Thousands of wine lovers, sommeliers and trade professionals across the world have benefited from Lenoir’s educational tools over the past four decades.
He was born into a winemaking family in Burgundy, and he often joked that he learned to taste as he learned to walk.
Lenoir was a paratrooper during the Algerian War, and he then pursued a career at the Maison de la Culture in Chalon-sur-Saône.
He was eventually promoted to assistant director, but he never lost his passion for wine, and he studied with Max Léglise at the Station oenologique de Bourgogne in his spare time.
Lenoir teamed up with esteemed sommelier Georges Pertuiset to exhibit French and international wines at the Maison de la Culture, educating visitors about the various olfactory and tasting notes they could discern.
In 1979, he received a vocational degree in oenology from Dijon University, and he began using a case containing 120 aromas typically found in wines to teach introductory courses throughout France.
Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri suggested that he turn his cases into a book, which inspired him to create Le Nez du Vin.
His friend Olivier Baussan, founder of L’Occitane, guided him through the initial stages of creating the olfactory kits.
‘My aim was to awaken a necessary sense of curiosity for odours in my readers and to help them recognise the aromas found in wine,’ said Lenoir when discussing his invention.
Le Nez du Vin launched in 1981, combining written educational notes with scent jars, and it proved popular with wine professionals and novices alike.
The main ‘Masterkit’ from Le Nez du Vin has been refined over the years, and it now features 54 different aromas, divided into fruit notes, floral notes, vegetal and spicy notes, animal notes and roasted notes.
Fifty-four index cards explain the link between aromas and wine, while an accompanying guidebook elaborates on how the 54 key aromas reflect grape varieties and vineyards in the New and Old Worlds.
It has expanded with aroma kits highlighting wine faults, oaks and much more, and Lenoir then branched out by launching Le Nez du Porto, Le Nez du Whisky, Le Nez de l’Armagnac, Le Nez du Bourbon and Le Nez du Cigare, among others.
The books and kits have been translated into several languages and sold tens of thousands of copies around the world.
Lenoir’s work will live on, with a dedicated team in Paris and Cassis working to promote Le Nez du Vin in various markets.
His daughter, Viva Lenoir, is the company’s business development manager for France, Northern Europe, the UK and the US.
She first tested aromas on her father’s lap and claims to have been baptised with Champagne, making her the perfect candidate to continue his life’s work alongside colleagues at Le Nez.