The Rebirth of Renowned Burgundian House
Opportunities to buy back historical family wine estates don’t often come around, but after 25 years Laurent Delaunay is once again making wine under the Edouard Delaunay name. After just three years of relaunch, Edouard Delaunay was the biggest success story at the International Wine Challenge 2020.
Owner Laurent Delaunay could hardly believe the news when he found out saying, “This is massive! It is such amazing recognition for our wines and all the hard work and determination of the entire team at Edouard Delaunay in making this project a success. It also shows that even a very traditional region like Burgundy is ready to change and to do things a bit differently.”
He continued, “My grandfather used to say that the House of Edouard Delaunay was ‘the smallest of the great Houses’. And for many years it has been my ambition to honour my family’s legacy by returning it to its former glory and making Edouard Delaunay a leading Burgundian wine house once more, focused on excellence and high-end wines mainly from the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.”
RECONSTRUCTING THE PAST
This meteoric success story began in 2017 when Laurent Delaunay bought back his great grandfather’s winery in the Hautes-côtes de Nuits, a subregion of the Burgundy wine region located to the west of the Côte de Nuits subregion. It was Edouard Delaunay, a visionary, who, in 1893, settled his family and anchored his ambition in this viticultural region. He played a major role in the development of the Burgundian wine region and become one of the leading houses in Burgundy with prestigious international distribution.
This project was something Laurent Delaunay had wanted to do for years, ever since his family had to part with the winery in the early 90s and he had left his beloved Burgundy to start Badet Clément with his wife Catherine and make branded wines in his second home, the Languedoc. He set about a complete renovation of the family’s historic winery and cellars, including the means to vinify and age his wines with great precision and respect for the grapes by keeping interventions to a strict minimum.
After the extensive refurbishment of the winery, Laurent was blessed with the help of grower friends and family in the region. To help with the re-establishment of the historic winery, Badet Clément’s DVP (Domaine & Vins de Propriété), one of the largest specialists in distributing Domaine wines in Burgundy gave him access to an incomparable network, especially for grape sourcing.
He then recruited Christophe Briotet, a talented young Burgundian winemaker with great experience, including five years as chief winemaker at the school of viticulture in Beaune. Christophe shared his winemaking philosophy of purity and precision and had recently been crowned the IWC’S Red Winemaker of the Year. Together, they would embark on this monumental project.
Since the relaunch, both the 2017 and 2018 Edouard Delaunay wines have received exceptional scores and reviews from many of the world’s top wine critics and Burgundy specialists. Their impressive list of accolades has come from internationally renowned wine experts including Jancis Robinson, James Suckling, Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Jasper Morris MW, Sarah Marsh MW, Neil Beckett and Michel Bettane.
The newly launched Edouard Delaunay wines which are designed for the premium on-trade and independents completely smashed it across all 3 of the big international wine competitions. However, it was in the International Wine Challenge (IWC) where they really stood out. The estate won eight trophies, including the Burgundy Trophy, French Red Trophy, and the International Pinot Noir Trophy, as well as the Red Winemaker of the Year for Christophe Briotet, and 15 gold, 30 silver and 7 bronze medals.
Laurent Delaunay says “I would never have dreamt that the very first wines we’ve created at Edouard Delaunay would have been so successful in the first year of my ‘grand projet’ to return Edouard Delaunay to being one of the leading houses in Burgundy.” He continues, “This project is so personal and dear to my heart which makes this incredible early success even more meaningful.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Regarding the future, Laurent Delaunay says, “After we have finished celebrating our success which might take some time! We will start to propose our 2019 wines en primeur and then we have two main aims for 2021. The first, to explore the higher altitude vineyards of the Hautes-côtes de Nuits, where our winery is located, which seems like it could provide a very interesting answer in the future to the issues of climate change.”
Laurent continues, “And our main objective for 2021 is Chablis, where we have started a new joint venture to launch a range of contemporary wines with a modern but strong personality featuring, with precision, the cool climate and stony, mineral, character of the Chablis wines which are so distinctive.” He concludes, “And finally we have leased our first vineyards this year in Pommard, in the Côtes de Beaune which is the next step in our plan to eventually purchase some Burgundian vineyards of our own.”
In addition, Laurent Delaunay, who is a member of the association to protect the Abbey of Saint-vivant and the UNESCO World Heritage Climats, both at the heart of Burgundian viticulture, wants to offer amateur wine enthusiasts a complete immersion into Burgundy wine culture when they purchase Edouard Delaunay wines. This will be done through packaging, tailor-made services, a personalized welcome, a wine club so that Edouard Delaunay becomes their guide to discovering Burgundy.
“We want to create a direct relationship with consumers who are interested in Burgundy wines and give them a real introduction into the region; its culture, philosophy, vineyards, art de vivre… the things which inspire wine enthusiasts, but which often remain out of reach because of the Burgundy’s exclusivity.”
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