Edouard Delaunay – The most ‘atypical’ of the great Burgundy merchant houses

Laurent Delaunay

The story of Edouard Delaunay is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Co?te d’Or. The house was founded in the late 19th Century and prospered throughout the vicissitudes of two World Wars and the Great Depression. It was the brainchild of its eponymous founder, who arrived from the Loire Valley’s port of Nantes, burning with ambition to make his mark in the prestigious precincts of Burgundy. Edouard set about his expansion by purchasing the business of his father’s Burgundy supplier and founded his operation in Nuits-Saints- Georges before moving to Dijon, the one- time capital of the Dukes of Burgundy.

Multi-generational journey

From these solid foundations, Delaunay was able to transmit the business to his two sons, Jean and Marcel. These two entrepreneurs travelled the world at the height of the Jazz Age, voyaging to North and South America and French colonies in Africa and the Far East – wherever gourmets enjoyed quality French wines. They succeeded in placing their wines both throughout the world and their native France, from the Orient Express to the Elyse?e Palace, by way of top restaurants, and on the lists of the leading merchants of the day.

During these heady years, the house of Edouard Delaunay distributed some of the most prestigious Burgundies, from the Domaine de la Romane?e-Conti to La Romane?e. The family also participated in the foundation of the Confre?rie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and the popularisation of the charity auction held annually by the Hospices de Beaune. The Delaunay tradition continued after the Second World War, as Jean’s sons Bernard and Jean-Marie continued to travel and market their wines with brio. By the 1990s, however, the Delaunay heirs encountered difficulty charting the direction of the house due to family illness, and in 1993 the house and its vineyards were sold to a leading Burgundy ne?gociant.

Historical rebirth

The sale, however, did not mark the end of the Delaunay’s winemaking destiny and dreams. Laurent Delaunay, fifth generation scion of the family, studied grape-growing and winemaking in Burgundy and business in Paris. After a global series of apprenticeships, he returned briefly to the family firm before its sale, and stayed on for several years after the transition. Eventually, however, he left Burgundy with his winemaker wife Catherine to forge a new trail in the Languedoc. Having started as ‘flying winemakers’, in due course they acquired several vineyards and built a state-of-the- art winery. Within a few years, they created the brand Les Jamelles, which is among the most popular varietal wines from the South of France.

In 2003, Laurent acquired Domaines & Vins de Proprie?te?, a merchant firm specialising in the distribution of the wines of prestigious growers from throughout Burgundy and the rest of France, representing more than 150 independent producers. This distribution work provided him with the network of contacts to realise his ultimate dream of re-launching Maison Edouard Delaunay. In 2017 he was able to re-purchase the brand, the family name, and the historic buildings and cellars of the Cha?teau de Charmont in the Hautes-Co?tes de Nuits. With the unexpected help of local growers and his partners from Domaines & Vins de Proprie?te?, he rebuilt the business. ‘I was deeply touched by the goodwill of other growers in the region,’ Laurent notes. ‘Edouard Delaunay was well-known and respected in its hey-day, and they were so happy to see the energy and passion we were putting in to revive the house, that they offered us some very beautiful cuve?es.’

Delaunay described what it meant, on a personal level, to re-purchase the house: ‘We were over the moon the first few weeks after buying back the estate. For me and my family too it was something absolutely wonderful and frankly unhoped-for. I believe in providence and for me it was a sign because it is something that never happens in Burgundy. There is a…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/sponsored/edouard-delaunay-the-most-atypical-of-the-great-burgundy-merchant-houses-495562/

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