Laurent Ponsot leaves family domaine

In a surprise move, Burgundian winemaker Laurent Ponsot has left his family domaine, to set up his own négoce business.

The Morey-St-Denis-based domaine confirmed to the drinks business this morning (10 March) that Ponsot (pictured) had left but had no further details at this time.

However, Ponsot had already spoken to Wine Spectator in an interview where he revealed he was setting up his own négociant business in St-Nicolas-les-Cîteaux (although a wine business under the name of Laurent Ponsot is registered in Gilly-les-Cîteaux, which is closer to Vougeot. Update: Ponsot’s new business will indeed be based in Gilly not St Nicholas) in partnership with his son, Clément.

Also without revealing any further reasons behind his departure, Ponsot told the US magazine he would be producing seven reds and nine whites from his new business including red grands crus Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin and Clos St-Denis and premier cru Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes, as well as grands crus whites from Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne and Meursault premiers crus Genevrières, Charmes, Perrières and Blagny.

This would still leave the domaine with two premiers crus from Morey-St-Denis (the white Clos des Monts and red ‘Cuvée des Alouettes’) as well as the extremely prestigious grands crus of Clos de la Roche, Clos de Bèze, Clos de Vougeot, Chapelle Chambertin and (red) Corton.

Ponsot said the wines would come from both his own vines and “joint ventures with my friends”, which could mean he is stripping the domaine of its contracts with various grands and premiers crus.

Wine writer Bill Nanson has asked whether Ponsot’s sisters and co-owners, Rose-Marie, Catherine and Stéphanie Ponsot might not mount a legal challenge to such a move considering how “integral to the domaine [those sites have been] since 1982.”

The other question to consider, of course, is what might now happen to the domaine itself. With Laurent gone – though still with a 25% stake in the business – will the estate remain in family hands or be put up for sale?

Now aged 60 there was some expectation that Laurent might step back a little and that his son, Clément, would take over as winemaker but if Clément is joining his father at the new business then clearly these theories were mistaken.

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