of vine branches rise here or there, I am always moved by the rows of vines that grow during the spring… but I have an unmovable affection for the autumn lights, phenomenal.
Your daily eco-responsible gesture?
Long before this became the rule, I sort out waste and always think recycling. Reuse what you can. It is automatic now.