New Generation Winemaker #2 : Mathilde Margaine

Nov 23, 2020 • 5 mins
Digital & Sales Manager

Champagne is being rejuvenated! For a few years now, we have been seeing a transition to the next generation: now young adults, the kids are becoming more and more involved in the management of the family wine domaines. Eco-conscious and possessing greater marketing and social media savvy... Make way for the new generation!

For this second episode of "New Generation Winemaker", we head to Villers-Marmery to meet Mathilde Margaine, a super-dynamic wine producer and digital whizz who joined the family domaine in 2018.

Inheriting a passion

Located in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne Margaine is a domaine like no other. It is almost exclusively planted with the Chardonnay grape variety which already sets it apart from its neighbours, who are keener on the Pinot Noir. The tone is set: this is an unusual family. Mathilde represents the fifth generation. Involved in the work of the domaine for as long as she can remember, she has inherited her father's passion and taste for hard work.

My brother and I have always been immersed in this universe of wine. When we were still very young, my father taught us how to taste wine by way of a game: we had to smell the wines and identify their aromas. We were always allowed to put our noses over the glasses!
Mathilde Margaine

It seemed obvious to her from the outset that she would one day take over the family domaine. But until then, Mathilde was thirsty for knowledge so she decided to go off and get some work experience under her belt.

A taste for learning

After her baccalaureate, Mathilde studied at a business school and went off to the Netherlands and Australia before returning to France, where she embarked on a Master's degree in International Wine Commerce in Dijon.

My father is a producer who's very attached to his land. He had already had some commercial successes, particularly on the export markets, but he has always preferred to work with the vines and the wine. It was therefore important for me to bring this commercial and international aspect to the domaine.
Mathilde Margaine

Mathilde’s career took off while she was enjoying a drink in a Reims bar. There she met Godefroy Baijot, the export director at the Besserat de Bellefon Champagne House, who offered her an internship. See how you can connect over a glass of wine?! This meeting took her to the U.S., where she worked as the Besserat de Bellfon Brand Ambassador for a year, before returning to her roots in Villers-Marmery.

Back in Champagne, Mathilde devoted a lot of time to learning and perfecting the technical side of the craft, an equally important part of her job.

Vineyards, terroir, the behaviour of the vine and wine... I wanted to completely master my subject. It's very important to me, I don't want to be the kind of producer who is never seen in her vineyards.
Mathilde Margaine

Winemaker and digital whizz

But Mathilde didn't leave it at that, she then turned her attention to the communication side of the business with the redesign of the website and the creation of a social media following. "I want to talk about the domaine and the wines in a straightforward, uncomplicated and entertaining manner," she explains.

And there is no doubt she has the knack! Video presentations of the wines, live tastings and challenges between her winemaker friends on Instagram*, Mathilde perfectly represents this cool, connected generation of wine producers. She presents her profession in an authentic and slightly offbeat way.

I want people to have an image of this profession that’s cool, fun and approachable. It really is a great profession. But I don't want to hide from my consumers the fact that it can be difficult at times: the work is hard, but you can't give up. That's also part and parcel of being a wine producer and we mustn't lose sight of that.
Mathilde Margaine

*If you fancy a little sports session at home, it’s worth checking out Mathilde’s Artisan's Challenge video posted on her account: @mathildemargaine.

Emotion and shared enjoyment

Mathilde granted us a quick interview in which she told us about what excites her in a wine. This wine lover likes to enjoy life and every moment she spends sharing a glass or two of champagne.

What type of Champagne Lover are you?

I'm an epicurean: I like good food, good wine and good friends. We wine producers work long hours every day and it's not always easy. So, at the end of the day, all we want to do is to give pleasure and enjoy ourselves.

What dish would you pair with your favourite Margaine champagne?

Our wines have a somewhat taut and feminine character and they therefore go very well with fish. Being a big sushi fan, I really like to enjoy some sushi paired with the Cuvée M which I have permanently on hand. Simple and does the job!

When is your perfect time to enjoy a glass of champagne?

I love sunsets, and there are many beautiful locations from which to watch them in the Champagne region. So, I'd say with friends, watching the sun go down.

Where is your favourite place to watch a sunset?

The Verzenay lighthouse!

What things excite you in a wine?

What I like when I meet a producer is primarily the story behind his or her wine. That's what makes it even more interesting, beyond the work carried out. For example, I was very excited when I visited Domaine Pommier in Chablis. They had built their vatroom from scratch. I'm one of the young generation of producers who have inherited an ongoing family concern, so I'm very impressed by the drive of those who do fantastic things all on their own.

Is there a particular wine producer you enjoy talking to?

In Champagne, I love François Huré, who always gives very good advice. I love his way of seeing things: wine is first of all pleasure, a moment of shared enjoyment and happiness. That’s something I want to cultivate on my domaine too.

Where are we likely to bump into you?

In Chigny les Roses, at the Couvert de Vignes (my friends Benjamin and Virginie's restaurant) or at the Glue Pot in Reims, I’m there quite often!

The new generation of winegrowers is certainly bringing a breath of fresh air to the Champagne region. It is a generation full of ideas and resources, always ready to innovate and challenge itself. A generation worth following...