Axelle Araud, Moet & Chandon's talented brand ambassador was in New Zealand last week. Chelsey was fortunate enough to catch up with her and find out exactly what it's like to fly around the world promoting champagne...and yes...it seems as tough as it sounds!
Tell us about your job, how would you describe your role?
We are a team of 12 winemakers at Moët & Chandon and we always work in team. It means we do the tastings, the blending’s etc. all together. In my job I spend 50% of my time in winemaking with the team, during the harvest and then taking part in all the base wines and blending tastings. So from August to December I work mainly at the winery in Epernay. And then from January to June I have more time to travel and visit our markets all over the world. I do tastings, dinners; I meet journalists and our consumers, to speak about the brand and our champagnes.
What does a usual day entail?
I think I don’t have any usual day! If we are during the harvest I start with going in the vineyards, to check the maturity or the picking of the grapes. If I am travelling, I am going to start the day in an airport, a plane, and then continue with an interview with a journalist, a lunch or a tasting with our customers. I never have two similar days!
You joined Moet & Chandon last year; tell us what that was like.
I did a training at Moët a few years ago during my studies, it was in 2004. I had very good contacts with the team and we kept in touch regularly. Then I graduated in 2007, found a job in another Champagne house where I have been working for three years before joining Moët. Last year, Moët decided to hire a new winemaker, and they just gave me a call!
It is definitely very exciting to work for one of the first luxury brands in the world, hard to realise sometimes! It is very demanding, but it makes me very confident as well.
How have you found it being a female in a mostly male dominated industry?
There are more and more women working in the wine business in general. At Moët & Chandon, we are now 12 winemakers, including three women. I think it is even more demanding to be a woman in a man's world, but it can be an advantage too! I don't know if women are better at tasting wines, but for sure we all have different feelings and ways of tasting wines, both women and men. And I am sure that having women in a winemaking team is an advantage, bringing more diversity of origins and experiences.
Have you had any mentors along that way that have helped shape your career?
I have been working in many different vineyards before joining Moët & Chandon : in Champagne, in California at Domaine Chandon, in Australia then, in Bordeaux in Saint Emilion and each time I have met exceptional winemakers who have learnt me a lot. It was very important for me to get this international background in winemaking, it is really useful today as I am travelling a lot! And most of the winemakers at Moët have the same background.
From the Marquis de Pompadour to Scarlett Johansson, Moet & Chandon has always had fascinating female ambassadors, what do you think the key qualities of Moet & Chandon ambassadors are?
Our ambition at Moët is to make Champagne for immediate pleasure, Champagnes to be shared with simplicity and spontaneity. Our role is to share the magic of Champagne with our consumers; this has always been the mission of Moët since the founding of the house by Claude Moët in 1743. An ambassador as to be generous and simple, and incarnate the values of the brand: grandeur, success, glamour and generosity!
What advice would you give to any aspiring viticulturists?
Be open minded, travel as much as you can in the different vineyards of the old world and new world, be passionate!
You obviously travel a lot; what are the three things you can’t travel without.
My phone, my computer, my book!
We’ve read that Moet & Chandon’s founder, Jean Remy Moet’s believed that champagne’s greatness lies in the pleasure it provides, following his philosophy, what is one of your most pleasurable past times?
As I haven’t much time to spend at home, I try to enjoy it as much as possible! I live in Champagne, in the city of Reims, and we are lucky to have the vineyards of champagne spreading all around the city. I enjoy walking there with my family and friends during the week end, enjoying the peacefulness of the nature!
What is your favourite way or place to enjoy Moet & Chandon?
A picnic with friends in the vineyard during the weekend!
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