NOT DRINKING POISON
NOT DRINKING POISON Podcast
Ep. 25: Anders Frederik Steen
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Ep. 25: Anders Frederik Steen

A chat with the renowned Danish sommelier turned importer turned Ardèche négociant-vigneron (and author).

Winemaker in English is a stupid word, because I don’t see myself as a maker of anything. I mean, we pick the grapes, we press them, we leave them to macerate; of course we do things. So we make stuff. But the wine? If you see the period of time where we actually work the grapes… Let’s say we work the grapes for six or seven weeks. Then it’s in barrel for four or five years. - Anders Frederik Steen

Anders Frederik Steen is a Danish vigneron-négociant based with his wife and collaborator Anne Bruun Blauert in the southern Ardèche village of Valvignières, where the couple established a winemaking practice throughout the 2010s with the aid of Ardèche natural wine progenitors Gérald and Jocelyne Oustric of Domaine du Mazel. Today the couple farm almost 6ha of viognier, sauvignon, grenache blanc, grenache noir, portan, syrah, and serine, supplementing it with an almost equal volume of grape purchases from Domaine du Mazel and from Alsace vigneron Stéphane Bannwarth. In 2021, Barcelona-based interiors magazine Apartamento published a very lightly-edited volume compiling seven years of Steen’s tasting observations and notes-to-self, entitled Poetry is Growing in Our Garden.

Steen’s charmed career in natural wine began in 2007, when he worked at Noma under pathbreaking Swedish natural wine sommelier Pontus Eloffson (and alongside another Swedish sommelier Ulf Ringus, now a partner in Sweden natural wine importer Vin & Natur). Steen left two years later to partner in influential Copenhagen restaurants Relae and Manfred’s, a time when he also began importing natural wine to Denmark. His winemaking practice began in 2013, in what was initially envisioned as an ongoing collaboration with the influential radical natural winemaker Jean-Marc Brignot, who at that time had recently left France for Japan. Their partnership lasted three years, by which time Steen had already begun to base himself in Ardèche, drawn by the sense of community and camaraderie surrounding the Oustrics at Domaine du Mazel. Steen and Blauert began farming their own parcels in 2017; today the couple live with their two children in center of Valvignières, where they are in the midst of renovating their own cellar after several years vinifying at Domaine du Mazel.

Although we’ve traveled in similar orbits for many years, it wasn’t until harvest time at Domaine du Mazel 2019 that I first encountered Steen outside of the context of a natural wine salon. And it wasn’t until January of this year that we finally found an occasion to chat and taste some wines together, on an unseasonably spring-like morning before the Montpellier salons. Check out the episode for Steen’s peculiar writing process (it involves text messages); which winemaking techniques he learned from Jean-Marc Brignot; and his dastardly scheme to ensure the couple’s wines take up as much layout space as possible on restaurant wine lists.

Aaron

This is a free episode of the NOT DRINKING POISON podcast. For access to all the episodes - plus years of vigneron interviews, profiles, news reports, and commentary - please subscribe!


FURTHER READING & LISTENING

Ep. 24: Sune Rosforth of Rosforth & Rosforth
Ep. 26: Martin Ho of Pompette

A long interview with Anders Frederik Steen and Anne Bruun Blauert by Madeleine Willis in Apartamento.

A terrific 2021 profile of Anders Frederik Steen and Anne Bruun Blauert by Alicia in Le Figaro.

Podcast Series III: Les Emigré(e)s - Expat Natural Winemakers in France, Part I
Podcast Series III: Les Emigré(e)s - Expat Natural Winemakers in France, Part II

Podcast Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part I
Podcast Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part II

Podcast Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part I
Podcast Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part II

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NOT DRINKING POISON
NOT DRINKING POISON Podcast
Natural wine culture, by Aaron Ayscough. Reporting from Paris since 2010. Roughly a third of this podcast is available for free. For access to the other episodes - and to heaps of wine interviews, profiles, translations, commentary, and more - subscribe to