We met Tomoko Kuriyama a couple of years ago. She’s a friend of Eva Fricke and we would often bump into her on the Rheingau while she was working as winemaker at Altenkirch in Lorch. She moved to Burgundy recently to start a mini-Negociant with her boyfriend Guillaume Bott, who is winemaker at Simon Bize in Savigny. We tasted in their temporary cellar, a chill-room in a corner of a wooden case manufacturer between Beaune and Savigny. 2010 is their first vintage. The courtiers (who work behind the scenes putting grape sellers in touch with buyers) have a soft spot for Guillaume, so their first collection had some surprisingly serious Appellations – Meursault and a sensational Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Morgeots, for example. We were quick to load their first bottling, a delicious, classic hazelnutty, village Meursault into the Winery van, making us their first export sale.
How did Tomoko come to be in Burgundy? Winding back, she was born in Tokyo in 1968. Her first husband was German and when her kids went to Uni in Germany, she had to find something to do. She learnt German, thought about Uni herself, then thought about wine. Living the Franken side of Frankfurt she knocked on the legendary Paul Furst’s door. Although he didn’t take her seriously at first, he did take her in eventually. She became an apprentice and did everything. After three years with Furst, she went to Geisenheim, then to Breuer in Rudesheim, then to the amazing, biodynamic grower, Peter-Jakob Kuhn in Oestrich-Winkel, before landing the job at Altenkirch.
Guillaume Bott was born in Dijon and lived in Beaune where he went to the Lycee Viticole for five years. he says he was a poor student. He did stages at Vannieres in Bandol and Sauzet in Puligny before moving to Bize.
Tomoko and Guillaume have now moved in together and collaborate in every area. Clearly, with their pedigree, they have a bright future ahead of them!