The winemaking talent behind over a decade of top-rated vintages
- Nicolas cut his teeth on his first vintage way back in 2000. And now 21 vintages down the line he can be found making high-end organic wines at the very same winery where it all started, in the small Rousillion appellation of Maury.
- Over the years at Mas Amiel Nicolas has developed a meticulous winemaking process that focuses closely on biodynamic farming and low-intervention winemaking techniques. His tiny but dedicated team of just 20 are a well oiled machine, with an intense daily routine that starts at the crack of dawn and ends late in the evening.
- Mas Amiel's has an open door culture, every year inviting visitors to get involved with harvesting the exciting new vintage at the vineyard. Nicolas can’t wait to welcome Angels to join him at Mas Amiel and meet his newly found community of wine lovers.
Nicolas Raffy's Story
When did you realise that winemaking is your passion?
I started drinking wine for the first time with my parents when I was a late teenager. I felt right away curiosity for it. I was young and foolish but I was fixated from the first moment I tasted it.
How long have you been making wine?
I started winemaking in 2000 and this year is my 21st vintage at Mas Amiel! So I have done all of my winemakings here, at Mas Amiel.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I believe there is one thing which never changes in my day to day. This is in the early stage of the day. I always wake up very early, like 5am. So my routine is to get to the Estate usually just before sunrise and go around the vineyards for a while before getting to the winery and checking the tanks and temperatures. Of course, I do not check all our 130 parcels of vines every day. But for sure, when I am not travelling, there is no day I am not saying hello to the vines in the morning. At the beginning, it was mostly for keeping an eye permanently on the vineyards. I guess it also became kind of a ritual now.
Who are the people around you that make your wine a reality?
A bunch of hard working guys! There are 20 employees working all year long at the winery. My closest colleague is Jean Marie who is our “Maitre de Culture”. It means he takes care of the vineyards and harvest. So very very important to be perfectly connected together as all good wine starts in the vineyards. We have like 10 to 15 guys working the vineyards, daily. And then I am working with Louis, our “Maitre de Chai”. He is the one controlling the wines in the winery together with a few other colleagues. Frankly, when you manage a property of 150 hect in a so rough and difficult climate like in Maury, you have to trust your team.
What is the craziest thing you've ever done in the name of wine?
Not sleeping for 2 days and 2 nights to taste a fermenting vat in continuous time.
Outside of winemaking, what interests you?
Describe your winemaking style/philosophy in 5 words (must be applicable for the wines you craft for Naked Wines).
Purity, sincerity, fidelity to the terroir, transmission and sensitive
What events in your career inspired your current style/philosophy?
It is not an event but a long journey through the vintages that I have vinified here, with my feet anchored to the ground and my mind turned towards dreams. The great wines of the south are born in the minds of those who dare. This journey allowed me to assert my style, full respect for fruit and freshness.
Most memorable moment making wine?
I wish I could flash back to my first vintage and tell myself that I have another 20 ahead of me!
Biggest challenge you ever faced making a wine?
Free myself from what I had learned at school to make wine and let my heart speak.
Why did you choose to work with Naked Wines? When did you join?
Mas Amiel has always been open doors! In France, Mas Amiel is an institution because we have always been close to the consumer for so many decades. Indeed, everybody can come to the winery, walking around, tasting for free and talking with us. We value a lot this easy access we give to the wine lovers. Nowadays we would like to create the same kind of bond with more people, crossing the borders and reaching Angels in different countries.
Do you have a message you'd like to share with Angels?
Enjoy and share!
What is your dream project?
Pass on what I have learned over 21 years