France Wine

By the glass: Catherine Delaunay of Les Jamelles

Catherine Delaunay, the dynamic winemaker behind Les Jamelles, opens up about her other passion - beekeeping, an exotic pineapple wine and the wine she would pick for US president Donald Trump. 

Since 1995, Les Jamelles has been produced by Catherine and Laurent Delaunay, two winemakers from Burgundy. The brand focuses on producing varietal wines in Languedoc, and today it bottles over 20 different varietals from Cabernet, Merlot to Viognier, Cinsault and Vermentino. Catherine Delaunay is the winemaker behind this expansive Languedoc estate. Coming from a winemaking family, she further honed her winemaking skills in California early on before joining Les Jamelles to oversee its wine production. She’s among a few female winemakers working today in Languedoc, and is lauded for her blending skills. In this interview, the dynamic winemaker opens up about her other passion – beekeeping, an exotic pineapple wine and the wine she would pick for US president Donald Trump. 

catherine les jamelles

How many years have you been aged so far?

My vintage is a great one:  1964.  I leave it to  you to  guess my age.

What led you to wine?

I have always been immersed in the world of wine, as I come from a family of Beaujolais winegrowers (5th generation). Passionate about wine and wine tasting, it is only natural that I studied oenology at the University of Dijon where I met my husband Laurent Delaunay, who comes from a well- established family owned  Burgundian Maison.

What’s your pet peeves about wine?

I do not like wines that are lacking precision, balance, finesse (such as with  over extracted tannins, rough or unripened tannins) .  This is why with Les Jamelles, I have always sought to create easy-drinking wines that are authentic, pleasing, expressive, with lovely length and nice freshness. I like my wines to feature perfect balance between roundness and acidity.

Describe what’s an alcohol-free day like for you?

I am a passionate winemaker, wine creator and oenologist who taste on average over 100 wines on a daily basis.  Tasting to discover new wines or create great blends for Les Jamelles is one of the highlights and drivers when I work. A day without tasting wines would be very dull.  Even on a day off or on holidays, I would still miss sipping a great glass of wine. 

What’s your secret passion?

Even if it’s not a secret, not many people know that I am an amateur beekeeper. This is a passion that my father passed on to me. It explains why there is a bee on some of our labels like our Clair de Gris Les Jamelles.

What kind of wines are in your wine fridge?

I am very open when it comes to origin, type or style of wines. I like very much to have at all time a broad range of wines that will match the mood, moments, or friends with whom I would share a bottle. In a nutshell, I have a wine cellar that  is well stocked with  French wines from  all regions  and a narrower collection from other countries  (mostly Australians, Californians and some Italians among others)

What’s the weirdest wine you’ve tasted so far that you actually liked?

A pineapple wine on the island of Moorea Tahiti French Polynesia.

If you can recommend one wine to any leader in the world, who would it be and what would you recommend?

I would dare to recommend to the current US President a glass of our Pinot Noir Les Jamelles. This is our best-selling wine in the US and somehow I see its style as a meeting point between the two countries. It is obviously very French, fresh, elegant with chiselled tannins, but also richer and fruitier than many Bourgogne Pinot Noir for example. The Pinot Noir Les Jamelles is thus accessible and refined at the same time. 

I like to imagine the encounters that take place all around the world over a glass of Les Jamelles wine… and telling myself that our wines create connections between people.

If you can drink any wine in the world, which wine would you like to have?

Probably a wine from Burgundy and more specifically made by the late Henri Jaillet.  I have not yet had the opportunity to taste its wine while he was still among us. Now that he left us, his wines have become very rare and extremely expensive. Nowadays, only a handful of lucky ones have the chance to taste his wines. 

If you are a wine, how would you imagine your tasting note would be like?

I would probably be a rounded red wine, with perfect maturity although not the youngest vintage, with excellent balance and at its fullness.  An expressive bouquet made up of complex scents while having retained a touch of freshness, fruitiness and floral note. On the palate, a nice balance between intensity and freshness, with rounded silky tannins. Long length thanks to a touch of minerality that would reflect my deep rooted connections to the earth. 

What makes you happy?

A lunch with close friends in the South of France  under the shade of a pine tree, facing the Mediterranean sea and sharing a glass of Clair De Rosé  or Mourvèdre Rosé Les Jamelles.

If you can only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ohhhh!  Life will be so boring if there was only one wine left to drink during the remaining of my entire life.  I just love experiencing different pleasures depending on encounters or shared moments. I just cannot imagine such prospect. There is still too many wines  to discover!

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