Beaune, Burgundy, France
A quest for pure, handcrafted indulgence
Andrew and Emma Nielsen started Le Grappin in 2011 after Andrew’s journey of discovery (enlightenment even!) working with some of the world’s most iconic winemakers. Their micro-négociant model has since become an example of entrepreneurial commitment and their wines sought-after for their purity and drinkability.
Location: Beaune, Burgundy, France
Interesting fact: When out and about with Andrew in Beaune you might hear someone calling out for ‘Obelix’ – that’s his nickname and one that accurately reflects both his constitution and good spirits!
Le Grappin Wines
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Andrew Nielsen, born in Australia and full of bonhomie, worked in publishing and advertising when a bottle of Dujac Clos de La Roche made him realise that his life’s meaning was to be found elsewhere.
He embarked on a journey of discovery and apprenticeship, gaining experience with iconic wine producers around the world. His first stop was Kosta Browne, Californian Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialists. Stints at Felton Road (Central Otago, New Zealand) and Coldstream Hills (Yarra Valley, Australia) followed. It was in Australia that, through James Halliday, Andrew connected with Patrick Bize who he then worked with at Simon Bize in Savigny les Beaune, Burgundy.
This ended up being the crucial turning point that ultimately lead to the inception of Le Grappin.
It was while working at Simon Bize that he came up with the idea of producing small single-parcel Savigny’s. The economics of this idea didn’t quite work for Bize and Nielsen therefore decided to start his own project, with the aim of identifying over-looked plots and working with growers to reveal their full potential.
The idea of mapping each micro-terroir and telling the stories behind each of them is the basis of Andrew’s jeweller work. A fermentation geek (a trait he might have developed while worked at London’s iconic cheese monger Neal’s Yard Dairy) he relies exclusively on ambient yeast to ferment his wines, all of which are bottled unfined and unfiltered. This work of natural precision is reflected in the labels, designed by Brooklyn-based artist Louise Despont, which reflect the same intricate beauty.
Andrew and Emma split their time between London and Beaune, where Emma still has her banking day job. Their wines are made at Fanny Sabre’s old winery (yet another iconic Burgundy name), and Nielsen bottles and labels them by hand. His wines first gained recognition through his network of passionate (and equally fermentation-obsessed) friends, namely Evin O’Riordain, of The Kernel Brewery, whom he met at Nel’s Yard. Now they can be found across London, from farmer’s markets to Michelin-starred restaurants!
In addition to Le Grappin wines, Andrew and Emma have developed the Du Grappin range; vins de soif, from fruit sourced in the Mâconnais, Beaujolais and Rhône, designed to be playful, dangerously drinkable and appealingly affordable. They’ve championed the bag-in-box format for this range, both for its convenience and lower environmental impact.