Maison Vauron serves up a slice of France in the heart of Newmarket.
Most cities have treasured haunts that only certain locals know about. Maison Vauron is one of those for Aucklanders. Even though the French wine merchant has a diehard fan base and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it’s more a result of bouche à oreille (‘word of mouth’), than fanfare.
Francophiles have watched Maison Vauron grow from small beginnings to a roomy two-storied space offering the largest French wine selection in Australasia, along with the country’s most plentiful collection of French cheeses, charcuterie and delicacies, as well as L’Atelier du Fromage – a bistro-style establishment that holds Newmarket’s ‘Best Café’ title.
Downstairs at MV, the tables and chairs of L’Atelier du Fromage spill onto the sidewalk while indoors, generous displays of cheese, the aroma of good coffee and shelves laden with delicious morsels tempt the tastebuds. Upstairs, a cavernous space hosts cherrywood and oak dining tables shipped here from France. Warehouse shelving, along with boxes and baskets on the floor, overflow with wine bottles hailing from every region including Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and Provence. It’s a veritable treasure trove for the most discerning of palates.
A Family Story
Jean-Christophe Poizat – a Frenchman who came to New Zealand in 1991, fell in love with a Kiwi girl and made this country his home – then brought Maison Vauron to us together with his business partners, Peter and Scott.
“My family has been in the wine business in Saint-Etienne, southwest of Lyon since 1879,” says Jean-Christophe. “I was working for an English wine merchant when New Zealand wine was just beginning to get a ‘nose’ so I came here to learn about them. Six months later I met my wife, Di. The two best choices of my life have been coming to New Zealand and marrying my wife.”
Established in 1999
Maison Vauron entered the market on 1 September, 1999. “It was a big gamble at the time,” says Jean-Christophe. “We offered only French wine, though not to the extent that we do now. We still only stock French wine with the exception of two New Zealand wineries. One, Clos Henri, is owned by a French family; the other is Surveyor Thomson, owned by Kiwis who have vineyards in Burgundy and they make a pinot noir in Central Otago.
“It’s wonderful because Kiwis are big travellers and France has always been a popular destination even though France hasn’t always been kind. Kiwis have this fantastic attitude where they want to move on and that’s a great thing.”
Food & Wine
The tables are always filled with people enjoying the Tastings du Jour and whatever sensational recipe is on the menu because the wine is always accompanied by food – it’s all part of the experience. “It’s very casual, there’s nothing precious about it. We do wine-tastings every day where we serve three wines maybe a white, a rosè and a red. We have an amazing chef – Gilles Papst from the Alsace region – and he serves wonderful revisited recipes. There’s always a little bit of cheese within our cuisine. It might be just shavings but there will always be cheese,” says Jean-Christophe.
“We transport people to different wine regions in France for a couple of hours. Sometimes we might have a guest speaker – someone who lives, breathes and sweats wine. We tell the story of wine and take people to where it comes from. I’m lucky to have been given this by my ancestors. Wine is an artform and the story that goes with it is spectacular – the making of it and the people around it.”
Stocking The Shelves
Jean-Christophe travels to France twice a year. “I taste everything, every single thing you can buy here. I work like crazy for three weeks followed by two days in Paris by myself. It’s the most amazing city and I take that time to get my sanity back. I’ve got some wonderful clients who sometimes travel with me. That the great thing about wine, it’s all about sharing.”
“Perhaps it’s a coincidence or maybe because of some sort of blood affiliation, I don’t know, but in 1875, my great-great-grandfather came to this country as a young boat helper and went to Picton, Wellington and Auckland. I arrived 116 years later, and, hand on heart I can say I owe this country and Kiwis everything. There’s no way I would be where I am today if I’d settled in France, I sincerely believe my life wouldn’t be this good without New Zealand.”
Looking at the thriving hub that is Maison Vauron we can say feeling’s mutual.