Jules Chauvet

The father of the French natural wine movement is Jules Chauvet, a négociant from Beaujolais who died in 1989. He is little known outside France.

Chauvet was a rare combination of winemaker, research chemist, and supremely gifted taster. He argued for naturalness in wine from a position of scientific expertise and immense practical experience.

It was the calm conclusion of a life dedicated to making, tasting and understanding wine.

And he didn't just argue for natural wine. He explained exactly how to make it. His few published works have become textbooks for young natural winemakers.


Jules Chauvet was a fourth-generation winemaker.

His father died young, leaving him the family business (as a négociant) in La Chapelle-de-Guinchay. Despite his dedication to scientific research, Chauvet always remained a winemaker first and foremost.

And the wine he made was highly regarded. General De Gaulle considered it the perfect example of a light, fragrant Beaujolais, and showed his appreciation by drinking it every day.


Chauvet was deeply interested both chemistry and biology from a young age. Whilst still working for his father, he would spend a few days a week at the Instituit de Chimie in Lyon.

In 1935 he began a correspondence with Nobel prize-winning physiologist Otto Warburg on the development of a particular microbe in white wines. The two became friends and later he spent time at Warburg's laboratory in Berlin.

Chauvet's research was always focussed on wine. He was particularly interested in yeasts, and published important work on malolactic fermentation and carbonic maceration, which he was one of the first to practice.

He also developed the INAO tasting glass, later adopted by the ISO, which has become the industry standard.


Jules Chauvet is widely regarded in France as one of the best tasters in living memory. His exact, and exacting, approach has had a profound influence on modern tasting.

According to him, tasting notes should not be impressionistic. They are not poetry. The taster's role is to identify and record specific odours present in the wine.

To do so he needs to develop the ability to recognise and name them as automatically as he does colours. Chauvet would spend time every year in Grasse, the capital of France for perfume, working with the parfumeurs to improve his nose.

To him, saying 'fruity' or 'floral' was not enough. The taster needs to know exactly which fruit or flower they have detected.