Meet our talented Bordeaux winemaker, Delphine!
Wine lovers, welcome to Bordeaux! Around every corner in this city, you’ll find gorgeous green vineyards, expansive chateaus and talented wine-makers refining some of the best wines in the world.
We can’t wait to explore a variety of the area’s wines in our exclusive tasting with wine-maker Delphine Faure Maison and sommelier Chris Hoel. Each glass boasts different aromas, exceptional flavor palettes and a unique backstory behind the making of every bottle.
We’re already counting the days until our awesome tasting experience, so let’s meet Delphine, our awesome expert and a talented wine-maker responsible for making one of the wines we’ll be enjoying!
Her path to success
For six generations (over 150 years), the Faure family has owned and run the renown Château Belair Coubet. In 1985, Delphine Faure Maison took over the business from her father, and was one of the few females in the industry. Since then, she has independently grown the winery by over 80 hectares of vineyards across 10 different estates.
Before taking over the family business back home, she traveled internationally to gain wine-making experience in Piedmont, Italy and La Rioja, Spain.
Delphine, now one of the leading winemakers in the region, values sustainable cultivation practices and is known for her hands-on approach to winemaking. Each of her estates is HV3 certified, which is the highest level of certification for vineyards promoting biodiversity and sustainability.
We can brag about her awesome work all day, but she can tell you about her experiences herself! So, without further ado, here’s our exclusive Q & A with Delphine!
Q & A with Delphine
What makes Chateau Belair-Coubet and your wine so special?
I don't know what tomorrow will be like and the lack of certainty keeps us humble. We are indeed put to the test with each vintage, given successions of climatic issues. But it also comes with great moments of pleasure! My identity is to be a land worker where my wines must have a meaning and a purpose, from my plot work in the vineyard to the cellar and bottling. From the earth, to the vines, to the grapes, I listen, I compose, and I share.
We’ve learned you’re a world traveler as well, which we love! How did your travels influence your wine-making approach?
When I first started in the wine business, I was aware of the chance to evolve in one of the best terroirs in the world. However, I felt deeply for my intellectual and technical development the need to discover other wine regions of the world. So, I was lucky enough to be able to share the winemaking in Piedmont in Italy and in La Rioja in Spain. These two experiences have taught me a lot about my approach and my way of making wines. I definitely like the structure and elegance of Bordeaux, but I try to have melted tannins in my wines and I am looking for easy-drinking wines with a great aromatic expression.
We love the incredible family legacy of 6 generations – what are some of the key traditions or techniques that have been passed from generation to generation?
A sixth generation legacy is something I’m very proud of, but at the very same time is a huge responsibility for me. Especially as the first woman running the family Estate. You need to improve the quality of your wines, without changing the House style, which is like your signature.
I am proud to give life to wines, not by forgetting my past and tradition, but by listening and sharing new techniques. My family history, my great terroir imposes me a certain way of life and philosophy. All in all, this is really exciting and motivating on a daily basis.
When did you decide you wanted to take over the family business?
To be honest, it was more like a life opportunity. At age 15, a teacher oriented me toward agricultural and wine studies, as he sensed that I was very much passionate about the land and the vineyards. The more the years passed, the happier I felt in my choice of life. At the beginning, I worked with my father, and the transition was pretty natural. I never told myself that I was in charge of the Estate alone, as I respect the family spirit too much.
Can you share more about your sustainable and hands-on approach to wine-making?
For a long time, I have always thought that the elements of biodiversity (hedges, grass strips, trees, flowers, insects, etc.) are crucial and that is why they are very widely present and widespread on my Estate. The pressure of old agricultural practices on the Estates and the environment (air, climate, water, soil, biodiversity, landscapes) is reduced to a minimum. I am convinced that these ways of environment-friendly agriculture will be the standards from tomorrow. There will be no turning back whatsoever.
What do you love most about Bordeaux?
The nature is fantastic: The river, the diversity and complexity of the landscapes. Although there are many different vines, each plot and each terroir are different: the trees, the richness of shapes and tastes. Our area’s specialties are canelés, lamprey, entrecote on vine shoots.
Bordeaux is one of the most stunning cities in France along the river Garonne, located only 50 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and 2 hours and a half from the Pyrenees.
How has COVID impacted your business?
COVID was a great trauma at the beginning. We were afraid of extreme confinement. But, thanks to health measures and the flexibility of government decisions, we were able to adapt effectively. In terms of distribution and sales volumes, we had an almost record year thanks to exports, mail order sales and the great loyalty of our customers for our wines.
The only negative point will have been a recent unfortunate episode. We had 3 cases of COVID in early May. All of my staff had to be quarantined for more than 10 days. To remedy this problem, my parents, my two children and I managed all of the activity on our Estate during its very challenging and intense days, which is the best proof that being a family estate is meaningful.
Tell us more about the wine we’ll be tasting and its story. How did it come to be?
This 2018 vintage was a great but tough one. The vineyard had to endure an exceptionally long period of rain, from November to July (more than a year of rain fell in six and a half months). The situation was then radically reversed with a very hot and sunny summer. As the harvest approached, this good economic situation continued, with low rainfall which made it possible to harvest without urgency, “à la carte”, and a contrast between hot days and cool nights favorable to aromatic and phenolic concentration.
The only downside is a localized and dazzling hailstorm in May, which unfortunately caused significant crop losses here and there (about 20 hectares).
Was 2018 a good year, and how did it leave its mark on this wine?
In this 2018 vintage, rather small berries with thick, ripe skins released an impressive color. Thanks to the good weather from the end of July 2018, a beautiful maturity of the seeds, very brown (almost black), which bring during extraction, round tannins, guaranteeing freshness. Currently, the 2018 is developing very elegant aromatic expressions, faithful to the terroir. There is also strength and power, but the balance is so precise that this power is not aggressive.
What are some of your favorite childhood memories of your family being in the wine business?
The harvest when my mother prepared for eight hours during the day, cooking for the families of grape pickers (more than 50 people in total) for no less than 15 days. Every night, we gathered around big tables with Bel Air Coubet wines: singing and dancing till midnight.
I also loved assessing the density of the tanks every evening with my father during the harvest to monitor the fermentation tanks. This is very challenging and exciting to measure and see thievery first results of 1-year passionate work.
Or delivering the wines in Normandy with my father and meeting our customers. In a way, the first ambassadors for Bel Air Coubet.
Finally, bottling the wines to help parents during school holidays. The feeling to be part of the family business. My first great sensations!
TROVE travelers, we can’t wait for our exclusive wine tasting. Be sure to order your Summer Bordeaux Experience and exclusive 3-pack of wine for the tasting session, which includes a delicious wine from Delphine’s winery!