As France’s only female Master of Wine, and one of only 354 MWs worldwide, Isabelle’s wine life started very classically indeed. She won the Madame Bollinger award for Excellence in Tasting and the Villa Maria award for Viticulture when she became an MW, and was awarded the ‘Wine Woman of the Year’ award in Paris shortly after.
However an about turn at the end of her wine studies, saw her take a different path to most. Having decided to dedicate her work to helping people think about what they drink and promoting the need for transparency in the wine world, in 2012 she created RAW WINE, which has grown to become the world’s largest community of low-intervention organic, biodynamic and natural wine producers. Featuring four annual fairs in London, Berlin, New York and Los Angeles, RAW WINE leads the charge globally for fine, clean, low-intervention wine, and is commonly considered ‘the fair of note for artisan and natural wines’ (El Mundo) and by many in the industry as ‘showing the world the right approach to wine’ (Ottolenghi).
A huge advocate of organic farming practices and proper living wines, Isabelle does not sit on the fence. For her, the world’s best wines are natural and that is all she personally drinks. Although initially considered a bit of a misfit by her industry, her work is today internationally acclaimed. She was chosen as one of “the 2017 most innovative women in food and drink” by Fortune, as one of the Dream Team of the 50 most influential French people in the world in 2017 by Vanity Fair, and even as one of “the 50 most influential travellers of our time” according to Conde Nast Traveller. Perhaps best of all though, she was honoured to have won the first WSET Outstanding Alumni Award in partnership with JancisRobinson.com, which was voted on by her peers from across the world.
Her first book, Natural Wine: an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally (published by RPS CICO), was shortlisted for the Fortnum & Mason Best Drinks Book as well as the Louis Roederer and André Simon awards. Described by the World of Fine Wine as “an infectious, accessible guide [that]… may prove to be the most important wine book yet written”, it is available in English, French, Italian, Cantonese, Japanese and Russian.
Alongside RAW WINE, Isabelle heads up the wine offerings for Bibendum Restaurant & Oyster Bar (Kensington), Elliot’s (Borough Market), and The Neptune, a new opening on Russell Square. Previous appointments have included 2-Michelin starred Hibiscus (Mayfair), The Richmond (Hackney) as well as eco-luxury resorts Kittitian Hill (St Kitts) and Soneva Fushi (Maldives). She founded and ran the wine school at Divertimenti (Marylebone High Street) for 10 years, as well as Bacchanalia, a private members wine club and investment portfolio for a select group of management consultants, lawyers, bankers and energy professionals in the City.
Isabelle has extensive media experience, appearing as an expert on programmes such as MasterChef, Sunday Brunch, BBC Newsnight, BBC Breakfast and Radio 4, as well as hosting her own wine series for the Travel Channel, four seasons of which were aired in 20 languages to 117 countries across the globe. She contributes to various international publications (including Decanter Magazine, Financial Times and Conde Nast Traveller). She speaks regularly at conferences worldwide (including the WSJ “The Future of Everything” Festival, taking place this May in New York) and been part of numerous judging panels over the years (including the Decanter regular panel tastings, Decanter World Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge and the Concours Mondial).
She lives in east London with her partner, and their Border Terrier, Huckleberry Finn.