Industry opinion on the pricing of Bordeaux’s 2023 vintage

Viable release price distribution (as featured in Bordeaux Study Part I: Scalpel, please)

Wine Lister has published Part I of its annual Bordeaux study, titled Scalpel, please’. The report is informed by Wine Lister’s 80 million rows of data and reveals the results of our latest survey of 58 CEOs, MDs, and wine department heads from companies represent well over one-third of global fine wine revenues. Our latest blog explores some of the key findings from Part I, including trade recommendations for how the impending 2023 vintage should be priced in order to restore Bordeaux and the en primeur system to full health. We asked our survey respondents the following question:

On average, in order for the 2023 en primeur campaign to attract decent demand, what do you believe to be the maximum viable release price vs 2022?

When asked about the pricing of the upcoming en primeur campaign, the respondents called unilaterally for a price reduction on the 2022 vintage, while suggesting an average release price discount of -30%.

Americas and Asia (both smaller subsets of the survey) agree on lower median discounts, proposing -20% and -25%, respectively, while European trade members suggest an average -30%. La Place de Bordeaux and specialist merchants / retailers both suggest a median discount of -30%, top tier merchants / importers recommend a -23% discount, and auction houses call for an average -10% on the 2022.

Median by geography (as featured in Bordeaux – Part I, Scalpel, please)


Median by trade sector (as featured in Bordeaux – Part I, Scalpel, please)


Purchase the full study here (in French and English) to read more exclusive insights from the fine wine trade’s leading industry figures.

Bordeaux Study 2024 Part I: “Scalpel, please”

Study digest: key findings from from Bordeaux – Part I, “Scalpel, please”

With Bordeaux en primeur around the corner, Wine Lister has now published Part I of its 2024 Bordeaux Study: “Scalpel, please

The report is informed by our annual survey of 58 international leading trade figures alongside our 80 million rows of data, providing crucial information for those who are selling or buying Bordeaux en primeur over the coming months. Purchase the full report here for £150 (in French or in English) for exclusive insight on Bordeaux’s top-performing wines and market expectations for the 2023 release price. Our Pro subscribers can access their free copy here.

Please see our key findings below, or download the study digest in English: Study Digest ENG or in French: Study Digest FR.

Marketing and communications: a reference for fine wine PR

Informed by data, enriched by creativity, achieved through storytelling

In the midst of the 2020 global pandemic, after persuasion from some of our longstanding clients, Wine Lister launched its strategic marketing and communications division. We agreed to extend beyond our data roots to help a small handful of producers maintain and grow relationships with key industry figures around the world despite travel restrictions.

This branch of our services has expanded and excelled beyond our expectations, and, as a result, has had a large influence on the launch of our new website and logo. We apply the same rigour and methodology to this work as we do to our data and analysis services and are dedicated to devising effective solutions, both short- and long-term, to ensure the success of our clients’ brands.

With decades of combined fine wine experience across various fields of the industry (in the media, on- and off-trade, and production), our team is uniquely placed to provide strategic advice on how to increase global brand status. Drawing upon our genuine relationships with journalists, critics, merchants, auction houses, and sommeliers, we are dedicated to identifying unexplored opportunities and connecting our clients to those that matter.

Brand strategy

Using market research, case studies, and unrivalled industry insights, Wine Lister adopts a holistic, inherently analytical approach when building a communication strategy for our clients. We refine the stories that will resonate with their target audience and differentiate them from their competitors, while ensuring that their brand DNA remains at the core of the project.

Trade and press communications

Drawing on our unparalleled network, content creation expertise, and in-depth market knowledge, Wine Lister enables fine wine producers to make longstanding connections within the international fine wine sphere. With over 1,000 trade contacts and over 600 press contacts across the globe, we help our clients to establish credibility, build relationships, and effectively promote their wines.

Event organisation

We believe in the power of storytelling: each event is an opportunity to tell your story and connect with your target audience. Having attended hundreds of fine wine events around the world, Wine Lister is uniquely placed to plan and organise flawlessly executed, unforgettable events in London and beyond. Over the last four years of organising events, we have amassed a portfolio of case studies from which we can draw best practice examples and provide informed advice.


Find out more here 



“Wine Lister’s network is second to none. Its trade contact list is unparalleled.”

– Giovanni Mazzei, owner, IPSUS 

“Wine Lister’s widespread connections and insights provide the opportunity to boost activities in multiple sectors of the market in one project. Facing new markets and conducting business in a foreign language, Wine Lister helped me to sharpen and level up the way I talk about Fèlsina wines in English.”

– Michele Parodi, Export Manager, Fèlsina 

Data and analysis: Wine Lister’s bread and butter

Inspiring the design of our new website, our new logo reflects the two branches of our bespoke strategic consulting services – data and analysis, and strategic marketing and communications – which our team often combines to provide the most effective advice to our clients. A serif font and inverted comma evoke storytelling and communications, while a sans-serif font and bar-chart-inspired “E” (maintaining a link with the previous logo and Wine Lister’s roots) represent data and analytics.

Since we were founded in 2016, data has remained at Wine Lister’s core and continues to form a significant part of our fine wine consulting services. In the light of our relaunch last week as a 360 ° consulting agency, we are extremely proud to look back on the development of our analysis (our “bread and butter”). While our original data model still informs a large proportion of our client reports, our analytical consulting now includes a range of bespoke studies and advice, from distribution and pricing to consumer characterisation and blind tasting. We are excited to share with our industry friends, and past, present, and potential clients, exactly what we do and how we can help, and we look forward to watching the branches of our business continue to grow.

The three sub-services outlined below are the key pillars of our data and analysis division, though are merely a starting point for the bespoke analysis we provide.


For the last seven years, Wine Lister has been creating producer positioning reports for many of the world’s top fine wine producers. We offer a 360-degree perspective on the global performance of your wine brand through data-driven benchmarking against custom-built peer groups. Relying on 15 unique data points and including the results of our annual Founding Member Survey, these bespoke studies identify pragmatic opportunities to grow your business, brand, and revenues.

Bespoke consulting

From pricing strategy and pre-acquisition due diligence to market presence analysis and consumer research, Wine Lister has an array of data sources and industry insights to investigate and solve our client’s needs and to deliver substantial value to their company. Designed and executed on a case-by-case basis and guided by a wealth of critics’ scores, market prices, and our partnership with Wine-Searcher: we can help guide your strategy.

Market research

Wine Lister’s trade surveys reveal industry perceptions of your wine and business activities across your key markets. Using our network of over 400 senior industry figures around the world, our questionnaires provide invaluable insights to inform your strategy and drive the growth of your brand. Thanks to our unparalleled network, we can ensure all the potential benefits and risks of our client’s major decisions have been screened.


Find out more here →


“Over the last few years, Wine Lister’s reports have allowed us to monitor precisely the evolution of our brand’s positioning around the world, particularly in the UK, and have helped us assess in great detail the strengths and weaknesses of our distribution.”


“The analyses produced enable wine professionals and consumers alike to get a comprehensive picture of the fine wine market and the positioning of each cru. As producers, we appreciate the expertise of the team behind the platform, which is both modern and highly professional.”


Wine Lister relaunches as a 360° consulting agency


“The launch of our new website and logo marks a significant moment in the evolution of Wine Lister. The new design reflects the holistic nature of our activities, providing bespoke strategic consulting and insider insights to key players in the fine wine ecosystem, marrying analysis and marketing services.”


Over the last seven years, Wine Lister’s increasing wealth of fine wine knowledge and market intelligence has become a key asset to more than 100 of the world’s top wineries, encouraging the evolution of the company’s strategy and services to match the needs of this group. To reflect the fine wine consulting offering at the core of our business, Wine Lister is launching a new website accompanied by an updated brand image.

Wine Lister’s online database of over 80 million rows of data will continue to exist on its new site, and its Pro+ subscription continues to help fine wine buying and sales teams around the world. Meanwhile, the new website will provide visitors with a richer insight into Wine Lister’s flourishing strategic analysis and communication services.

Wine Lister’s groundbreaking data model continues to inform a significant part of these consulting solutions, which now also include a range of bespoke analysis and advice, from distribution and pricing to strategic marketing, communications, and event organisation. As outlined on its new site, Wine Lister’s specialist services are designed entirely around each wine producer’s unique challenges and ambitions. These services can be loosely categorised into two pillars: data and analysis, and strategic marketing and communications.

In practice, these divisions often come together in order to provide the most effective advice to our clients, and are reflected in the dual design of Wine Lister’s new logo: a serif font and inverted comma evoke storytelling and communications, while a sans-serif font and bar-chart-inspired “E” (maintaining a link with the previous logo and Wine Lister’s roots) represent data and analytics.

“We are excited to unveil a new website and logo that accurately reflect who we have evolved to become today. After the last seven years of ceaselessly learning from, and responding to, the needs of the fine wine world’s leading players, we are more focussed than ever on delivering valuable strategic recommendations, backed by our data, our industry expertise, and our relationships. We believe that this new website will allow past, present, and potential clients to understand exactly how we can help them accomplish their goals.”

                         – ELLA LISTER

France’s 50 best winemakers: Guillaume Pouthier of Château les Carmes Haut-Brion

Managing Director of the pioneering Pessac-Léognan estate: “Thinking you’ve made it spells the beginning of the end!”

Guillaume Pouthier, Managing Director of Château les Carmes Haut-Brion, has been awarded the title of France’s best winemaker by Le Figaro. The Pessac-Léognan estate, which today boasts a state-of-the-art winery designed by Philippe Starck, has experienced an unprecedented rise in popularity in recent years, its leaps and bounds in quality driven by the winemaker’s technical daring and spirit of innovation.

“I owe a lot to my mother,” the Toulouse-born winemaker tells Le Figaro. It was his mother who encouraged him to study agricultural engineering, when he had more or less given up on the idea of pursuing higher education. Today, after three decades of winemaking, he embodies one of the most meteoric success stories in the Bordeaux wine region, if not the whole French wine-making industry, over the past five years. Today, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is the fastest-selling en primeur wine, with prices that continue to rise on the secondary market, whereas so many others end up experiencing a decline. What lies behind such enthusiasm? The combination of a unique style – which manages to be both modern and authentic, and is appreciated by critics and consumers alike – with canny marketing management has made the château utterly irresistible. Rare are the winemakers who are able to tackle both fronts with so much panache, whilst remaining kind and humble. All these qualities justify the choice of Guillaume Pouthier at the head of Le Figaro Vin’s ranking of France’s 50 best winemakers.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Guillaume Pouthier: In wine, we never talk about “champions”. The word “champion” is appropriate in sport, where there’s a winner and a loser. Wines, on the other hand, will all reach their target consumers. We make wine in relation to a particular place. No one wine is any better than another; it’s just the purpose of each wine which ends up being different. The reason we make wine is linked to a form of expression. I don’t think I’m any better than the next winemaker and, what’s more, I’m very surprised to be so high in your ranking, especially when I see the exceptional people who have appeared in it. They are legends, whereas I am just a little troublemaker from Toulouse!

Have you been training for long?

I made my first vintage in 1994, so I’ve been doing it for 30 years. There’s still a lot left for me to do. It’s a real marathon – or even an ultra-endurance run. But I’d better lose some weight if I want to do one of those!

Who is your mentor?

I have several. My personal coaches are the people around me – my family – who put into perspective the pressure that I do, at times, feel. Professionally, one always has several mentors. In 1998, when I was only 25 years old, Jean-Marie Chadronnier took a big gamble in handing Château La Garde over to me, a young gun with no experience, and, for that, I am very, very grateful to him. Since then, there have been many people who have inspired me, for the purity of the wines that they produce, which move me beyond words. I am in awe of the wines made at Gonon (Domaine Pierre Gonon in Saint-Joseph, ed.), and of those made by Pierre-Olivier Clouet at Cheval Blanc, and by Baptiste and Julie Guinaudeau at Château Lafleur.

Would you say that wine is a team sport?

The two are synonymous. You can’t make wine without a team behind you, as, when you’re making wine, you’re never 100% right. Each vintage is made up of lots of different decisions, or paths, that you take as you go along. Each one is different, so each year we have to seek out new paths, in order to get to the same destination and make a great wine.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

It’s 100% about place. The winemaker is but a passing presence. Wine was made before they arrived and will continue to be made once they have gone. The winemaker is merely giving a voice, through the various vintages that they work on, to the place. They are the linchpin – the go-between that links the place to the wine that is produced from it. To say otherwise would be to give too much importance to the winemaker’s actions. Of course, we take decisions, and we make choices – but, ultimately, making great wines in less than great locations is something I don’t believe to be possible.

To what or to whom do you owe your success?

I owe it firstly to my parents, who made it possible for me to pursue higher education when it seemed like I wasn’t cut out for it. It was my mother who encouraged me to apply for Purpan (an agricultural engineering school in Toulouse, ed.); I was amazed to be accepted. It was there that I learnt to use a team sport mentality in my work – and it was that very mentality that I wanted to be trained to use. My studies there really helped me in thinking about the questions “What is higher education for?” and “What purpose does the concept of a team serve?”. On our own, we can go far but, together, we can go really far.

Is your family proud of you?

My daughters are 15 and 21. I’m not sure they truly understand what it means to be a winemaker. I think they love their father for who he is, and what he stands for in their eyes, without any thought of professional success. As for my parents, we’re quite reserved in my family, we don’t really show our emotions, we’ve never had this need to say out loud that we’re proud of each other. In our family, pride is out of place.

Who has been your biggest sponsor throughout your career?

I have several. The first is the owner of the estate, Patrice Pichet, who, each vintage, lets me try to make an exceptional wine with my team. Beyond that, our best supporters are all the wine enthusiasts out there who, year after year, are willing to invest a bit of money to buy these fine bottles. I hope they get their moment of pleasure from them.

Your favourite colour?

Blue. It’s a colour that you can find in lots of different places and one that I like to see in the distance – the sea, the sky, the horizon. What is wonderful with wine is that you must never give yourself any limits, never think you’ve got it all covered, you have to keep saying to yourself all the time that you are just at the beginning of your journey.

Your favourite grape variety?

Cabernet Franc, as it’s an unpredictable variety, which is very difficult to tame and to grow to perfect ripeness.

Your favourite wine?

One of my most treasured tasting memories remains a Jean-Louis Chave wine. I think it was during his father’s time – a Cuvée Cathelin 1991. It was a legendary Syrah, as it had everything that you could ever look for in a wine: perfect balance, a lot of complexity, with that kind of characterful elegance that Hermitage wines possess. Above all, it was a wine that made a very great impression on me.

What’s your favourite vintage?

I have two: 2016 and 2022. They are both vintages where we made certain choices – making choices always implies some form of sacrifice.  At a certain moment, you have to accept that to improve, you have to make wines that are a little less extracted, less in-your-face, which will allow you, somehow, to make wines that are much more expressive. Today, those two vintages are the translation of a particular place, they are the image that I visualise when I think of Les Carmes, they represent the choices that we have made as a team, and which have allowed us to make the wine that I had always hoped to make.

If your wine were a person, who would it be?

One person, and one person only: the place it comes from.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Sharing a bottle amongst friends – not necessarily with connoisseurs, but with people who appreciate our winemaking philosophy and where the wine comes from.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

I enhance my wine every day, with the passion that my whole team puts into their work. That shared passion that runs throughout the team – from the winemaker through to the estate owner – is the best enhancer that exists. In life, you need to be both willing and able to do things. We are lucky enough, with our owners, that we are able to do whatever we want to do – which is fairly rare!

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of having encouraged my team to work together, as one, and to take pride in each other’s work, in the project that we have accomplished together and in the recognition that we, and the château, receive from our peers.

Who is your most formidable opponent in Bordeaux?

Mother Nature. With global warming, things are getting very difficult, very stressful, because there are so many different elements and events which can spoil a harvest. It really worries me, as I think this phenomenon will be considerably magnified in vintages to come. Behind each vineyard, there are people, and decades and decades of work which could be erased in a few minutes. You might escape the clutches of disaster for a year, two years, perhaps even three, but I’m not sure you can escape them eternally, between frost, hailstorms, diseases, heatwaves, etc. We do everything we can to prepare for these events, but I’m not sure that we will always manage to recover. We’re putting up a fight, but we have no guarantee that we’ll succeed: even with all the means in the world, it’s Mother Nature who decides.

What’s your most innovative tactic in the vineyard?

No great red wines are made without some moisture restriction, so optimising water management between plots is what makes us tick. This year, it was a real challenge. When it comes to our cultivation techniques, we work the soil, at different moments of the day, and we use different kinds of cover crops. We use green manures of varying compositions, according to the quality of the soil and its porosity. We have certain indicators and, using these indicators, we always try to optimise the moisture restriction without going all the way to hydric stress, because we know very well that it’s when we are stressed that we end up making mistakes.

And in the cellar?

At a time when everyone was against the idea of varietal extraction, we dared to use whole-bunch fermentation – as it used to be done in days of old – and submerged cap techniques.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

The person who succeeds me will have to be someone innovative, passionate and, above all, who is not afraid of mixing things up. Nothing is worse than inertia. I’m not in favour of change for change’s sake, but I am in favour of constantly reassessing things. Bordeaux is a powerhouse, the likes of which exist in very few places around the world. The Place de Bordeaux, if we’re talking about distribution or sales, is the same. However, you mustn’t start thinking you’ve made it, whatever you do – because that spells the beginning of the end!

France’s 50 best winemakers: Marie-Andrée and Marie-Christine Mugneret of Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg

“When we arrived on the scene, there were very few women in this profession,” recount two sisters who co-own and manage this exceptional Burgundy estate.

Occupying the #2 position in Le Figaro Vin’s ranking of France’s Best Winemakers 2023 are Marie-Andrée Nauleau-Mugneret and Marie-Christine Teillaud-Mugneret of Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg. One of Burgundy’s hidden treasures, their domaine is today considered to be a jewel in the region’s crown, despite its understated discretion.

The pair’s father, Georges Mugneret, believed, “It is not a job for women!”. Following his untimely death in 1988, the sisters were faced with a dilemma: should they sell their precious plots to the buyer their father had found before his death, or should they rise to the challenge of taking over the estate? In a heartwarming turn of events, the buyer stepped back chivalrously from the deal, encouraging their mother, Jacqueline, to allow her daughters to write a new chapter in the family history. For Marie-Christine, a pharmacist by trade and already a mother, this entry into the world of wine was unexpected. By contrast, her sister Marie-Andrée, nine years her junior, had always dreamed of working alongside their father. Barely 20 at the time of his death, the young woman was already immersed in her oenology studies. Marie-Christine was the first to join the estate in 1988, and Marie-Andrée followed her when she finished her studies three years later.

The Mugneret sisters, who together represent the third generation of winemakers in the family, make a formidable team, with Marie-Christine in the cellar, and Marie-Andrée in the vineyard. The two women have not lost their taste for hard work, even after more than thirty years at the helm. Today, their wines are every bit as good as their better-known Vosne-Romanée neighbours: caressing, full-bodied and sumptuous, they are the ultimate expression of the extraordinary purity and finesse of Pinot Noir.

How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Marie-Christine Teillaud-Mugneret: Unlike a sporting champion, you don’t necessarily realise straight away that you’re a wine champion. It’s during the various tastings that you realise that you’ve succeeded with the vintage.

Marie-Andrée Nauleau-Mugneret: I’d never asked myself that question. The idea of being wine champions is somewhat abstract for us.

How long have you been training?

M-C-T-M: For 35 years. As the eldest sister, I started first, in 1988, because Marie-Andrée hadn’t yet finished her oenology studies, so I’ve had three more years with the estate.

M-A-N-M: That makes it 32 years for me, officially, but it’s a profession that we were familiar with long before that, when we were children.

Who are your mentors?

M-A-N-M:  In the truest sense, it was our father, because he was the person we worked with the most. We lost him at a very young age, as he died at 59. We also have memories of what our grandfather, who was an excellent craftsman, told us, so we have two different mentors, each with their own method. Our grandfather’s method was more traditional, while our father’s was more innovative. Another of our mentors are the vintages we’ve experienced, year after year.

Is winemaking a team sport?

M-C-T-M: Yes, it would be complicated to be a winemaker on your own. We inevitably have to work with other people.

M-A-N-M: When harvest rolls around, which is the culmination of a year’s work in the vineyards, we really feel the cohesion of the team. That’s the strength of our work!

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

M-A-N-M: Both. The winemaker must work in perfect harmony with the terroir. If the winemaker does not adapt to the terroir, or if he or she lets the riches offered by the terroir go to waste, there will be no good wine.

M-C-T-M: With a difficult terroir, even the best winemaker will not be able to express perfectly his art.

To what do you owe your success?

M-A-N-M: We owe it to the education and legacy that has been handed to us. I’m not talking about inheritance when I say legacy, but the work ethic that was instilled in us. When Marie-Christine and I took over the estate in 1988, before even thinking about satisfying the wine critics, it was absolutely essential that we got each vintage right, that we did our job as well as we could. That is what has enabled us to climb the rungs of this magnificent profession, one by one. We also owe it to the support of our mother, who has played a key role, even though she was never involved in the production.

M-C-T-M: We had grandparents and parents who encouraged us to focus on the smallest details. Just skimming the surface wasn’t enough.

Are your daughters proud of you?

M-C-T-M: I think so, yes.

M-A-N-M: Yes, but not necessarily in terms of professional success. I think they’re especially proud of the fact that, as women and mothers, we’ve managed to make our mark, vintage after vintage. In 1988, when we arrived on the scene, there were very few women in this profession. We didn’t have any brothers or cousins, so we had to push on. I think our daughters are prouder of that aspect than of the estate’s reputation, which came later.

Who is your most important sponsor?

M-A-N-M: Nature, the perfect suitability of the Pinot Noir grape variety, which we are lucky enough to grow, and these terroirs, microscopic on a global scale, which we are lucky enough to manage.

M-C-T-M: Nature can be our best supporter, just as it can be our most terrible adversary.

What’s your favourite colour?

M-C-T-M: Blue, matched with ruby.

M-A-N-M: Blue, too, because it’s the colour of the sky and of the sea.

M-C-T-M: Sometimes, when we arrive in the morning, we are dressed practically the same, even without meaning to.

Your favourite grape variety?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): Pinot Noir!

M-A-N-M: We’re so lucky to have been born here! Pinot Noir offers unrivalled delicacy and variety. Even when it’s grown in other regions, it’s a grape variety that captivates us.

Your favourite wine?

M-C-T-M: I like the Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Chaignots, it’s a safe bet, whatever the vintage, whatever the moment, whoever you open it with. I often compare wines to people, and for me it’s a reliable friend you can count on.

M-A-N-M: For me, it’s the Ruchottes-Chambertin (Grand Cru, ed.). I remember very well when our father bought the plot, because it was a wonderful story involving the Rousseau family. It’s a wine that has charmed everyone, like a new-born baby that wasn’t expected. It’s not exuberant, but delicate.

What’s your favourite vintage?

M-A-N-M: 2002. We liked it so much that, unfortunately, we don’t have much left in the cellar. It offered the generosity of a sun-drenched vintage, but with the great delicacy of a cooler, wetter year.

M-C-T-M: For me, it would be the 2012, ten years later. It’s a vintage full of finesse, which admirably expresses all the terroirs. With this vintage, produced in small quantities, we really have the expression of Pinot Noir from each of them. In fact, I think it’s because we had a small quantity that we were able to achieve this definition and precision.

M-A-N-M: To conclude, we could say that our favourite vintage is always the next one!

If your wine were a person, who would it be?

M-C-T-M:  Each wine has its own personality and, as in a family, each is different from its brother or cousin, with similarities and differences. Each sets itself apart: Chaignots, for example, is the reliable friend, while Chambolle-Musigny is more delicate.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

M-C-T-M: Wine should remain convivial and provide pleasure. You need to be in good company, or already in a good frame of mind. If you are tired or stressed, you should give up on the idea of tasting.

M-A-N-M: Being “in good company” can just mean being with one other person.

M-C-T-M: You need to be with people you feel comfortable with, with whom you want to talk and share.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): Oh no!

M-A-N-M: During the harvest, we pump ourselves full of vitamin C or treat ourselves to a little chocolate.

M-C-T-M:  A gourmet treat is the only kind of enhancement we allow ourselves!

M-A-N-M: The fruit we harvest has to be the only ingredient in our cuvées, meaning that it’s the terroir, the fruit, and the weather conditions of the year that really make the vintage. If we tamper with any one of these three factors, we won’t get the balance we want.

And what about chaptalisation?

M-A-N-M: I discovered chaptalisation with my grandfather, who was in favour of very moderate chaptalisation. By adding a little sugar, it allows the vats to ferment a little longer, so you gain complexity. I call this support, not chemical enhancement. It’s the banana Rafael Nadal needs when a match drags on too long.

At what price would you be prepared to sell your domaine?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): At no price.

M-A-N-M: It’s a question we had to face when our father died. He was an ophthalmologist as well as working on the estate, so he was juggling two roles. He had a completely devoted wife, our mother, who made life run smoothly for him every day. When he knew he was going to die, he said to himself: “If my daughters do this job, they’ll never be able to be mothers. That can’t happen!” He insisted that his chartered accountant find him a buyer a few days before his death. When our father died, the buyer came to see our mother. He said to her: “Look, I promised your husband that I would buy your property. I didn’t discuss the price with him, and I’m not here to discuss the price with you, I’m here to tell you: ‘Try it with your daughters, it’s worth giving it a go!’.” He was an extraordinary person because he could very well have said: “Your husband promised me, he made a commitment”. We have enormous respect for this magnanimous man.

Who is your most formidable opponent in Burgundy?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): The weather, the climate, nature.

What is your greatest achievement?

M-C-T-M: I think it’s having succeeded both in being a mother and in maintaining the estate, and in doing both at the same time. I hope I haven’t neglected either my children or the estate along the way.

M-A-N-M: It’s exactly the same for me, and, what’s more, for the fact that our daughters decided to join us of their own volition (the two sisters each have two daughters, ed.). It was their choice; we never forced them to do it. One day, in 2016, we were having a family meal, just talking, and Marie-Christine and I said: “Look, we’re getting on a bit. It’s a tough business we’re in. If none of you want to take over the business, we’ll understand, but we’re going to have to make a decision”. And our daughters all stopped eating, and said, “But that can’t happen! You mustn’t even think about selling. Give us time to come back to the estate!”. And that is what happened, slowly but surely. Today, three of them work with us and the fourth, Clémence, Marie-Christine’s second daughter, is a lawyer specialising in rural law.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the cellar?

M-C-T-M: In the cellar, I try to instil the importance of attention to detail in Lucie (Hinterlang-Teillaud, ed.), who works with me on blending, bottling, and so on. There are lots of things that she’s already grasped in broad terms and in terms of technique, but I push her to go further and further into the finer details. I ask her to check things and then check them again, to think things through and then think them through again, to go over things and then go over them again. It is a little OCD!

And in the vineyard?

M-A-N-M: Our best tactic is to keep listening to and learning from the vines, and to be constantly seeking balance. You must be attentive, not get stuck in your ways, and try to understand and interpret.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

M-A-N-M and M-C-T-M (in unison): Our daughters!

M-A-N-M: Now the challenge is to pass the baton. We’re running around the estate to ensure a smooth handover, but we still want to keep on running for a while!

M-C-T-M: As Marie-Andrée says, we don’t want to stop here. I’d like to continue running very gently, without leaving the domaine completely.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Frédéric Faye of Château Figeac

Managing Director of the iconic Saint-Émilion estate: “You can plaster make-up on a lot of things, but the truth always comes out”.

Standing at #3 on the podium of France’s Best Winemakers in 2023 is Frédéric Faye, Managing Director of Château Figeac. Since joining the estate in 2013, the passionate, yet patient, winemaker has proved himself many times over.

In 2013, at just 32 years old, Frédéric Faye took over from Count Eric d’Aramon as Managing Director, after holding the positions of Head of Cultivation and Technical Director for the estate. His work was recognised once again in 2022, when the property gained the coveted status of Grand Cru Classé A. The celebrated Saint-Émilion property, which has belonged to the Manoncourt family since 1892, seems to have reached its rightful place, with an instantly recognisable style, and increasing precision with each vintage.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Frédéric Faye: Personally, I’m not so sure I’m a champion. It’s really Château Figeac and its wine that are the champions. I’m lucky to have been working here for 21 years, alongside the Manoncourt family, who placed their trust in me. So the champion is really Figeac, and its great terroir.

Have you been training for long?

I have been training for 21 years at Figeac, but I started even before that. I come from a farming family in the Périgord, and you could say I’ve always been immersed in agriculture. Whether it’s working the fields, with my grandfather, or raising cattle and growing vines. I’ve been harvesting grapes since I was a child. I grew up in this environment, and understood early on what wine could do, how it brought people together and inspired them, how it conveyed emotion and pleasure. You could say I’ve been training for a while.

Who is your mentor?

I’ve had several inspiring moments, especially when I started at Figeac. I was fortunate to meet Thierry Manoncourt, with whom I talked at length about his terroir and his vision of wine in general, not just at Figeac in fact, and I can say he has been a coach of sorts to me. My family, with its farming roots, also played that role. Other than that, for the day-to-day, I don’t really have a mentor. Working, gaining experience, constantly questioning myself – these are the things that help me progress.

Would you say that wine is a team sport?

Wine is completely a team sport. Even a great navigator trying to circumnavigate the globe needs a team to sail. The navigator stands at the helm, but they need other skills. That’s essential. Here, at Figeac, we have a great team. One I’m really happy with.

Was moving up a division hard for you (Château Figeac is now a Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru classé A, ed.)?

We had prepared and worked for it. We all knew challenges were going to arise when changing divisions. It’s also a point of pride, of satisfaction, knowing that Figeac has found its rightful place today. And for the Manoncourt family, it represents recognition of their work.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

The terroir, decidedly. You cannot make great wines without a good terroir. To that, you must add the savoir-faire and the team. The captain needs to rally the troops, defining the work objectives and what needs improving.

Are your parents proud of you?

Yes, of course my parents are proud of me. For a start, I chose the career I wanted early on in life. In my last years of secondary school, I took a special agricultural option, before eventually becoming an agricultural engineer. They always supported me. I think they are proud of me.

Who has been your biggest sponsor throughout your career?

The Figeac terroir. It is exceptional, very particular. It gives me the tools to succeed. And then, of course, the Manoncourt family, who trust me and have helped me grow on their estate.

Your favourite colour?

Green – I love green. It’s the colour of a healthy plant, one that is full of promise. It’s also the colour of hope, which one must always have.

Your favourite past season?

2022. It was the first vintage with Château Figeac’s new ranking, the first vintage made in our new cellars, with a previously unmatched level of precision at the estate. I really enjoyed 2022, with its exceptional, very particular climatic conditions. It was a real surprise and a source of satisfaction to have made this vintage.

Have you chemically enhanced your estate in the past?

Never, because that would be artificial, and goes against my work as a winemaker, which consists of finding the purest way of bottling the terroir of Château Figeac. There has never been any doping here.

In the industry, chemical enhancements are a recurring topic.

Absolutely, you can play around with these tricks. But in the long run, when you’re making age-worthy wines, 10 years down the line, all of this disappears and only the terroir remains – and the great wines. You can plaster make-up on things, but it all disappears in the bottle, and the truth always comes out.

As a great leader, have you had offers from other clubs?

People stopped making me offers when they realised how much I was thriving at the estate, and at a very competitive level.

Clearly, the club is not for sale?

The club is not for sale and no changes are in the works. Perhaps one of my qualities, not to seem self-centred, is my loyalty. Loyalty towards my teams and the Manoncourt family, both are essential to keep moving forward.

Now published: Wine Lister’s 2023 Wine Leagues

As 2023 draws to a close, Wine Lister has published the fourth of its annual Wine Leagues. The study explores this year’s top-performing wines and producers within a series of categories, informed by our annual trade survey of key industry players. It reveals exciting developments in the world of fine wine and shines a light on consumer trends and estates on the rise.

Read some key findings in our study digest below or download the full report for free here.


France’s 50 best winemakers: Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon of Champagne Louis Roederer

Cellar Master of the prestigious Champagne house: “In people and wine alike, it’s the shy ones that you need, not the loudmouths”.

Distinguished Cellar Master of a Champagne house that is mapping out the future for the entire Champagne region, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon is a resolutely hands-on winemaker. #4 in Le Figaro Vin’s rankings, the visionary winemaker reveals the philosophy behind his success.

Founded in 1776 by Mr. Dubois and his son, the Champagne house really started to flourish under Louis Roederer, who inherited the company in 1832. Rather than buying grapes, Roederer chose to buy vineyards, meticulously selecting the very best parcels. In 1876, his son, Louis Roederer II, created the first prestige cuvée Champagne, designed for Tsar Alexander II, to which he gave the name Cristal. Later, during the 1920s, Léon Olry Roederer led the Champagne house, and, upon his death, it passed to his wife Camille. Her grandson, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, assumed responsibility for the company in 1975, deciding to consolidate the vineyards. Headed since 2006 by Frédéric Rouzaud, the seventh generation of the family, the Louis Roederer Champagne House is today one of the foremost producers in the Champagne region, propelled by the inexpressibly brilliant Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Deputy Managing Director and Cellar Master since 1999.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: There are a lot of us winemaking champions around! Wine is a passion for me. I’m lucky to lead the life that I lead, to be able to follow the evolution of the vines and the grapes right up to the final product.

Have you been training for long?

Every year marks the start of a new training session, a new exercise. Each vintage, we have a new match to play and, each year, we have the chance to get it right or to get it wrong. If we do get it wrong, we have to work out why we’ve been less successful with certain elements, so that we can improve the following year. Our training begins with our very first vinification, but it’s a profession that you learn with experience. Each year, you refine your style a little further. It’s a process of improvement that takes a whole career.

Who are your mentors?

I have had several mentors. I’ll stick to my teachers, as, to be a great champion, you need to have been well schooled. Our generation is perhaps somewhat more spontaneous than previous generations, but I think that formal training plays an important part. Amongst others, I had Denis Dubourdieu, who taught me to know and understand the Bordeaux region, as did Jacques Boissenot. Instead of talking about “mentors”, I’d rather talk about the people that I have met along the way. You learn about grape-growing from travelling around, heading into the field to meet people who are at the forefront of innovation in their region. You must have no qualms about going to speak to them and learn from them; each person has their own precise experience which feeds into the whole.

Is winemaking a team sport?

It is clearly a team sport. At five o’clock in the morning, it’s my teams who head out into the vineyards. To be a good winemaker over the kinds of surfaces that we cover, I think you also need to be a good manager. You have to be able to identify the role of each person, find out what they are good at, and, above all, let them express that little bit extra, and give meaning to what they do. That’s really fundamental. It’s very much for that reason that I chose to go biodynamic a little over 20 years ago. It wasn’t to join the Rudolf Steiner school of thought (Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and pedagogue, was the founding father of biodynamic agriculture, ed.), which I still don’t understand to this day, but to give a certain freedom to my teams, to give them the power to play their part in this shared adventure. For that is exactly what this is, a shared adventure. Each stage in the process is important, and each person plays their part. So, yes, it is very much a team adventure, and that includes sales as well. It’s all very well to make good wine, but you also need to be able to get it distributed and sold. That’s very important too.

Has playing in the Premier League for so many years been difficult?

It is very demanding, yes. You have to keep on pushing – you have to be working on tomorrow’s Premier League today. You have to innovate again and again, without ever stopping.

What do you mean by that?

Wine goes through trends. There are some winemakers in today’s Premier League who will have disappeared tomorrow. In the wine industry, you need to be constantly innovating. That is what is so interesting in our profession: it’s about roots and tradition, but there’s also a great deal of innovation involved, as you need to be questioning what you are doing all the time. Sometimes, innovating is about reinforcing what you are already doing, but in a clearer, more effective way. My role as champion is, I think, to simplify. I have to make my teams’ work easier, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. I need to make things easier to understand, not complicate them. The more easily understandable things are, the more brilliantly they will be done by everyone.

What is the key to making a good wine: the players, the team captain, or the pitch?

It’s a whole combination. You need athletes – people with talent – and you need to get them to work together. It’s like blending wine. When you’re creating a blend, it’s not the strength of the individual personalities that counts – we know, when we taste wines individually, that a blend of the best wines is likely to make a good wine. The goal in creating a blend is to make a wine that is even greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not by blending champions together that you’ll make a champion – you need to find wines that are a little shy. The same thing applies when you’re creating a team: it’s the shy ones that you need, not the loudmouths, not the ones who have the most obvious talent. The shyer members of the team are often the facilitators, who bring the team together. Here, we return to the analogy of the football team: you need attackers and defenders, but also midfielders, who distribute the ball – it’s precisely this distribution of the ball which does all the work. That’s really important in a team. It’s for that reason that, both in my teams and in my wines, I consider the shy ones to be so important, as I know they are what will make the difference.

Have you had a good sponsor over all these years?

The Rouzaud family. I have been working for them for 35 years: I spent 16 years working with Jean-Claude, who hired me 35 years ago, and I have just finished my 16th year of working with Frédéric. The Rouzaud family is my sponsor and has given me the very best Champagne terroirs. They have given me Roederer and Cristal, and the chance to elevate them to an even higher level. They are my greatest sponsor.

What’s your favourite colour?

I have two favourite colours: white and blue. Why white? Because it’s the colour of chalk. Chalk represents purity and I always have this colour in mind when I’m blending. And blue? Because it’s the purity of the sky. I always imagine the white soil and the blue sky when I’m making Cristal. That’s what guides me, visually, at the blending stage.

What’s your favourite vintage?

I won’t call them my “favourite” vintages. They are, instead, watershed years: vintages which made me realise that I needed to change, ones in which I realised I wasn’t going in the right direction and needed to regain my bearings, or ones which taught me to be a better winemaker. 1996, 2002, 2012, and, I’d say, 2018 and 2019. They are all vintages which mark some kind of turning point for me. 1996 was the great revelation that the focus had to return to the grape-growing, even in Champagne. 2002 was the year when I really discovered climate change. There is something happening to our wines, which is not normal – or, at least, we are not working with the same material we were working with previously. 2012 is the halfway point in my conversion to organic and biodynamic methods – especially organic. It was a very difficult year. We had to work hard to keep the team together. We could have backed out and said that organic grape growing didn’t work, and then gone back to conventional methods. However, we did the opposite and accelerated our transition. For me, that was fundamental. And, in 2018 – more so than in 2019, in fact – it was the total transition to certified organic status for Domaine Cristal.

Have you ever chemically enhanced your vineyard?

Never. On the contrary, I think I’ve spent my career doing the very opposite. By distancing myself from chemical intervention with our switch to organic methods, I think I removed the chemical enhancement that was muddying the waters, so that each terroir can now express itself in all its glory once again.

Have you already had offers from other clubs?

Yes, of course. There have been numerous offers from other clubs in France and abroad. However, there’s a real bond of loyalty – and a real complicity – that has developed between the Rouzaud family and me.

Are you going to sign for another 10 seasons?

Yes, I’ll sign for another 10 seasons, without a second thought. In the Premier League!