An unusual guide to wine appeared on the scene earlier this year: " La Carte des vins s’il vous plaît ". The single-page guide...

Mapping the story behind 'La Carte des vins s’il vous plaît'

An unusual guide to wine appeared on the scene earlier this year: "La Carte des vins s’il vous plaît". The single-page guide, which combines graphics, tips and tales, is the work of Jules Gaubert-Turpin and Adrien Grant Smith Bianchi. I caught up with Jules, over a glass of wine, to find out more about the innovative product.

How would you define la Carte des Vins s’il vous plaît?

It's a foldaway map which compiles easy-to-understand graphics that illustrate how a wine-growing region functions: the varieties of grapes (cépages) that are used, proportions of the different types of wine produced, etc. The challenge we faced was to talk about wine, which can be a touch elitist, in a manner which is as straightforward as possible. And we believe that the best way of getting things across is through the use of diagrams, charts and timelines.

It's very much a double-sided product...

One side comprises the various graphics positioned around a small map of the Bordeaux area, and overleaf is a large map of the winegrowing region with details of the different designations, tourist sights and wine museums to help visitors when touring the region. 

Close-up shots of either side.
How did the idea come about?

It started with our interest in wine and food, and we soon realised that there were countless guides available on the market but nothing very aesthetically pleasing or simple enough for people who don't necessarily have the time to read a book from cover to cover. We also had plans to work on a project to showcase Atelier Plum, our graphic design agency which is specialised in promoting local produce. My partner Adrien handled the visual side while I was lead on the texts. At the outset it was more of an abstract concept but the feedback was so good that we ran a feasibility study and decided to go ahead and publish. It was released in May 2015 in French and in English (translated by friends based in London and New York) and over the first four months we printed 6,000 copies. Our objective is now to develop it into a bona fide brand and build a collection with a view to it becoming a sort of Guide du Routard for vineyards. We're looking to cover all the major vineyards not only in France but also in Italy, Austria, Spain, Chile, Brazil and Syria!...

There's a unique style about the content. How would you describe it?

It's light-hearted and a little bit mischievous, but always kind! The humour is very gentle. We'd like that style to become a constant, striking the right balance between being informative and slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Jules Gaubert-Turpin, a couple of wineglasses, a fresh supply of bread, a Moleskine notebook and copies of the Carte. Deli platter sadly just out of shot.
What did you yourself find out when you were researching the Bordeaux Carte des vins?

Firstly that it's difficult to make the information simple! There are 600 winemakers producing 600 different wines in Bordeaux, so there's no way basic graphics can cover them all individually. Then we were struck by the sheer power of Bordeaux wines with regard to the amount that is sold, i.e. some 900 million bottles year in, year out! Finally, we realised how little people from Bordeaux actually know about wine. Head over to Rue Sainte-Catherine and ask them "what is a cépage?", many won't be able to respond. And we're no exceptions, we quickly realised how little we knew!

What have your biggest commercial and media breaks been so far?

We'll never forget the launch party which was held in a restaurant run by friends, Belle Campagne. It was a big night spent with friends who have monitored and supported the project since day one. Since then we have developed close ties with local AccorHotels establishments who very much liked the product. Fifteen hotels used it as a gift for customers throughout the summer months. As for media coverage, there have been articles in Sud Ouest and on the France 3 website, although this Invisible Bordeaux interview represents a new pinnacle!

#Vintage instructions for use.
Who are your end-customers?

We were initially targeting younger generations or beginner wine enthusiasts. But it turns out our audience is mostly tourists visiting the area and on the look-out for a practical souvenir or a gift for friends. And the Carte easily fits into any suitcase!

What will the second edition of the Carte focus on? 

It will focus on Alsace and we're aiming to release it before Christmas 2015. We recently got back from a research trip to work on the content, and my aim is to spend some time back there to handle promotion duties, meeting people who can contribute to the distribution drive, such as journalists, winemakers and wine merchants. We would like to replicate that model for subsequent editions and be based locally both before and after publication, to gain a local foothold and be able to do everything properly from A to Z.

What other projects are you currently working on?

We're doing everything we can so that our agency becomes a recognised start-up partner for local produce and tourism, conceiving applications and websites, supporting product launches and producing guidebooks, calendars and so on. I also recently produced a 47-minute video documentary about Brazilian wines which was shown in Rio de Janeiro as part of the 2015 Rio Wine & Food Festival. I am going to carry on presenting the film in wine cellars, catering schools and the like, to be able to show what goes on there. My ambition is to be able to become an ambassador for Brazilian wines in France, and as such the film is a useful promotional tool.

To finish up, if you could have a glass of any wine of your choice, what would it be?

Of the wines I have already tried, one which stands out is a Gewürztraminer by the winemaker Paul Buecher, a late-harvested wine which we tasted one morning in Alsace. One I would love to try is the Burgundy Pouilly-Fumé produced by Alexandre Bain, who is not longer authorised to use the Pouilly-Fumé "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" as he uses biodynamic production techniques. The wine is reportedly outstanding. 

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