Nicolas Badel

(nee-koh-lah bah-dehl) | Saint-Joseph – Rhône Valley

  • Classic, elegant northern Rhône
  • Exacting organic & biodynamic farming
  • Historic vineyards with biodiversity
  • Ethereal, perfumed syrah
  • Saint-Joseph of the future

Hailing from the northern Rhône and a family of local farmers,

Nicolas Badel trained as an engineer before deciding that winemaking was where his heart belonged. Nicolas returned to school and studied viticulture, spending many years working in the vineyards of other producers. In 1999, he acquired his vineyards in Saint-Joseph and Condrieu near the town of Limony and began by selling his wine to the local cooperative. It wasn’t until 2010 that he finally started bottling wine under his own name from his own eight hectares, which says a lot about Nicolas. He is not one to rush anything; instead, he is a steadfast perfectionist who prefers to take his time and do things the right way. 

Nicolas Badel’s farming has been certified organic since the very beginning and he is now in the process of carefully working biodynamics into his vineyards, with the intent of making the finest wines possible from his terroir. His labels feature a reproduction of the Roman coins from 75 BC that were found in the Intuition vineyard (along with other artifacts) during planting, evidence of the historic precedence of his vineyards.

The small winery is located near Vernosc-lès-Annonay, on the plateau above the Cance valley, a tributary of the Rhône. On a hillside called Les Grandes Vignes next to the winery, Nicolas has reclaimed 2.5 hectares of vines at 350m on sandy granitic soils with full southern exposure, from which he makes his wine called Intuition. The vineyard is planted mostly to syrah, but also some marsanne and viognier within a natural clos, which is secluded within a forest, untouched by other vineyards. Nicolas calls the naturally beautiful area very ‘sauvage’.The granite here is very sandy, which allows for excellent drainage and root penetration. This soil is relatively easy to work as well, all of which make it ideal for Syrah. Exposure is full south, protected from the cold northerly winds.

↓ Skip to Products

The Intuition vineyard is incredibly unique from the rest of the Rhône valley.

Instead of the industrial corridor of the river valley where most vines are planted, Intuition is set in a bucolic environment, surrounded by scrubby woodland, high above the river on a plateau. This setting is incredibly important when you are interested in biodiversity, as is Nicolas. This biodiversity allows for a natural equilibrium that limits the development of disease in the vineyard. He isn’t just following the rule book of organics in order to have the certification; instead, he is actually living the spirit of that philosophy. The Intuition vineyard is central to the person he is. It is also notable that he has no other employees, as he shoulders all of the work in the vineyards and winery solo, creating a direct line between himself and the terroir.

Nicolas likes to explain that his wine-making is non-formulaic: he adapts it to the unique conditions of each vintage. The essence of his philosophy is to make terroir and finesse-driven wines that are pure, precise, clean, and transparent. The wines are meant to be well-structured, yet also approachable and easy to drink. We tend to agree, as Nicolas’ wines are captivating upon release, yet will undoubtedly reward the patience of those who add a case to their cellars.

The newest plantings in his vineyards are all selection massale syrah from very old vineyards in Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He is using these to replace any dead or missing vines in his other vineyards.

In the Saint-Joseph appellation, Nicolas produces two single-vineyard wines. His Saint-Joseph from the Montrond vineyard (simply labeled as Saint-Joseph) is a fresh, full, vibrant expression of syrah grown near the village of Limony, in the northern part of the appellation at 300m elevation, overlooking the Rhône river. Situated on a small ridge, the soils of this vineyard are made up of partially decomposed granite. The site is exposed to both north and south winds, the excellent ventilation lending to organic viticulture. Syrah vines here are between 15-25 years old. These factors combine to create a very fresh, fruit-forward expression of Saint-Joseph with all of the signature peppery-dark fruit and drinkability one expects, with an unexpected extra refinement from his exceptional farming. This is not your average Saint-Joseph.

Badel Saint-Joseph “Les Mourrays” comes from a special parcel of 50-year-old syrah vines directly above the village of Limony, also on decomposed granitic soils. Though very close to Montrond (also on the plateau above Limony), the granite soil of this parcel is far more decomposed, where the old-vines have had time to break through the friable soil, digging much deeper. Though fairly flat, the site’s incline faces south, therefore offering protection from the cold northerly winds and excellent sun exposure for most of the day. All of these attributes make for a more structured wine with fine tannins and good age-ability. Les Mourrays always has brooding aromatics with peppery, black fruit, and a licorice note. The fruit is always cool, supple, and framed by great acidity. The wines are never heavy and can verge on the power of Cornas when tasted blind. Sometimes we are able to obtain a handful of cases from his 0.4 hectares Condrieu vineyard which, unsurprisingly, is light, mineral, and elegant, much like his red wines.

Nicolas Badel has earned his status in France as a highly respected, cult northern Rhône producer, whose wines are becoming harder to come by as more drinkers are exposed to the quality and relative value of his exacting wines. Without a doubt, these are the Saint-Joseph wines of the future and we are thrilled to be here for the ride.


De Maison Selections

101 Cosgrove Ave #220

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

+1 (919) 933-4245

De Maison East

160 Broadway, Room 706

New York, NY 10038

+1 (212) 500-0377

Txoko & Tasting Room

3540 W Wolfram St

Chicago, IL 60618