Gaelle Goossens is not just a gorgeous woman but a passionate and talented winemaker who is changing the perception of all females in a male-dominated industry. Having been at the core of industry for many years, her accomplishments are a product of hard work and perseverance. Believing that science and art are the two major ingredients to a successful creation of wine, the inspirational Gaelle is set to appear as a guest at the Women of Wine Festival in Hong Kong.
How did you get started in wine?
Unconsciously, from the very beginning of my life! I was born and raised in the Champagne region and I have always been surrounded by vineyards as my Grandmother was a grape grower. But, I purely got started in wine when I quit my first job and degree in politics to entirely live my passion for wine in 2007.
Do you have a degree in winemaking?
Yes. It is actually very difficult in France to work in this industry without any degree. I started with an undergraduate of Biochemistry and Biology and then enrolled in a School of Oenology (Diplome National D’Oenologue) to achieve a postgraduate. To be a winemaker in France, you need a five-year degree in sciences specializing in Oenology.
What is your winemaking style?
It’s either I need the wine I drink or I create to express something! Wine is all about emotions. Life is too short to drink boring wines anyway. But, being precise, distinguishable and expressive is really challenging for a winemaker. Today, too many wines are expressive but also very messy.
What has surprised you most about being a winemaker?
We have been working for centuries with empiricism. Every single day is a new opportunity to learn something different. The science of oenology is a broad and wide territory with many undiscovered pieces of land. That’s fascinating to me.
What do you find to be the hardest part of the harvest?
The unpredictability of mother nature. All your efforts can be ruined in a single day or night because of a heavy rain, bad storm or large hail.
In the world of Champagne, who do you most admire and why? Who has influenced you?
I have borrowed positive aspects of several people that I keep secret and drawn my own fantasy champagne hero.
What is it like to work at one of the most famous Champagne houses in the world? How does the history and story of Barbe-Nicole influence and inspire you?
I feel blessed and challenged at the same time. Veuve Clicquot has a strong history of avant-garde and excellence. We need to understand and continue the spirit of our previous counterparts but not only that we need to be audacious and visionary as well. The story of Barbe-Nicole still resounds in the corridors here in Reims and we must think about after tomorrow.
Do you any tips for those interested in studying Wine and Champagne? What are top things you should know?
- Be Passionate.
- Be sure to be 100% keen on wine. Your job does not end when you leave the office.
- Be a hard worker.
- Be patient. This job is a very long journey. You never stop learning. Experience is a key.
- Be Scien-tistic. Be sure to be half scientific and half artistic. That’s a great mix!
What is one of the most rewarding things about your job?
When people express emotions drinking our wines.
Do you have a favorite wine or vintage that you have made?
This is the frustrating part of my job. Champagne needs time to mature sometimes even decades and thus I especially enjoy old champagnes. I am expecting a lot from the 2015, it’s a very promising vintage for us. Although, I still have to wait many years to taste it.
What wines do you find inspiration from?
Those that are elegant, complex and expressive at the same time.
What Champagne do you drink when you are not drinking your own?
I try to taste as many kind of champagnes as I can. From small producers to cooperatives and houses, I like to understand how others work. But, I often drink outside champagne as well. I am a very big lover of Côtes Roties and Syrah.
When: 6:00pm–9:30pm, Thursday, March 1
Where: The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong
How much: General admission HKD $450; premium access HKD $780; full package HKD $950