As Cellar Master for GH Mumm Champagne in France, winemaker Mariotti (44) preserves a legacy that dates back almost 200 years. “The emotions associated with Champagne make it the ideal drink for celebrations. It needs to balance intensity and freshness – after you’ve drunk a glass of Champagne, you should want to drink another one,” he says.
I started working in champagne nearly 20 years ago – I was very young then. When I moved to GH Mumm, the brand needed a revamp. I was able to redefine the rules, which was a great experience. My work primarily involves maintaining the spirit of the Cordon Rouge blend, which uses a lot of Pinot Noir. It’s also about knowing what people expect nowadays, while still respecting the sense and history of the house.
I myself am a blend of different countries. I was born in Switzerland and educated in Paris and the east of France, but my upbringing was on the French island of Corsica, which I still consider home. I go there five or six times a year for quiet family time. It’s very peaceful in winter and I love walking in the mountains.
Because I travel so frequently, I’m able to discover diverse cultures. I love travelling – it’s a way of keeping your mind open and connecting with different people. My objective isn’t to educate people on how to drink Champagne, but rather to understand why they love it. Perhaps South Africans don’t view Champagne the way people do in France or Asia, so it’s interesting to have these different countries in mind when creating new brews.
France has a wealth of winelands. I’d advise anyone wanting to do a wine trip there to go in spring or summer, as the winters are too cold. The whole of the Loire Valley is beautiful and castellated. There are good wines there which aren’t necessarily the most famous ones, but they have a rich history.
This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Sawubona, download your free copy.