Virginie Taupenot-Daniel – Domaine Taupenot-Merme
The Taupenot-Merme estate is situated in the beautiful village of Morey-Saint-Denis, in the heart of the famous Cotes de Nuits vineyards. It cultivates 13 hectares or 33 acres of vineyards covering 19 appellations in both Cotes de Beaune and Cotes de Nuits.
The estate comes from the division of the vines belonging to the family Merme of which half went to Denise Taupenot and the other half to Henri Perrot-Minot. Most of The Côte de Beaune side comes from Jean Taupenot, who is originally from Saint Romain.
The Taupenot-Merme estate is now jointly run by Virginie and her brother Romain, with their parents still active. Each has a particular role to play in the running of the estate. Father works primarily in the vineyards, taking great care of the non-certified organic cultivation – something Virginie says the family strongly believe in. Fully certified organic is not, however a priority as the family like to have some scope in their cultivation methods.
Mother works in the office, dealing with the accountancy and administrative duties, Romain makes the wine and with Virginie, they covers the sales and marketing side. Although these are generally designated roles, everyone mucks in doing what is necessary, when necessary, says Virginie.
The estate produces around 75,000 bottles of wine with some excellent Chardonnay coming from their vines in Auxey-Duresses and Saint Romain (Virginie’s father’s native village).
Their reds cover all appellations from Bourgogne and Bourgogne Passetoutgrains to their flagships reds of Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Combe d’Orveau, Nuits Saint George 1er Cru Les Pruliers and their outstanding Grand crus Mazoyeres Chambertin, Charmes Chambertin, Corton Rognet.
Since Virginie and Romain have taken charge, their wines have progressively found that extra finesse and elegance that is so sought after in Burgundy wines, which puts them amongst the A list of Burgundy estates.
One of the Grand Cru appellations that recently made headline news is the famous Clos des Lambrays. It is now common knowledge that the luxury goods group LVMH bought the Clos des Lambrays estate for over 100 million euros. What is not commonly known is that the Taupenot Merme estate owns a tiny part of the plot, 430m2,that produces approximately 200 bottles. But don’t think you can just turn up and taste it, as some journalists are trying to do at the moment, you can only enjoy this unique wine if you buy a mixed case of their Grand Crus and then they’ll include one bottle of Clos des Lambrays!
But what makes this family estate stand out from the others? Having talked to Virginie, the first thing that springs to mind is the relative simplicity in which business is conducted. There are no “frills” to this estate. This quintessential Burgundy estate offers what every wine amateur is after: a warm welcome, a detailed explanation on the estates “style” of wine making and a comprehensive tasting. Although in general in Burgundy, it is considered impolite to just turn up and ask for a tasting (this is a top estate don’t forget!), if Virginie or her brother are available and have time, they show you around regardless of appearance and protocol. Okay, the gates and facade are quite daunting and they don’t advertise “dégustations”, but this isn’t your ordinary “walk-in” estate. They too suffer from the small yields offered over the last four years. Virginie almost apologizes when she explains that their distributors didn’t have a large helping of the 2012 vintage.
So what about 2013, currently barreled?
Virginie believes it to be an exciting vintage, not strong on tannins unlike 2012, but typically “Pinot” – fruity and floral – and lots of finesse and elegance. The yield is also up on 2012.
And for 2014? Well for Virginie, things are going very well for the moment with ideal weather conditions, however, as for each year since 2005, the threat of summer storms including hail, are always in the reckoning and as all farmers admit, the weather can change everything,
Virginie can also be portrayed as a woman with ambition, but not of the self-centered type, rather that of promoting women in the wine industry in Burgundy and also helping the lesser known wine regions of the Burgundy region and it’s wine producers establish a successful image in France and overseas. That is why Virginie was given the presidency of the FEVB association (Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne) – women and wine of Burgundy. She sees her role as helping to promote women in the wine industry in Burgundy and in particular those who are not geographically located in the iconic Cotes de Nuits or Cotes de Beaune districts. The association prides itself in exchanging information and best practices between women winemakers as well as promoting each estate member. Wherever the estates may reside, the women that run them all have great qualities which are put to use within the association, says Virginie.
When talking to Virginie about the future of Burgundy and her estate in particular, Virginie remains optimistic. “we are lucky to be living through an exciting period in Burgundy wine history, but we have to be ready to adapt to new challenges and maybe new ways of promoting the wines of our region”. Virginie has two young children and a husband works in a completely different industry which means that dinner time conversations aren’t all about wine! When asked if one day her children will take over the estate, she replies ” my brother Romain has two older teenagers who could be ready to take the helm in a few years, but you’d have to ask him and my two kids are still young…they still have plenty of time to decide.”
Energetic, bright, determined and charming. Four adjectives that alone certainly don’t do justice to the skills and generous ambitions of this estate owner.