“Learn the rules as a professional, so you can break them as an artist”

Interview

August, 18th 2020, Marinela Ardelean

In all these years exploring wineries worldwide, the best private visit I’ve ever received was delivered by Caroline Brun at Maison Bollinger. At the time, I was preparing for the Ambassadeur du Champagne competition in Italy, and Caroline’s tour stood out as a refreshing and inspiring marriage of expertise and passion, of knowledge and emotion

Since then, we have stayed in touch, and recently, I had a great talk with her about inspiration, women in wine, and innovative communication.

What’s the secret? Excel in science; embrace the emotions. Before anything else, Caroline says, “You have to master, I mean really master your subject to be a great guide who gives much more than any basic information which you can find in books, and putting your own soul and heart in the presentation makes a real difference.” Hard work is the start of everything, but in wine-making as in wine-sharing, it’s the passion that makes the difference.

In order to be truly remarkable, a wine has to mix science and emotion. “Otherwise, it’s just a well-made wine.” In this perspective, wine communication should be emotional too. Otherwise, we’d be missing half the story! Wine communications are typically so focused on the product itself that they forget all the important sensations around. The emotions that went behind it, consumer`s emotions, everything that happens to people when they experience the wine. The science is so rich and fascinating that it automatically focuses on information and education, instead of perceptions and emotions.

Sure, it isn’t that easy this way because it takes a lot of tact! A lot of testing out the borders between vulnerability and assertiveness, a dance between objectivity and subjectivity… Caroline has mastered it.

Thinking back on our visit, Caroline reminded me that wine is an art form too. That is a full experience, a “gesamtkunstwerk” (a “total work of art”) of sorts. The smell of the soil, the color of the wine, the aging process, the acidity… An explosion of senses. Part mechanics, part feelings. When you look at wine this way, it puts a greater responsibility on the viewer/taster in how they are receiving and interpreting the others` work. We as wine “experts” become more like curators and translators, here to gently enable others to have their own sensations, and give them all the tools possible to achieve an aesthetic experience. And I mean aesthetics in the most authentically way: as the philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and sensory-emotional experience. So many senses are involved in making and tasting wine – it seems obvious to use them all in communications too.

Bringing to life the aesthetic side of Champagne, Caroline – a painter herself – is keen to quote Picasso “Learn the rules as a professional, so that you can break them as an artist”.

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