LAUNCH OF CHAMPAGNE CASTELNAU'S LATEST PRESTIGE CUVÉE
Champagne Coop Group, Coopérative Regionale des Vins de Champagne (CRVC) has undergone major re-branding exercise in the last few years specifically between 2013-2017, during which they bought out the Castelnau brand and a couple of years following that, also their UK distributor, Patriarch Wine Agencies (formally a Burgundy establishment) as part of a strategic move to focus on UK based brand development activities. Later named as Castelnau UK, Patriarch Wine Agency, owned by Keith Isaacs MW who is also the UK head of Champagne Castelnau, runs as an establishment that focuses most of its marketing and sales activities with a sole mission of running and building the Champagne’s brand presence across UK and Ireland.
I met with Pascal Prudhomme (MD Champagne Castelnau) and Keith Isaacs MW (in charge of Castelnau Wine UK in London), at the occasion of their stylish and chic launch of the second -year release of their Prestige Cuvee that was held in the newly renovated Jacobian Suite of the 1920s townhouse called the Kettners Apartment. The 80sq m luxurious suite has a purpose-built artistic copper bath that makes a statement right at the entrance of the apartment. Further walking in through the Georgian timber panels, one can recognise the quintessential art deco of the early 20th century through stylistic masterpieces such as the ornate canopy super King sized bed flanked by deep tawny coloured ornate velvet fabric over the headboards, teak side panels, delicately carved dining tables, European designer sofas with bold blue floral upholstery, starched guild roman blinds with sky patterns opening into the bustle of London’s busy Soho’s Greek Street. A venue that has been carefully chosen to represent what Castelnau truly believes in. Stylish and forward looking yet preserving its traditional values - the brand is determined to demonstrate its savviness and creativity through its varied stylish expressions.
According to Keith, “By buying out the UK importer business and re-branding the packaging and labelling, our mission is a clear depiction of our serious and dedicated commitment to the UK market where we believe, lies the future potential, not just on the retail sector but also in the Central London wine and champagne bars and restaurants that seek for a diversification of their Sparkling wine portfolio”.
The markets where they see most demand in the next 10 years are in the growingly rigorous wine menus of the on-trade gastronomic restaurants apart from niche UK independents, Duty-Free Zones and affordable specialist buyers such as The Wine Society. Apart from being regular winners of the IWC, Sommelier Wine Awards and IWSC, they also have stood out in Business Travellers Air Travel awards over the last couple of years. This includes Gold Medal in the ‘Cellars of the Sky Competition’ in 2016 for the Best Business Class Sparkling on EVA Air (Taiwanese air carrier) that went to Champagne Castelnau Blanc de Blanc, Millesime 2007.
LAUNCH OF "Hors Categorie" IN LONDON
In April, they celebrated the second-year launch of the limited release of their ultra-fine Hors Catégorie, the prestige category of Champagne Castelnau. A blend of two vintages 2010 and 2011, the Hors Catégorie is their select premium cuvée that gets special treatment in the form of fermentation in oak barrels. Handpicked from select sunny, southern exposed parcels of grapes across Reims, the Cuvée is made with a majority of the blend (85%) being black grapes of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and a smaller volume, (roughly 13-15%) of Chardonnay.
Keith adds, “The Special Cuvee is not only to mark our 100plus years producing wines. Through this Cuvée, our emphasis is to differentiate from our other range of champagnes by highlighting the creamy texture and the Burgundian elegance of this stylistic champagne that has been designed using select hand-picked grapes across CRVC’s 900 ha of vineyards across Reims. What makes it extra special is not just the barrel fermentation where we have sourced the oak from the Aragon forests, but also the last step of sealing where we have just about marginally lowered Carbon dioxide pressure by 0.4-0.5 bars atmospheric bars, that adds an element of fuller texture giving it that extra gastronomic edge for these wines.”
Don't miss out watching the highlights of the launch party in the video below :
Other champagnes of the brand that Keith and I tasted and talked about in the launch included :
Champagne Castelnau Brut Reserve:
Chardonnay constitutes 40% of this champagne with another 40% of Pinot Meunier and 20% of Pinot Noir grapes. Aged on the lees for atleast 6.5 years, this range of champagne displays incredible structural complexity still retaining sharp and crisp acidity and focused precision.(Priced at £28 and available from The Wine Society)
Champagne Castelnau Rosé:
Using similar base wines as the Brut Reserve, the Rosè champagne differentiates itself through the addition of 15% red wine from low yielding specific black grape parcels picked and isolated solely for the purpose of rosé champagne production, Keith adds “With an equally long-term ageing on lees for up to 4 years, our rosés are meant to showcase the elaborate and most importantly the super-consistent expression of high-quality rosé champagnes year on year.” Available from Amazon and Vaud Wines (circa £32-35)
Having already achieved sales of 800,000 bottles so far by 2018, CEO Pascal Prudhomme is highly optimistic about reaching their sales target of one million bottles by 2020. The credit for producing such stylish and diverse range of champagnes goes to the efficient master works of Elisabeth Sarcelet, the female chef de cave of the Champagne brand. Castelnau agencies also distributes wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, America, Argentina and Chile. For more information, visit their site by clicking here.