Marcel Lapierre passed away last night, apparently due to cancer. I was stunned and saddened by this news. Part of my shock comes from the
fact that I just saw him in July, and other than looking a little tired, I had no idea something like this was happening to him. He was partying and enjoying the company of few hundred friends and looked as content as could be with no indication of the struggle he must have been going through.
Marcel was a man who didn't just make brilliant wines. He was a gentle, caring, and fun loving soul who charmed everyone I saw him come into
I first met him when I was introduced to him at a tasting in New York. At the
time my French was so rusty that my friend Phil had to do the talking for me. He told Marcel that I was a young student of wine who wanted to learn
about wine, and asked if I could work for him in the coming harvest. Marcel didn't bat an eye and immediately said yes, but went a step further and said I
must stay after and learn about vinification too. I had just met the man, we didn't even speak the same language, and he took me in just like that.
That pretty much sums up every interaction I had with Marcel. You could ask him to do anything you could think of and he would try to help you, even sneaking you in to the really cool VIP only after party at a food festival.
Marcel always seemed to have a mischievous glint in his eye, and his whole family had that quality too. You got the feeling that a whole lot of fun was always just around the corner. There was a real zest for life in that man, and it communicated itself throughout his community. Whether he was throwing a giant party in the vines for hundreds of his friends, or just sitting down for a beer, that zeal was infectious and everyone around him had a great time.
I'll miss him a lot and can only hope that I can have an inch of that spirit he had in droves.