Meeting with Armand Heitz

Armand Heitz - Chassagne-Montrachet

Burgundy captivates all wine enthusiasts. Its complexity and multitude of terroirs require patience and a lifetime of learning. To truly grasp all the subtleties, you must first experience it within the vineyard. So since 2011, we have been visiting Burgundy and have made it a habit to organise a tasting with Bordeaux primeur wines with the Burgundian winemakers. It’s a moment of exchange, sharing, and also meeting new people. Over the years, we have developed strong bonds with these winemakers based on our shared passion for wine.We met Armand in 2011 at one of these tastings. He was very young at the time (we were too, actually!) and was just starting to take over the family estate Heitz-Lochardet in Chassagne-Montrachet. Today, he has successfully taken over the reins and manages his vineyards with plots that stir the taste buds just by mentioning them: Chevalier-Montrachet, Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, and even Juliénas. He is committed, dedicated, and hardworking. He is a wine producer, as well as a cattle and sheep farmer in Burgundy, with the guiding principle of terroir without filters.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

As a teenager, I wanted to be a sailing instructor. However, I chose oenology because taking over the family project was close to my heart. I went to the Lycée Viticole in Beaune, and then I obtained my oenology degree in Switzerland at Changins.

Could you introduce us to the family estate and its history?

The estate was established in 1850, originally as a wine trading activity. My ancestors sold some of the various properties until 1950 when my grandfather returned from the war. As an architect, he settled between Dijon and Chassagne-Montrachet and decided to lease out and sharecrop the vineyards. The following generation also kept the vineyards, hoping that a family member would eventually take over. My first vintage at the estate was in 2013, and today the estate is not yet complete. However, the essential vineyards are under our operation.


It all started at Changins when I visited a biodynamic winery. We were talking about horsetail, cow manure, copper dynamiser and I really felt something powerful in the vineyards. When I took over the estate, my luck was to have vines that had been worked according to biodynamic principles. But I didn’t feel really comfortable with it, especially in terms of commercialisation.

It was during the winter of 2018 that my wife and I discovered the principles of permaculture. It differed from what I had learned in viticulture and it was a turning point. I prefer to move towards these practices rather than being locked into an administrative and regulatory framework that comes with certification. Our soils do not need regulation, they need agronomic common sense!

Viticulture is a more difficult agricultural style than permaculture because it is a perennial agriculture. From spring 2019, we spread wood bark mulch (oak and ash) on the soils for mulching. This allowed us, for example, in 2019 to have soils that were still moist even after two weeks of drought. We select cover crops to sow in the vineyards to bring back biodiversity to the monoculture that is the vine. The goal is to bring diversity and to do co-planting.

When I took over the estate, my luck was to have vines that had been worked according to biodynamic principles. But I didn’t feel really comfortable with it, especially in terms of commercialisation.

Armand Heitz

What are the main challenges when you are a young winemaker starting out?

The administrative obstacles and bad advice quickly makes you disillusioned with the initial idea of just wanting to make great wines. I was lucky to be supported by my parents. Thank goodness! Otherwise, I think it would have discouraged me.

You have the chance to have inherited a plethora of dream terroirs. How do you approach this diversity?

That was one of my first questions when I arrived at the estate. I try to work in the most sustainable, simple and consistent way. The idea is to intervene as little as possible to let the fruit and the terroir express themselves. The winemaker is just a guide.

What are you most proud of?

(Silence, moment of hesitation) We will be proud of what we will do tomorrow.

How do you recharge?

I exercise, I cycle, I run with my dog in the vineyards. I like to spend time with my family and with Astrid to talk about other things.


Book: The Permaculture of the Bec Helloin

Movie: Peaky Blinders or a film by Tarantino or Scorsese

Music: The Four Seasons by Vivaldi

Dish: Beef Bourguignon

Vintage: 2018, the easiest to make in the cellar and which has reserved some nice surprises for me

Grape variety: A hybrid, whichever one

Memorable bottle: Musigny Grand Cru, Comte de Vogüé 1957 which was still planted in ungrafted vines. It was magical!

Color: Blue

Scent: Coriander

Sport: Judo

Destination: Portsall in Brittany

Perfect Sunday: With family, a bit of sports before gathering around a good table with beautiful bottles.

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