Delaunay outlines vision for family estate

Laurent Delaunay, head of négociant house Badet Clément, has outlined further the plans for his recently reacquired family domaine in Burgundy, ‘Edouard Delaunay’.

The Château de Charmont

Delaunay announced last month that he had reacquired his family estate from the Boisset family in 2017 and that he was relaunching the brand this February.

Speaking to the drinks business at Wine Paris, Delaunay said that the chance to buy back the domaine (which his father sold in the early 1990s) had “always been a dream”.

His company, Badet Clément, has invested extensively in the south of France over the past few decades but he continued he had always kept numerous contacts in Burgundy and had continued living there.

Delaunay said that one day he had simply asked Jean-Claude Boisset if he would ever sell the domaine name and châteu back and “he [Boisset] accepted immediately”.

At the same time, “by coincidence”, the old cellars and winery which had been sold to another company also came up for sale so very quickly he was able to assemble the original framework of the estate.

The only thing that was missing were vineyards as Boisset retained the 13 hectares that used to belong to the domaine.

Delaunay said it was another “dream to buy some of our own vineyards,” but conceded that in Burgundy today such a desire was, “very difficult and expensive but we’re looking at opportunities and if a good one arrives we’ll take it.”

As such, all the grapes have been sourced through contracts, which Delaunay said had been the hardest part of the whole project.

‘Everything else is just finance and investing,” he said (and €1.5 million has so far been invested in the winery), “but grape contracts is all about personal relations.”

Luckily, he went on, there were a number of existing connections which allowed for some quick agreements and then the return of the family apparently prompted other growers to approach him and offer fruit from climats which are otherwise extremely hard to source.

“The range we built in two years I would never have dreamed of before,” he said.

The range currently stands at 25 wines from the Côte de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits covering Villages to Grands Crus and another four wines under the broader ‘regional appellations’ in Burgundy: Bourgogne rouge and blanc and Côte d’Or Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

As well as a Nuits-Saint-Georges village wine there are three premiers crus from the Nuits with Delaunay saying he wanted to have a “focus” on the appellation because it was “our village” – the old family house being in the Hauts Côtes de Nuits.

But he added he was most pleased to have tracked down parcels of Montrachet and Griotte-Chambertin which are extremely hard to source and the latter in particular was his father’s favourite.

In total the domaine works with five grands crus, rising to seven for the 2018 vintage.

In terms of distribution Delaunay said there was still much to put in place. He said he had 10 key markets in mind including the UK, US and China.

In the UK he wanted to aim at the high-end on-trade and very select retail outlets as well as fine wine specialists to take small allocations for private customers.

The US, he said, would not be a huge focus as many Burgundian houses were already well established there which made “profitability difficult”.

In China, however, a deal had already been struck with a company that’s a Burgundy specialist there and will sell largely to private customers.

And this market in particular, Delaunay continued, was the sort he wanted to capture for the next stage of the redevelopment of the estate.

Although the winemaking philosophy of the estate was very much Burgundian, he said, when it came to marketing, “we took more inspiration from Champagne, they pay attention to their customers, the packaging the service and so on.”

The goal, still in a planning and development stage has to how exactly it will be done, is to make the estate’s customers (particularly collectors) the sense they are “part of a venture”.

This may take the form of a wine club as exists in Napa, a guest house has also been mooted as have a series of programmes to help introduce people to what is to outsiders a very exclusive and often daunting region – “such as a weekend at the Hospices sale,” Delaunay suggested.

This is where the Chinese market comes in, with Delaunay noting that they are the, “type of client who wants to know more about Burgundy and who find it the most difficult [to get access].”

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