Camille Mélinand comes from a family of winegrowers in Fleurie, the center of the northernmost section of Beaujolais…
He is a young, cult producer handcrafting small amounts of ultra-elegant and delicious Cru Beaujolais from estate vineyards utilizing natural farming and production methods. Presently, Camille farms two vineyards he owns in Fleurie and Chiroubles, vinifying the wines in traditional large foudres at his family’s cellar in Fleurie, Domaine de Marrans, where he works with his brother Mathieu to make the domaine wine. Growing up during the Beaujolais crisis, Camille wanted to do anything but make wine, so he pursued other interests, working in Lyon. Gradually, as he returned home to the family winery every weekend, life in the vines began to call to him, and in 2015/2016, he decided to come back to Beaujolais.
Even though he had grown up in the vineyards and knew the Beaujolais terroir very well, he needed to gain more winemaking experience. Camille trained in Beaune for a year, followed by an apprenticeship at Domaine Sérol in Côte Roannaise. There, he learned how to work with biodynamics in the vineyard at a domaine with a similar philosophy to his. After that, he went to work in the US for a little bit in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. 2019 was his first vintage vinifying his own wines under the Camille Mélinand label.
In Chiroubles, he farms the highest Cru in Beaujolais at 400m, a 1ha lieu-dit called Tempéré, which is located on a very steep south-facing slope of 35% grade. To work the soil, he has to utilize cables and winches for plowing. It is painful, manual work, but Camille feels the results in the vineyard are worth the massive effort. The vineyard is planted to 50-year-old, gobelet-trained gamay vines in pink granite.
Camille also has 1.5ha of 60-year-old gamay vines in Fleurie in the La Chapelle des Bois lieu-dit, planted on shallow, stony, pink granite soils. The pink granite found in his Fleurie vineyard is a little more decomposed than in Chiroubles. In this vineyard, which is planted at 300m, he is gradually training his vines up to cordon, where they can benefit from natural ventilation to combat disease.
Camille works organically and does not use any chemicals in the vineyard or winery. Whole clusters are harvested by hand in small boxes, and in the cellar, he does a traditional 15-day carbonic maceration, followed by alcoholic fermentation with native yeasts and without added sulfur. Aging is in old, large traditional foudres for 12 months, and wines are bottled without fining, filtering, or manipulation of any kind. Average yields in his vineyards are around 40 hl/ha.
The artistic, interpretive labels are done by a friend and local artist in Romanèche-Thorins named Delphine Chauvin. Camille wanted a striking label that would inspire people with different opinions. He feels that art, like wine, is quite subjective and wants his wines and labels to actively engage the drinker and inspire conversation. There are several small things hidden in the labels for the drinker to discover.
We are at the beginning of this new story with Camille Mélinand, a joyous, artistic project in the heart of Beaujolais that does not take itself too seriously. His project has a bright future ahead, as the wines are fun, precise, and delicious.