Stephen Brook finds out how the new generation of energetic young winemakers in Bordeaux is rising to the daily challenges of managing the top estates...
Bordeaux’s Héloise, Vanessa and Yohann Aubert of Vignobles Aubert
From left to right: Vanessa and Héloise Aubert
The set-up at Vignobles Aubert is very different. The family’s prize possession is classed growth La Couspaude in St-Emilion, but it owns a total of 350ha in Bordeaux. With ownership in the hands of three brothers, the involvement of the next generation, the eighth, could have been a nightmare. Yet it has been brilliantly handled. One child of each brother today forms a troika: Vanessa, Héloïse, and Yohann.
The cousins have had impeccable training, being dispatched to different countries after their studies: Héloïse went to Morgenster in South Africa, Vanessa to Japan, Yohann to Mission Hill in the Okanagan. The formidable Héloïse breezily notes: ‘I studied viticulture and oenology, and have a degree in business studies and a master’s in agriculture.’
‘We three cousins are autonomous but of course we work together, too,’ she says. ‘The three brothers help us with the production of high-volume wines, which is an entirely different business from a grand cru classé. It’s a system that works well. We all have production responsibilities, but also take care of different markets. For example, Yohann makes the wine at La Couspaude and the St-Emilion satellite appellations, but also takes care of the American market, while I am the maître de chai for the satellites, but spend half my time in Paris taking care of the French, North European and Asian markets. The three brothers are still very much involved and we tend to meet up every two weeks or so.’ The Auberts have also bought land in Mendoza, but have yet to decide which cousin will be sent to get that business up and running.
‘It’s a huge advantage that each of us is involved in commerce as well as production,’ says Héloïse. ‘It means that when we’re selling our wines worldwide we really know what we’re talking about. And when we’re making the wines, we have a good idea about what consumers will be expecting. Too many properties just make wines and then tell their sales team to go out and sell them. Each of us combines the two professions.’