bucket of grapes

Sustainability at Justerini & Brooks

13 April 2021

Julian Campbell

Working towards a better future

Drinking fine wine shouldn’t cost the Earth. While our environmental impact may be relatively small, we feel it’s right to minimise our carbon footprint in whatever way we can. Whether that’s asking suppliers to reduce the weight of their bottles or finding more sustainable packaging, we have a responsibility to find better solutions.

As a basic rule, our buyers only work with producers that make wines in ways that are both ethical and environmentally responsible. We are also a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, a dedicated community that aims to support foodservice businesses, suppliers, and discerning diners.

We also actively support beacons of sustainable winemaking. For example, we are now working with Felton Road in New Zealand, Frog’s Leap in Napa Valley, and Château de Meursault, which is soon to be the largest certified organic estate in the Côte d’Or.

And, while our buyers always try to use trains, some destinations still aren’t served from St Pancras… so we also offset all our business flights.

The little things matter too. For example, to improve our carbon footprint, we have partnered with distribution service Great Bear, which uses hybrid vans to deliver our wine. We also now send out tasting samples in more eco-friendly 50ml and 100ml bottles.

Exterior of Justerinis building

Domaine Génot-Boulanger

When we first visited Domaine Génot-Boulanger in Burgundy during the spring of 2018, we were startled by the consistent brilliance of both its red and white wines. Just like the Domaine’s owners, Aude and Guillaume Lavollée, the wines are precise, composed, and elegant. And that brilliance begins in the vineyards.

As with so many of the viticulturalists and winemakers we work with, Aude and Guillaume are motivated by a passion for their vineyards and for the Earth. Their efforts are focused on their vineyard practices, and in particular on the life of their soils. Soon after Aude and Guillaume took over the running of the Domaine from Aude’s father, François Delaby, in 2008, they began converting their 22 hectares to organic farming – a process that culminated with certification in 2018.

Aude and Guillaume aren’t resting on their laurels though. Instead, they continue to experiment, studying the effects of biodynamic farming in several parcels, including how herbal teas and composts improve the health of the soil. In some of their smaller parcels, they are also using horses to draw their ploughs which of course cuts out any fuel use, and also seems to be kinder to the soils which is only to be encouraged.

That painstaking work in the vineyards is mirrored in the cellar, where Aude and Guillaume have adopted a less interventionist approach to their winemaking. The result is that their wines express the complexity and finesse of their great Burgundian terroirs by allowing the quality and character of the vineyard to remain the most important factor.

A small amount of whole bunch fermentation used to be employed for the Pinot Noir fermentations, in specific vintages, but the Lavollées have now moved to a complete de-stalking of the berries. Those fermentations take place with indigenous yeasts and the extractions are gentle. The reds then age in oak barrels – 20% new – for 12 months, followed by a further six months of ageing in tanks. The whites undergo a similar process, with the only difference being no sulphur is added to the wine until after malolactic conversion has been completed.

We stock 74 wines produced across Domaine Génot-Boulanger’s 30 appellations - each wine is totally true to its vineyard, capturing its distinct character and terroir in the bottle.

As fourth-generation winemakers, Aude and Guillaume are continuing a journey that began in 1974, when two pharmacists, Charles-Henri Génot and his wife, Marie Boulanger, pursued their life-long dream and moved south from Paris to Meursault and bought their first vineyards in Mercurey.

Now, as Domaine Génot-Boulanger approaches its 50th anniversary in 2024, Aude and Guillaume continue to capture the diversity of their climats and the maturity of their vines with as little impact on the Earth and environment as possible. They produce beautiful, noble Burgundies, which are an interpretation of their terroirs, and filled with character and finesse, conviviality and pleasure. As founder Charles-Henri himself put it: “The vine harbours too many hopes to be cultivated with anything but the very greatest care.”

Landscape of a field

4 Monos

Lying an hour to the west of Madrid, the Sierra de Gredos is a magical point where the mountains and the Mediterranean meet. Among the scrubland and the olive trees, the chamomile and the wildflowers, old bush vines dig their roots down deep into a complex mix of granite, sand, and schist. A beautiful and diverse landscape that deserves to be looked after and cared for.

And is where 4 Monos was born when four friends, who met hiking through the Gredos, made their first vintage together in 2010 and named their winery the ‘Four Monkeys’.

Organic farming has always been at the heart of 4 Monos’ ethos. The partners always wanted to capture the essence of the landscape, creating wines with crystallinity and transparency. It’s a story that we hear again and again from our winemakers and viticulturalists and stands so true here – they want to grow grapes using methods that enrich their soils and care for their vines, and organic farming often sits at the heart of their methods.

Over the past decade, 4 Monos has bought five hectares of vineyards, and farms each parcel organically. The team also works with local growers who share their passion for organic farming and together tend a further 5ha, giving 4 Monos access to 10ha of wonderful organic fruit in total. This rich resource centres around old vine Garnacha grown on decomposed granite that is bright, racy and crystalline as a wine; but also includes some of the region’s lesser-known grape varieties, including Albillo and Morenillo.

While the flavour profiles of each of 4 Monos’ wines varies according to the individual characteristics of each vineyard’s terroir, what links them together is the same bristling acidities, seductive perfumes, and succulence of fruit, which provide a consistent theme throughout the range.

The GR10 wine is named after a local hiking route, and gives an outstanding entry-level introduction to the fresh and fruity side of Garnacha from the Gredos – amplified through careful organic farming.  The other wines in 4 Manos’ portfolio express the characteristics of each sub-region within the mountain range and to do this, you need as little intervention in the winery as possible.

The friends behind 4 Manos love the landscape that surrounds their winery, and their care for the environment through organic farming demonstrates their dedication to preserving their old vines and the wider ecosystem in this beautiful and profound stretch of Spain’s central plateau.

Saddled horse in a field

Domaine Weinbach

BIODYNAMICS has been at the heart of Domaine Weinbach’s winemaking ethos for a generation. Originally beginning with organic farming during the 1990s, and the Faller family then went a step further in 1998 when they introduced biodynamic principles to eight hectares in their holdings. Since 2005, all 28 hectares have been farmed biodynamically.

Rooted in the work of Rudolf Steiner and Maria Thun and of course avoiding all use of synthetic treatments, Domaine Weinbach’s adoption of biodynamics goes much deeper than many others. The estate applies animal-, mineral- and plant-based sprays according to the lunar cycle in order to build up the health of its soils and its vines, along with careful ploughing of the earth to increase the flow of air. From horsetail, nettle, and willow through to manure and silica, the Domaine uses natural products and traditional remedies, such as copper and sulphur sprays, as a matter of course.

“Biodynamic viticulture respects life, stimulates biological activity and the natural balance of our soils, and ultimately enables our terroirs to express themselves through our grapes and magnifies their sensory characteristics,” explains the Faller family. “Vines which are cultivated in accordance with these methods harmonise with their environment; they produce natural and complex fruit, therefore the wine is more authentic, and purely unique.”

“That sense of producing authentic wine from complex fruit strikes a chord with us because our portfolio is built around producers that value and care for their soils, boosting not only the biodiversity in their vineyards but also the flavours in their fruit.” – Julian Campbell

Over the years it has become increasingly clear that this approach allows Domaine Weinbach to capture and amplify the diversity and distinctive terroirs for which the Alsace region is world famous. Their vineyards include parcels of Riesling grown on the granite slopes of Grand Cru Schlossberg, the oldest Grand Cru in Alsace, along with Gewurztraminer at Furstentum and Mambourg, and Pinot Gris at Marckrain.

Cathy Faller, and her sons Eddy and Théo, are at the helm today and the output of this historic estate has never been better. A biodynamic beacon, source of Alsace’s most elegant wines; it’s a golden era for this iconic Alsatian estate.

two people working in a vineyard