Sylvain Cathiard's story begins with his grandfather, who arrived in Burgundy from the Savoie region in the 1930s and found work with Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Lamarche. While working for these prestigious domaines he acquired a handful of vines here and there, building a small portfolio of vine parcels that he passed on to his son André. It was André who began to bottle his own wine. Eventually he was joined by his son Sylvain. Sylvain worked for a while unpaid, at least until he got married when the new Mrs Cathiard insisted that he ought to be given a wage. Sylvain bought a few of his own parcels to show his dad that he was not only deadly serious but seriously capable too, and eventually M. Cathiard senior rented his son some of his own vines. In 1995 André retired and Sylvain took on all of his families holdings, adding them to his own. Sylvain has now been joined by his son Sebastien, who is now making the wines.
During his tenure Sylvain Cathiard has built a superb reputation for the quality of his now highly sought-after wines. The vast majority of what he makes is exported to eager Burgundy lovers around the world with a significant proportion coming to the UK. There are some 5 hectares of vines dotted around Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-St-George, with a small parcel of Clos Vougeot and Romanée-St-Vivant.
Many vines are old and yields are low, and Sylvain uses no artificial fertilisers or pesticides though he has not sought organic certification. He, his son and his wife Marinette do all the vineyard work themselves with assiduous care. All the grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and carefully sorted on tables at the winery before being cold settled prior to a fermentation of 16 to 22 days.
The best wines, at grand cru level, may see 100% new oak while village wines are more likely to go into 40-50% new oak. None of the wines are filtered before bottling. The result is wines that have earned an enviable reputation for purity, intensity and balance.