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Q&A: Margaux Pariente

The ambassador for her family's Chateau Troplong Mondot, in St Emilion, Bordeaux, talks about learning to love wine, why she left the lab and the importance of sharing

 

How did growing up in a winemaking family influence you? "I didn't like wine when I was a kid. Of course this changed as I grew up. [My childhood] was quite exciting as my parents live on the estate. It's a family house. We're used to having people from all over the world join us for lunch and dinner. It was always great to share new experiences, to meet people and to share wine and my mother's cooking. She's a great cook. It helped me develop an open mind about the world and people."

When did you start to appreciate wine? "As a teenager. My parents always made me try it - just a sip at a time - and my palate developed that way. For my 18th birthday, my parents asked what I wanted to drink and I was a bit arrogant; I said I'd like a Petrus '82. And they actually had some Petrus '82 in their cellar. So they opened a bottle of it and, of course, it was fantastic. I remember liking it and being impressed by the composition of the aromas. My parents were describing the wine and I could smell and taste the things they were saying. It's a very precise and complex wine. It really blew my mind - it was my first big experience."

What made you want to join the family business? "I'm a scientist. I did a master's degree in biochemistry and another in environmental law. My studies were about sustainability. I did many things before joining my family. I worked in the gas industry for BP and for a trading company, which sent me to West Africa to help cocoa farmers get certifications. But I quickly realised that I didn't want to be in the lab. Then my parents asked me to join them and be the ambassador for Troplong Mondot. I thought we're very lucky to have this vineyard - I get to meet lots of people, go to the best hotels in the world, go to the best restaurants and drink some of the best wines. So, here I am."

Have you made many changes at the chateau? "I have but not in the winemaking process, as I'm still learning. After I joined the business, in 2010, I asked my parents to open the chateau, to make the vineyard available to the public. So, we created a bed and breakfast. We have three rooms - very small - but it's all about the family atmosphere, and it's very exclusive. It's a bit sad how many vineyards in Bordeaux are closed to the public. I don't think that's the right thing to do. As we're a family owned estate and my parents live on the site, it's very easy for us. It's been like this since I was a kid - I can't remember a single day without a guest. We like to have people visit, we like to share."

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