Tributes have been made to Jean-Pierre Mareigner, cellar master at Champagne Gosset for more than 30 years, who has died aged 60 after a short illness.
Champagne Gosset, founded in 1584, announced Mareigner’s death ‘with great sadness and regret’, adding that he had been planning to retire next January.
‘For the past 33 years, as cellar master of Gosset, he has been the creator of the highly renowned cuvées of the maison, the oldest wine house in Champagne, from his home town of Aÿ,’ the company said.
‘Our cellars are full of his work and will remind us of him for a very long time.’
Jean-Pierre Mareigner was born in February 1956 in Aÿ, Gosset’s historic base, and spent time in the Gosset cellars from an early age – his father Pierre was the house’s vineyard director for 15 years.
After studying viticulture and winemaking at Beaune, Mareigner taught viticulture in Champagne for several years before joining Gosset.
Peter McKinley, Gosset’s UK importer through McKinley Vintners for 30 years until a switch to Louis Latour Agencies last year, first met Mareigner, with the late Etienne Gosset, 35 years ago.
‘He knew how to select the best grapes, the best juice and he knew the people who grew the best grapes,’ McKinley said. ‘He once said his job was more like painting: “I’ve got a palette full of colours with all these tanks.”
‘I think he really was a bit of an artist – not the sort of person who enjoyed commercial pressure, he just enjoyed the business of making bloody good Champagne.’
McKinley said Mareigner’s expertise was reflected in the ‘consistency of quality’ of the non-vintage cuvées, and the ‘absolute top-end quality’ of the vintage wines – a job made all the more challenging by Gosset’s minimal use of malolactic fermentation. ‘That just proved that he was one of the very best,’ he said.
‘The seriously sad thing for Gosset Champagne is that Jean-Pierre was the family memory, the company memory. He’s been there longer than anybody else and making the Champagne longer than anybody else.’
Odilon de Varine, Champagne Gosset’s general manager and director of production, said succession planning had been in the advanced stages.
‘Jean-Pierre had been planning very carefully for his retirement next year and had gathered a highly competent team around him over the last few years, but we regret hugely that we have lost him far sooner than we would have wished. We will take great care to maintain his great legacy to us and continue his excellent work.’