Permanent changes to the Champagne Bollinger team were at last announced late yesterday after chef de cave Mathieu Kauffmann announced his departure some time ago. CEO Jérôme Philipon announces that he is to be succeeded by his old deputy Gilles Descôtes (pictured), who has been on the Bollinger team for 10 years. He has been a member of Bollinger's tasting committee for all that time and has long had responsibility for many of the production requirements.
Gilles Descôtes, 47, is an agronomy engineer (a graduate of AgroParisTech) and oenologist. He joined Champagne Bollinger in May 2003 as assistant production director becoming director of vineyards and supply two years later. Having particularly good relationships with the workforce, he was made technical director almost a year ago and has effectively been in charge of production for some time.
Denis Brunner, 33, will join Bollinger as Descôtes' deputy in September from the CIVC. Brunner has worked on the technical side of the CIVC for the last 10 years, tasting for an hour or two a day and being responsible for answering many of Champagne's major technical challenges, especially the sustainable viticulture initiative and the quality of vins clairs.
Mathieu Kauffmann started his working life in Germany and with his Chilean wife has long been keen to expose their children to German life. He is set to join the team at the Pfalz estate von Buhl, leased to Japanese wine importer and retailer Tokuoka of Osaka. I did not include von Buhl in my recent article about hands-off Japanese winery ownership because I noted that von Buhl's female oenologist was a member of the Tokuoka family.