Martin Gauthier runs an agency known worldwide for its part in creating the famous “taste tags” so familiar to SAQ customers across Qu ebec. He spoke to us about a passion that speaks to his unbridled love of live.
IT STARTED AS A SIMPLE INTEREST…
Gauthier admits openly that nothing predisposed him to becoming the wine lover he is today, considering that he got his start in advertising with his father, working for Labatt!
But then he met Olivier Moreaux in the early 2000s, and that changed everything. At the time, Moreaux was head of Sopexa Canada, an agency dedicated to promoting French products around the world. “My first real contact with the world of wine was when I first visited Saint-Émilion in 1999––a unique region of France, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (well before the Climats du vignoble de Bourgogne made the list!)”
Over time, Gauthier became a more educated wine enthusiast, learning how to taste and appreciate different wines. He become an expert in the history surrounding the different producers and their families, touring wine regions, realizing how much attention growers pay to their vines, and reading the key characteristics on wine labels with a more confident eye. A few years later, working with his new client, SAQ, Gauthier and the Sid Lee group began their quest to democratize the language of wine for Quebec consumers. Surprisingly, the idea came to them while dining out one evening at a restaurant whose wine list included a colour chart to identify the personality of each wine. The taste tag concept was born.
FRUIT OF A VERY HUMAN NATURE
The pleasures of wine are obvious. But beyond that, Gauthier believes it can also open the doors to different worlds. It can be an ice-breaker or connecter at social events; it can be a source of inspiration. This may explain why many artists often make a glass of wine part of their creative process. Gauthier has become an avid collector, and he intends to leave his passion as a legacy. He currently holds more than 2,500 bottles in three different cellars, the plan being to leave this same number of bottles to each of his four children.
When asked which people have influenced him the most, Gauthier answers without hesitation: “Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, the man behind the famous Château Angelus, impressed me with his innate sense for marketing. That scene on the train in the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, always comes to mind when I think of Hubert!” “Hubert de Montille, credited with the now famous Domaine de Montille, is another exceptional individual whose remarkable transparency and strength of character have had a huge impact on the wine industry. I was fortunate to share a unique moment with him when he opened a magnum named Cuvée Christiane, after his late wife. I accompanied him home and was incredibly moved when I noticed a portrait of the couple on a table in the entrance hall. The look on their faces spoke volumes—even more so than the magic of that great wine, which represents the very best of his many fine vintages. Finally, there is Albert Bichot, whom I fell in love with instantly! Aside from the undeniable talent he has demonstrated in developing the Albert Bichot brand, I think he is the kindest, humblest man in all of Burgundy!”
Big passions often go hand-in-hand with big dreams. One dream that Gauthier realized was to attend the “Trois Glorieuses,” a major cultural event that includes the famous Hospices de Beaune wine auction. The auction is THE major wine event in Burgundy, and occurs just as the fate of a new vintage is sealed. “It was most memorable,” says Gauthier. Another great moment was his encounter with Champlain Charest, the great Canadian wine collector whose famous restaurant in the Laurentians needs no introduction. “The first time we met, I had the pleasure of serving wine to him and his wife, Monique, in a very intimate setting. This magical time in his company was liberally sprinkled with some of his countless wonderful stories. I am pleased to count him as a friend.”
A TASTE FOR GIVING
A while back, Gauthier discovered the Montréal Passion Vin winetasting event and dreamed of becoming its president one day. He is happy to report that he has now held the position for more than five years! This year he shares his presidency with Mathieu Duguay de Cogir. This unique benefit supports the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont Foundation, which has helped finance the Centre of Excellence for Cellular Therapy, where Mai Duong and Matthew Schreindorfer are among those who have sought treatment. Gauthier finds it gratifying to put his dynamic energy into service for the Foundation, which is currently raising money for a new Integrated Cancer Centre, a major project that will cost over $30M. “This year’s Montréal Passion Vin will be its 15th edition, and we have some extraordinary things planned with some of the biggest names in the wine world. I’m looking forward to raising my glass, and celebrating life with as many people as possible.” Martin, consider your invitation officially extended. Cheers!