Benoit Gouez worked in Australia, California and New Zealand before becoming Chef de Cave (Cellar Master) at Moët & Chandon in 2005. He grew up in Normandy and became interested in growing grapes and making wine, only after he enrolled at Montpellier SupAgro, an international centre for higher education in agriculture. He has nurtured a lifelong love of food, with happy childhood memories of eating blue lobsters with his grandfather who was a fisherman in Brittany.
Where were you born?
My roots are in Brittany (France).
What was your best memory growing up?
Fishing and sailing. I need the energy of the ocean.
Where and what did you study?
I graduated as an engineer in agronomy with a specialisation in viticulture and oenology from SupAgro in Montpellier (France).
Any formal wine training?
I also have a diploma of Oenology from the Ecole Supérieure d'Oenologie in Montpellier.
Who was your mentor?
Guy Bascou in Béziers, and then Philippe Coulon and Richard Geoffroy in Champagne — three men of great charisma and humanity.
What are your views on agriculture: Sustainable? Organic? Biodynamic?
Sustainable for Champagne vineyards. Biodynamic for my garden.
What was the best advice you ever received?
From Dominique Foulon, former Moët & Chandon Chef de Cave, when I first met him: the most important quality of a winemaker is to have good sight — very helpful in blind tastings!
Outside wine, what is your passion?
Gardening. I love to be outside, to breathe fresh air, to listen to the wind in the trees, to feel the power of nature.
What's your guilty secret?
Tasting great old vintages with my team to challenge us on what we do today.
What "addiction" would you most like to give up?
Tasting all the juices when they arrive at the winery at harvest time...my teeth would appreciate it.
What are you craving right now?
Tasting the 2013 base wines. I can't wait to know if our decisions at harvest time have paid off!
How do you keep in shape?
Outside the harvest period, I have adopted Sir Winston Churchill's answer, when he was asked the secret of his longevity: Sport... No Sport!
Diet or eat everything?
Enjoy the good things in life. I don't like the idea of hardship ("privation"), nothing is bad – it is just a question of the dose and the timing.
What are you reading now?
Inferno by Dan Brown and Le livre des morts égyptien & livre de vie from Pascal Bancourt. Beyond esotericism, I am intrigued by the idea of ancient knowledge that has been lost by many and that needs to be rediscovered. The transfer of this knowledge from generation to generation is an issue.
Favourite place to vacation?
Zermatt (Switzerland) in the winter, Saint-Clair in Le Lavandou (France) in the summer.
Favourite hotel in the world?
The Raffles in Singapore.
Favourite local hotel?
Domaine Les Crayères in Reims (France). The trio of Hervé Fort (Managing Director), Philippe Mille (Head Chef) and Philippe Jamesse (Head Sommelier) is amazing.
Favourite restaurant in the world?
RyuGin in Tokyo. I have had a special relationship with Chef Yamamoto since the launch of Grand Vintage 2003.
Favourite restaurant locally?
Le 1947 by Yannick Alléno at the hotel Cheval Blanc in Courchevel (France), the pinnacle of French cooking!
Favourite city to visit?
Tokyo. Not for the city but for the people and the food! Unagi with Moët Impérial is a must!
Favourite wine/vintage from your winery?
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 1921! A liquid panettone! Timeless! In recent years, Grand Vintage 2003; this vintage is a turning point in our approach to working the harvest.
Favourite wine/vintage, which is not yours?
Château Cheval Blanc, so finely grained.
Favourite shop to buy clothes?
Boutique Kenzo, Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8ème Arrondissement.
There is still so much to do...
That people still think that rosé champagne can only be served with dessert.
If you can choose your perfect last supper before leaving this world, what would it be, who would it be with and what would you drink with it?
A dinner with the founder of Moët & Chandon Claude Moët and his "ambassador" Madame de Pompadour to determine if she really said that champagne is the only drink that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking... I would be curious to know the taste of the wines at that time.