An insight from a young female wine maker - Caroline Fiot of Ruinart.
I'm sure most of our members have met Caroline at our dinners and events, but for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, Caroline Fiot is a trailblazing young female wine maker for Maison Ruinart, and an inspiring icon within the Champagne industry. I wanted to dive deeper into her passions, introduction to the trade and her connection with the Champagne Academy - I do hope you enjoy getting to know her a little more!
Q - How did you first get into wine making?
Caroline - I was driven by my passion for chemistry and biology. I hesitated between wine and fragrance, and ultimately chose to study Agricultural Science and Agronomy at Montpellier SupAgro, with a specialization in viticulture and wine making. I found myself very motivated by the idea of nature, of terroir but also the values the wine industry reflects, especially those of sharing, tradition and at the same time innovation.
I first put my studies to practice in the appellation of Saint Emilion Grand Cru within a small family winery, who encouraged me to become a winemaker. I held several positions at Baron Philippe de Rothschild, in Bordeaux, Vietnam and the US. To round out my education, I enrolled at ESSEC Business School in Paris where I graduated with an Advanced Master’s degree in Marketing and Luxury. I joined Maison Ruinart in 2016 as a winemaker under Cellarmaster Frédéric Panaïotis, my first job. At Ruinart, I oversee the fermentation during harvest, and I am part of the Tasting Committee. Moreover, I lead a series of Research and Development projects.
Q - What is your 'go to' style of Champagne?
Caroline - Being a winemaker for over four years now at Ruinart obviously influences my palate. I am very into Champagnes displaying more likely a “reductive” style, and especially the Chardonnay driven style. I love the aromatic purity of the Grands Crus of Chardonnay.
Q - Being a wine maker at Ruinart as a young woman is incredibly inspiring. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Caroline - It is impossible to predict where I will be tomorrow, especially when we see how fast the world changes and evolves, especially given the current context we need to face with. What I know now is my strong motivation to learn more and to never stay in my comfort zone.
Q - What do you suggest for those thinking of studying wine making?
Caroline - Jumping into the wine making studies requires passion and curiosity. I would recommend not to hesitate to contact and meet the winegrowers and winemakers to understand more about their philosophy and wine style. They will always be happy to share their passion about this product that is between science and art.
Q - What would you say is the most challenging aspect of being a wine maker?
Caroline - I would say the climate. Each vintage is different, and you must adapt with what nature gives you every year, for better or for worse. Nature is the best path of humility.
Q - What is your favourite part of the growing season?
Caroline - I have two favorite parts of the year that are bud break signing the birth of a new vintage and harvest time which is always a fantastic human adventure.
Q - Do you get involved in the vineyard at all?
Caroline - I am most of the time working in the winery like the other winemakers of the team. We are staying closely in contact with our chief of viticulture throughout the year. My missions include experimentation of micro vinification on a clonal selection purpose. It enables me to work in the vineyard to follow some parcels, especially during the ripening controls.
Q - What do you enjoy the most about being involved within the Champagne Academy?
Caroline - What I like about the Champagne Academy is the spirit of the association. We feel like we are belonging to a big family. Additionally, this is the only course where you see 16 Grandes Marques of Champagne working altogether to provide you with the deepest secrets of Champagne in the making and the philosophy of the Champagne region.
Q - What is your most fond memory of the Champagne Academy so far?
Caroline - I have many great memories, but I think I will always remember 2019 as the Presidential year for Ruinart and the whole organization we had to handle with the Ruinart team. It was so intense, so fulfilling, putting the emphasis on so many months of work to prepare the week in Champagne for the future Academicians. I take this opportunity to thank again all the other Houses who gave us a lot of support during this Presidential year. Overall, I sincerely appreciate the moments we share together at each edition of the Champagne Academy.
Q - What was the most memorable food and wine pairing from the 2019 dinners you attended?
Caroline - I really enjoyed the pairing Zuppa de pesce with white wine cream sauce with Dom Ruinart 2007 during the Annual dinner in London at the Bulgari Hotel. It matched perfectly with the silky texture of the wine!
Thank you Caroline for letting the Academy into your fabulous world and we look forward to seeing you at our next events!