Feature Story

30 Under 30: Raphaël Bérèche | Winemaker, Champagne

The daughter of a château owner. A sommelier. A golfer. The son of a photographer…There’s a lot of young talent in the wine business, coming from different directions. These 30 are rising to the top.

We canvassed our colleagues in the world of wine to find the most creative and accomplished young talent in wine today. All of them are 30 years old or younger; some of them make wine, while others sell it. All of them are names to know: This is the next generation in wine.

One of the most prominent young winegrowers in Champagne, 29-year-old Raphaël Bérèche began working at his family’s estate, Bérèche et Fils, in 2004. Since then, he has helped to reshape the estate’s portfolio of wines, introducing several outstanding new cuvées that include the vintage-dated Instant Rosé No. 1 and the Vallvée de la Marne Rive Gauche, one of Champagne’s finest pinot meuniers.

While the family was already making excellent wines, now that both Raphaël and his younger brother, Vincent, are at the estate, they have the time and manpower to accomplish things that they couldn’t do before. For example, a greater percentage of the wines are now aged under cork rather than capsule, and dosage trials have become more extensive and exacting. Coupled with Raphaël’s relentless energy and pursuit of quality, these changes have brought greater clarity and individuality of expression to the estate’s wines. “He gives more dynamism to his family’s winery,” says Bérèche’s friend and fellow winegrower Benoît Tarlant. “He brings another dimension—a focus on Champagne as a wine rather than as just Champagne.”

Raphaël has also had a positive impact on the Champagne community, most notably with Terres et Vins de Champagne, a growers’ organization that he founded with Aurélien Laherte in 2009. The group’s annual tasting has quickly become the most important public wine event in the region and an emblem for the rise of a new generation of Champagne growers.

This feature appears in the print edition of Fall 2011.
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