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  • Writer's pictureMona Elyafi

For Your Eyes Only: “La Dégustation Visuelle”

Updated: Apr 3, 2023


Photo Credit: Franck Courtes

Champagne, like all wines, is an experience for all the senses and no other artist has ever been able to capture that sensory discovery more than Caroline Brun.

Her artwork is a visual and sensorial voyage that uniquely translates the intensity, richness, nuances, elegance, even impertinence of those inexhaustible million-champagne bubbles as they delightfully spiral and dance from the glass to the palate.

Born in Champagne, France, Caroline Brun is a quintessential Champagne ambassador and educator, a ferocious autodidact, and an exceptionally creative artist who most definitely commands our respect and attention.

A champagne tasting became the foundation of her artistic career, painting textured canvas that visually recreate and re-awaken the emotions and thrills of a champagne degustation (tasting).

The recipient of “The Best International Artist” Special Mention at the MAVV Wine Art Museum 2021 Art Contest in Portici, Italy, Brun’s art continues to inspire and captivate wine aficionados and art lovers around the world.

Caroline Brun leads us passionately and with sensibility in her uniquely creative universe – one that breaks cultural barriers and gives people an exclusive insight into the mystical and sensory world of champagne, the wine, and the region.

Conjuring all the elements encapsulated in a bottle – from texture, color, energy to intensity, flavor, and aromas – her art stands as the repository of Champagne’s collective memory.

A magical ability to preserve a champagne moment, sensation and feeling, and capture a time and place. An experience unlike any others that extraordinarily engages us emotionally and spiritually.

It was such treat to be able to have this up-close and personal exchange with Caroline Brun. She’s an exceptionally gifted artist and immense inspiration providing a shining example of how women can “make it” in Champagne on their own terms.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey into the champagne world?

I was born in a wine family in the Grand cru village of Ay-Champagne, my Grand-father founded Champagne René BRUN, my great uncle, Champagne Edouard BRUN, and my father Champagne Roger BRUN. I studied foreign languages. I passed my BPREA in Avize in 2009, WSET2 in 2011, sake sommelier certification in 2015.

Women do not count in my family. I had to work elsewhere. As I wanted to keep my feet in the wine world, I became a private guide for a premium British wine tour agency, Arblaster & Clarke, where I met the wine critic Charles Metcalfe who was so impressed by my passion and my way to describe wines that he offered me to become the local global Champagne ambassador for the International Wine Challenge. I have been a local little mousse in all champagne cellars even the ones closed to public. One person connects you to another one, that is how I met Matthieu Kauffmann, ex cellar master of Bollinger who offered me to work for the house. It is what I have been doing ever since. Today Bollinger is my main client. I host the wine professional guests of the house.

A champagne tasting basically became the foundation of your artistic career - can you talk about the inspiration & concept behind “La Dégustation Visuelle”? Did you have an artistic background?

A Dom Perignon 1971 is at the origin of my art La dégustation visuelle. One of my English friends asked me to organize a unique birthday celebration for her 50th birthday. I organized a weekend for her and her friends and we were received at the Hautvillers Abbaye by Richard Geoffroy ( the cellar master ) and did a comparative tasting of Dom Pérignon. The experience was just already unique. At the end of the tasting Richard told us that he had a little surprise, and a magnum of 1971 was poured.

Richard’s generosity, the wine, the moment, the company, something bizarre happened…. I felt the same sensation as discovering a temple carved directly in the rock at the top of a mountain in Petra …. Humans can create divine beauty.… I wanted to keep the memory of this incredible emotion forever and instinctively put my perception on a canvas.

I have no art education at all. Never painted before.

Your paintings have a unique way of revealing the diversity that is champagne. How did you think of creating art that allows us to taste champagne with our eyes and capture its individual personality?

I have never thought of creating an art. It came to me like this. An urge after this tasting. I liked it. I continued in order to decorate my house.

Describing a wine only by its grape variety and terroir is reductive. It is like describing a person by his birthplace, the color of his skin, eyes, hairs …. It gives you an idea but does not describe the personality. With the same data you can have a strong identity or a boring person, same in wine. Two wines can be completely different: one that touches you, and the other can be flat. Another can have a fantastic length and another a great tension and uprightness. I try to express this in my paintings.

I love that you do not ever use a brush and that your choice of texture, colors and material are meticulously chosen to express a terroir, or perhaps the depths of the cellars and Crayères. Can you explain your approach?

I have somehow created my own way to craft wine through my art as I cannot do it in real life. So I try to use the same material. My brush can be bottles, anti-rabbit protection, …anything which can be used in the industry.

I paint my tasting notes but not exclusively. I can also express the atmosphere that you can feel in the cellars. The material I choose is directly connected with what I paint. You can see me in vineries, in the vines musing to find some inspiring element and colors.

For commission of other wine region, I just need to taste a bottle to taste the wine. I have done a Greek Muscato and a Sauvignon from New Zealand. Last November, I had the honor to be invited to comment a white St Joseph and Pic Saint Loup for the Union of French Oenologists for their Technical meeting day with my art and compare it with a famous sommelier Philippe Jamesse, Frederic panaiotis , Ruinart cellar master and Mr Richter a nose in perfume

Women have made major strides in the wine world, but they still remain disproportionally underrepresented especially in Champagne. What advice would you give young women aspiring to have a career in the industry?

Learn as much as you can, follow your intuition, be strong.

Speaking about women representation, you come from a family of champagne growers with a very patriarchal culture. How has that affected you?

The is no art without commitment and suffering.

What has surprised you most about your career as an artist and a champagne ambassador?

I would have never imagined that I could inspire other people both in art and wine industries. I am still very surprised by the impact of some of my art pieces. `That is very moving and a superb reward for me.

Your art has been taking you around the world. You just came back from Napa, California. Can you share some of the events you’ve been part of? How did these opportunities come about?

I have done a second masterclass and art exhibition in San Diego introducing 4 different houses, Laurent Perrier, Ployez Jacquemart, Billecart Salmon and Veuve Fourny. It started last year thanks to an art collector couple who commissioned me to come to educate their friends in an art gallery. I also did a common event with Laurent Perrier in Napa with a local artist Penelope Moore who invited me to join her event. One of my arts can still be seen in Acumen Gallery.

What are you hoping to bring to your role as an artist representing Champagne on an international level?

A growing path

You’re also an ambassador for Bollinger. What is your role for the Maison?

Bollinger has been my client for the last 13 years, I am the passionate local smile of the house as a storyteller there, hosting the wine professionals, leading the tastings and sharing the specific know-how of the house.

What is next for you and La Degustation Visuelle?

Ì will be part of an international art show in Barcelona in June. Another residency is already planned in San Diego, a winery in Napa is interested to host me …

Australia is a dream that may come true. I have few canvases already there and other things…. Wait and see….

What legacy do you hope to leave to the Champagne world?

To have helped to keep the prestigious and innovation image of the champagne wines at the premium level.

What is your most memorable champagne moment?

Oh la la …What a hard question I have so many…difficult to give you just only one.

I give you 2:

1. A glass shared in the Clos St Jacques of Vieilles Vignes Françaises of Bollinger with Nicole Goodyer, winner of the amateur Champagne awards in 2016. Unique!

2. When I entered the Moet & Chandon wine library

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