A wine lover’s dream, Garmence Wine Studio is an exciting wine e-tailer that blends its own bespoke European wines and delivers them direct to your doorstep in suave and stylish packaging. We spoke with its founder, Charlotte Calvet, to find out more about the inspiration behind her innovative business, as well as her top comfort food and wine pairings for an afternoon of utmost indulgence.
Where did the inspiration for Garmence come from?
My family have been part of the wine making business for six generations – I’m the seventh. It wasn’t a path I always planned to follow but I realised what a heritage it was, and that my interests and fields of expertise could bring something. From then I learnt everything I could about the industry and five years later I launched Garmence.
I’ve always had a passion for the craft in fashion and perfume and came to realise that the notion of blending beautiful wines is very similar to the craft within fashion studios and perfume houses. I wanted to put the winemaker back in the centre of the product, it’s not just about pressing grapes you need the winemaker to create beautiful wines. This concept was my inspiration and after 3 years of working hand in hand with my father and a great team of producers and growers, Garmence Wine Studio was born.
Tell us more about the blending process…
As a chef needs the best ingredients to make the best dishes, we need the best grapes to make the best wines. So thanks to all our local partners, we source the best grapes in each region and then make with them the best version of the region style.
The best is to let each type of grape from each plot process on its own and then blend them to make the most balanced and delicious wine. Sometimes just 5% added to a blend can magnify or destroy the taste! We look for freshness, purity, good length, delicate aromas and low sugar levels – the opposite of a jammy over-alcoholic and full of sugar blend.
What made you want to work with wine?
I was born in Bordeaux in one of the oldest wine families with history and reputation. Bordeaux’s economy was mainly around wine business so there was a strong link to my name and my family that I could not escape. At first I found it quite stifling and oppressive, and I saw it as very old school and full of “we have always done it like this why change” based on an old glory that was changing.
I studied Political Sciences in the north of France, then studied in Argentina and then went onto travelling the world (Argentina, South American, Asia, and USA) before moving to Paris. I worked in TV and advertising for three years, in France then London before realising the ‘heritage’ grew on me. I then told my family that I wanted to be part of the company and learn the ropes but the end goal was to do something different – to use this heritage to innovate and find a way to change the way we approach wine.
What are your top winter wine recommendations?
These wines will happily take you through your fair share of weekend dinner parties, Sunday lunches and delicious everyday drinking:
1 Utiel Requena (Merlot) The subtle black fruit aromas, paired with notes of strawberries and vanilla are comforting and delicious, making it the perfect choice to be enjoyed on a cold winter evening.
2 Champagne (Chardonnay – Pinot Noir) This complex yet balanced fizz is fresh and toasty on the nose, with a deliciously elegant citrus finish. It’s the perfect sparkle to celebrate something special or perhaps just a cosy night in with pizza.
3 Saint Emilion Grand Cru (Merlot) Crafted in the legendary Bordeaux region this exceptional vintage is everything a good wine should be – beautifully structured, velvety and elegant. Nothing beats a glass of this by the fire with cashmere socks.
Do you have any pairing wines and comfort food recommendations?
1 Pizza Margherita & Utiel Requena Merlot.
The Italian’s know how to do both effortless and excess in the same breadth, just take pizza as a prime example. Pair a classic Margherita with its Spanish neighbour, Utiel Requena Merlot, for an easy yet interesting taste sensation as the wine is soft enough to complement, not overwhelm the simplicity of the basil and tomatoes.
2 Lamb Masala & Rioja
Warm, seductive and succulent – who needs company? Young rioja wines made of Garnacha are great with curry, especially tomato based ones. The soft fruit blends nicely with the acidity of the tomato, whilst still allowing the spice to come. Easy going, informal but bold enough to match the richness of the curry – understated indulgence at its best.
3 Classic Bacon Sarnie & Prosecco
Want to give your partner the ultimate Sunday brunch in bed? Bacon, when done right, should snap, crackle, and pop just like a bubbly Prosecco. The freshness of the Prosecco acts as a palate cleanser against the salty, fatty goodness of the bacon – just as the Italian’s intended.
4 Fries & Champagne
Champagne is known to work well with saltier foods, but have you ever tried it with a pot of crispy skin-on-chips? Fried were JF Kennedy’s favourites – meaning it oozes understated glamour – right? It’s a match made in heaven as the acidity and bubbles from the champagne cuts through the oiliness of the chip.
5 Burritos & Côtes Du Rhône
Normally beer territory, some Mexican food, especially TexMex can be wonderful with a deep fruity Côtes Du Rhône. The robust flavourful red will enhance the wholesomeness of the burrito, the sauce, the beef and the cheese too. You’ll thank us for the tip.
Can you describe Garmence’s ethos in three words?
Quality craft, value, transparency.
Do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in the wine industry?
In my parents’ generation, very few women were part of the industry. Even when I started I was shocked by how patronising men were towards me. Over the past 10 years things shifted and more and more women are part of the industry but mostly in the commercial part – we still lack women winemakers. The notion of blending beautiful wines is very similar to perfume houses, fashion studios and design portfolios, which is makes it more interesting and relevant to women. Women studying chemistry can get into oenology, the science of winemaking, agriculture in the vineyards and so on.
What’s next on the cards for Garmence?
We’ve just expanded our delivery service to national distribution and launched a ‘refill’ subscription service. We hope to become more and more popular to be able to explore the world of wine for our customers. We are also developing internationally with curated retail space as we’re realising more and more that our online presence benefits from a physical space as well.
Do you have any role models?
So many! Most of my girlfriends are role models for different aspects of my life and then I have what I call a ‘corporate crush’ with women such as Nathalie Massenet, Jo Malone and Fanny Moizant, founder of Vestiaire Collective.
What keeps you inspired on a daily basis?
Life around me. Conversations, listening to people on the streets, everything about fragrance and craft, even taking time out for just 30 minutes to let my mind wander…
What is your all-time favourite drink?
When it’s not wine, it’s tea! All kinds of teas – herbal, white, green, black…a world of flavours!
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