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 with whom he would then work with at Simon Bize in Savigny les Beaune, Burgundy.
This ended up being the crucial turning point that ultimately led 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 Savignys. The economics of this idea, however, 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.
Mapping each micro-terroir and telling the stories behind them is the basis of Andrew’s jeweller work. A fermentation geek (a trait he might have developed while working at London’s iconic cheesemonger 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 and based on the same intricate beauty.
When they first started Le Grappin, Andrew and Emma split their time between London and Beaune, where Emma still had her banking dayjob. But the couple has since moved permanently to Burgundy and both work full time on their venture.
Their wines are made at Fanny Sabre’s old winery (yet another iconic Burgundy name), and Nielsen bottles and labels them by hand. The wines first gained international recognition through Andrew & Emma’s network of passionate (and equally fermentation-obsessed) friends, namely Evin O’Riordain, of The Kernel Brewery, whom Andrew worked with at Neal’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, produced with fruit sourced in the Mâconnais, Beaujolais and Rhône, designed to be playful, dangerously drinkable and appealingly affordable. They’ve championed the bagnum format for this range, both for its convenience and lower environmental impact.