(Séverine) Cat! Because I love them — I love their independence and honesty. They choose you, and not the reverse!
The wine that lit the fire:
(Séverine) Just after arriving in Bordeaux, I was invited to the 100 year anniversary of the Bordeaux brokers. It was a gala dinner with some very nice people at our table who became good friends, and Petrus 1990 was served in magnum for all the assembly — unforgettable!
(Véronique) A Malartic-Lagravière red 1982. In 1999, my parents who had bought the estate two years before, hosted a dinner for the opening of Vinexpo in Bordeaux. At that time, I was having my own career in Paris. I attended the dinner where we were served a vertical of Malartic, and as part of it, the 1982. I was struck – so elegant, carved like lace. What an emotion!
(Véronique) A wide and international community of wine lovers.
(Séverine) Stretching for my body, also for my mind. I need this to relax and reconnect with me. I do this every evening at home.
(Véronique) Every day when I arrive at the office, I take a look at my agenda to see my appointments and to-do list. Organization is a key concept when managing estates in both hemispheres with different cultures.
The thing that led you to wine as a career:
(Séverine) I met my future husband at business school before my parents-in-law entered in the wine business themselves. We arrived together with my husband in Bordeaux in 2003 to take over the family business.
(Véronique) In 1997, my parents fulfilled their passion for Bordeaux wines acquiring Château Malartic-Lagravière, a Classified Growth of Graves in both red and white wines. In 2005, our family expanded by acquiring two other estates: Château Gazin-Rocquencourt in Pessac-Léognan (Bordeaux) and Bodega DiamAndes (Valle de Uco, Argentina — also producer of Clos de Los Siete wine). This is when I joined the family business. I was at that time working for Danone in Lyon, after a previous experience in Price-Waterhouse auditing firm. The challenge of bringing my added-value to the project and contributing to the development of the Vignobles Malartic (the three estates) was very exciting. Furthermore, I was attracted with the emotional dimension of the wine. The fact that Mother Nature is part of the deal bringing its days of joys and fears, and that sharing the wine favours nice moments and encounters throughout the world.
(Séverine) Marketing and communication manager of Vignobles Malartic (Château Malartic-Lagraviere, Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt in Bordeaux and Bodega Diam Andes in Argentina). I’m based in Léognan — near Bordeaux.
(Véronique) I’m president of Vignobles Malartic, based in Bordeaux and I do also travel to our winery in Argentina four times a year. I co-manage the estates with my brother, Jean-Jacques.
Favourite part of your job:
(Séverine) Contact with press media when there is interest in your winery; great dinner where you could have access to incredible wines, as the Academie de Bordeaux dinner during the premier week where very old Grand Crus are poured in big bottles. Or just when I’m taking a breath in the middle of the vineyard —it’s magic!
(Véronique) I love it all. It’s so complete, with two harvests a year between France and Argentina. I think the nicest part is sharing the wines with customers or amateurs during tastings and dinners. It is like a childbirth — a whole team has contributed to creating this specific wine, expressing our philosophy and values, and we are the lucky one to present it. We have a great team in each winery and I also learn a lot about our exchanges of views, our successes and our mistakes. There is a nice dynamism between us and I have the feeling we grow together.
If you could pick another way to get involved in the wine world, what would it be?
(Séverine) Maybe sommelier — for the contact with customers, and food and wine pairing.
(Véronique) Sommelier – they are the perfect ambassadors between the estates and the people.
Current wine crush:
(Séverine) I’m doing my sauce recipes with some Malartic! Grand ru assé sauce!
(Véronique) A few days ago, a Trotanoy 1971 (my birth year) that a friend of mine [who was] also born in 1971 had opened for the dinner!
(Séverine) I love to try vegetarian food with both white and red wines. It’s not so common in Bordeaux! Recently, I had a beautiful green salad with avocado and a lot of vegetables. Just amazing with our white Malartic!
(Véronique) Recently, as part of the annual dinner des Disciples d’Escoffier, I tasted a dish consisting of beef tartare, oyster and Aquitaine caviar prepared by Chef Anthony Davis (two Michelin stars). This was paired with our 2013 Gazin-Rocquencourt white (100 per cent sauvignon blanc). The pairing on paper at first surprised me but once in my mouth, it was just astounding! The complexity of aromas, the vivacity of the wine answering the iodized side of the oyster, the consistency of the meat and caviar that matched the harmonious roundness of the wine on the palate. It was a real festival for my taste buds.
Dream dinner date:
(Séverine) Sheryl Sandberg, because of her book on women leadership!
(Véronique) I would enjoy sharing a dinner with Anne-Sophie Pic (three Michelin stars). I like the modernity that she brings to gastronomy and the challenge of perpetuating the family restaurant, bringing to it her feminine touch. I would also invite Bernard Arnault because of the tremendous achievement in developing the LVMH group, making it a flagship of its industry. His experience would be interesting to share. And last but not least, Bono, the song leader from U2. U2 has always been my favourite band and I know Bono loves wine.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
(Séverine) Listen, learn from others, but be proud of your work.
(Véronique) Trust yourself.
Have you ever experienced gender bias or discrimination in your work? How did you approach the situation?
(Séverine) Yes, when arriving in Bordeaux, even working for the family company, men were asking me only about kids or cooking. I still feel sometimes that men should have more responsibilities than women.
(Véronique) I’ve never experienced gender bias or discrimination in each of my jobs, I’ve always been treated equally to any other of my peers — achievement was the only scorer to judge our performance.
Why do you think women are underrepresented in the wine industry?
(Séverine) They need to have more self-confident to lead companies and be more involved in the technical part.
(Véronique) This is a heritage of the past but it’s really changing. We see more and more women in all parts of the industry: technical, buyers, CEO, enotourism, wine writers and sommeliers. Recently, Pascaline Lepeltier became best sommelier of France in 2018, and Nina Højgaard Jensen finished second in the Best Sommelier of the World contest this year in Antwerp at only 26-years-old!
What are the most significant challenges for women in our industry, and for those women who will come after us?
(Séverine) Be more present in the technical part and not only in marketing and hospitality.
(Véronique) To communicate about their achievements.
Is there something that you do to support the women in our industry? If not currently, what would you like your legacy to be?
(Séverine) Not really, but I’m very concerned by the subject. On the other hand, I see some positive aspect — girls are very good students and we see more women as oenologists or working the cellars.
(Véronique) We have been hiring several women in our organizations, not because of their gender but because their experience and profile suited better what we were looking for. They are leaving examples for others.
Is there anyone who has become a mentor for you, or otherwise been especially inspirational or supportive?
(Séverine) Sylvie Cazes,CEO of la Cité du Vin, and my father who also told me to be creative and dynamic in my job, to always have a new project in mind.
(Véronique) My operations manager when I was in Danone, Pierric Magnin. He taught us to thrive for excellence and continuous improvement.
(Séverine) Raising more Malartic recognition, developing a lot of hospitality projects (we will have a new area in 2019), and personally, I’d like to be more active in the associations around me (AOC, Union des Grands Crus, etc.) I’m not only working for my estate, but for the region also.
(Véronique) To continue developing the brand awareness of Vignobles Malartic around the world and on a more personal basis, to accompany our older children to successfully fly from the nest