RIP Jean Mathias
With the sad death of Jean Mathias, we have lost one of our great friends and suppliers. Jean died, at the age of 88, on 7th January, in the Mâconnais village of Chaintré, following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
We discovered the wonderful wines of the Mathias family in the first part of the 1980’s, beginning with us importing their 1983 Pouilly-Vinzelles. As you can see from our 1984 price list, we were very excited with our find, especially at a time when Pouilly-Fuissé was becoming prohibitively expensive. With a trade price of £4.11 a bottle (ex. VAT) it does seem to be extraordinarily good value! By 1986, we were buying Jean Mathias’ excellent Pouilly-Fuissé, starting with the formidable 1985 vintage.
Jean was a mild mannered, discreet yet passionate man. Married to Andrée, they had three children, Marie-Pierre, Gilles and Aline. Gilles and his wife, Béatrice, now run the Chaintré-based domaine, helped by their son Thibault and we continue to buy both their Pouilly-Vinzelles and Pouilly-Fuissé, thirty-six years after our first shipment from Chaintré arrived in Ottery St. Mary.
Coincidentally, Jean Mathias was friends with the late Georges Duboeuf, also a native of Chaintré, who died a few days before, on 4th January. Jean and Georges attended the same school in Chaintré and then went on to secondary school together, sharing an interest in cycling and gymnastics! When Georges Duboeuf launched his “Ecrin” of Beaujolais and Mâconnais growers in the mid-1950’s, Jean Mathias was one of the members, with Duboeuf distributing his wines until the informal group of producers went their own way.
Although Jean retired when he was seventy, he was still very present at the domaine, helping with the harvest, wine making and receiving customers in their cool and peaceful cellars, under their house, in the centre of Chaintré. Jean liked nothing better than picking out an old, dusty bottle of Fuissé or Vinzelles and asking us to divine the vintage and most importantly, commentating on the wines characteristics! We shall very much miss visiting him and our thoughts are with his wife Andrée, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.