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At one time, not that long ago Chapoutier, today one of the Rhône Valley's big-name négociants and most successful wine empires, was nothing more than a failing family enterprise, heavily in debt. That the business survived through to today is due solely to the efforts of one Chapoutier scion, Michel, who bought out all his siblings, cousins, maiden aunts and other family members who held shares. With full and complete control of the business (bringing, it should be noted, all the risk and responsibility as well as all the potential rewards) he then set to work turning things around. And not only did the business survive, it thrived. It must have been a tremendous uphill struggle for Michel at first, who was only 26 years old when he took the reins; but when I met him in May 2011 - sadly the first time I have come face-to-face with the man, now 47 years old - it was perhaps apparent why he succeeded. Indeed, why it was perhaps inevitable that he would succeed. If the energy emitted by Michel in one day could be harnessed and fed into France's national grid, the government could decommission one of their more aged nuclear power stations in an instant. And the non-nuclear power lies in their Fines (Brandies) and Marcs (Pomace brandy/grappa) which were forgotten or ignored for so long by the public that one can access and admire 25 or 50 year old beauties showing off their Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Shiraz reminiscences .

Marc Chapoutier

  • France

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