Nathalie Doucet grew to become President of Besserat de Bellefon in 2020 after a profitable profession in advertising and marketing champagne, first at Nicolas Feuillatte, the most well-liked champagne model in France, after which at Gosset, the oldest wine home of Champagne.
A joyful, gracious, and bold girl with a really clear imaginative and prescient, she is coordinating and guiding the rise of her home with willpower and magnificence, with the administration model of an iron hand in a velvet glove.
On this unique interview, she reveals the pillars of her technique to make Besserat de Bellefon one of many best homes in Champagne: the obsession for high quality, a particular model of wines characterised by style with magnificence and freshness (and smaller bubbles) for infinite pleasure, and well-thought advertising and marketing that communicates wine high quality and French joie de vivre concurrently.
How did you get into the champagne world?
I used to be born in Champagne, however as my dad was a pilot within the air drive, we frequently moved and traveled. A part of my household is from Champagne and half is from Burgundy the place I’ve an uncle who labored in wine. After I was younger, I loved very a lot tasting wines with him.
After my research in Paris, I returned to Champagne the place I married a Champenois. I obtained a doctorate within the advertising and marketing of champagne and began my profession with a significant model. Therefore, we will say that my path on the earth of champagne just isn’t that unintentional…
Champagne is usually thought-about a particular case amongst wine areas. Why?
The particularity of Champagne is that it advantages from the sturdy work and assist of the Union of Champagne Homes (UMC) which gives us with administration recommendation, and of the Comité Champagne (CIVC) which oversees and coordinates technical, financial, environmental, and model problems with champagne. These two organizations make it doable to advertise champagne internationally and to guard the appellation (AOC). Different wine areas have their organizations however that of Champagne is a reference in France for its impression; it’s a actual instrument of progress and growth.
What have you ever realized out of your earlier experiences in Champagne that you just deliver to Besserat de Bellefon?
Every expertise has allowed me to know the problems and issues of a Champagne Home. To start with, I noticed a rare industrial device at Nicolas Feuillatte which allowed me to higher perceive the manufacturing chain but in addition perceive the strategic significance of the relations with the vine growers. At Champagne Gosset, an haute-couture winemaker, I realized quite a bit about champagne making: the right way to discover the correct steadiness between grapes, crus, and dosage. Above all, these experiences allowed me to work together with all of the positions in champagne making and gave me a 360-degree imaginative and prescient which is important to managing a home.
With this background, in my job at Besserat de Bellefon I am going to the vineyards to satisfy the vine-growers, I am going to the cellars to satisfy the oenological group, after which I brainstorm with the advertising and marketing and gross sales group on the right way to finest clarify and market our wines in France and overseas.
I am going to the vineyards to satisfy the vine-growers, I am going to the cellars to satisfy the oenological group, after which I brainstorm with the advertising and marketing and gross sales group on the right way to finest clarify and market our wines.
All this with out ever forgetting that champagne is above all a wine! A wine of celebration and sharing. Our mission is to make individuals wish to style it, perceive it, share an oenological expertise and ideally construct their loyalty to our model.
We should subsequently have a imaginative and prescient of high quality that encompasses our provides, our wines, our communication, our packaging-that needs to be each artistic and eco-friendly-and our advertising and marketing. The target is to be as qualitative as doable in any respect ranges.
Advertising is an integral a part of the success of champagne. Is it sufficient to construct a revered and worthwhile champagne home?
In fact not. The place to begin is to have high quality wines, it’s of the utmost significance.
However advertising and marketing performs a vital function as a result of even when we now have the very best champagne if we don’t know the right way to place it accurately and have the correct distribution networks to the markets, we gained’t succeed.
The standard of champagne is obtained with the rigorous choice of the grape provides, well-defined manufacturing steps and requirements, and the work of the cellar grasp (Cédric Thiebault for Besserat de Bellefon) who’s the guarantor of the model of a home.
The standard of champagne is obtained with the rigorous choice of the grape provides, well-defined manufacturing steps and requirements, and the work of the cellar grasp who’s the guarantor of the model of a home.
However a home doesn’t essentially have all these elements straight away, therefore the necessity for a transparent imaginative and prescient. And with that imaginative and prescient, work on a long-term advertising and marketing technique.
What’s advertising and marketing for you?
It’s the correct product on the proper time, in the correct place, on the proper worth, with the correct communication. However one shouldn’t do advertising and marketing for the sake of it; one ought to all the time let the wine “discuss”. And every home has its model of wines, its “signature”, that it ought to try to keep up. It’s the DNA of a champagne model.
What’s your DNA, the signature of your wines?
The DNA of our model consists in together with ample percentages of pinot meunier in most of our champagnes to get a sure roundness and fruitiness, to not perform malolactic fermentation (MLF) to protect the fruity aroma of the grapes, and to have very wonderful bubbles because of a selected course of that dates again to the Nineteen Thirties. Our nice wines are additionally offered in an iconic and distinctive bottle.
The DNA of our model consists in together with ample percentages of pinot meunier in our wines to get a sure roundness and fruitiness, to not perform malolactic fermentation to protect the fruity aroma of the grapes, and to have very wonderful bubbles.
Our champagnes are tasty, however all the time with a whole lot of freshness, with a slight salinity, and bubbles which are 30% smaller than conventional champagnes, which is an actual signature.
All this makes our champagnes ideally suited for superior gastronomic experiences; they are often loved from the start to the top of a meal with out tiring the palate! And their growing older potential is outstanding.
Why is champagne not perceived as a wine to accompany a meal however moderately as an aperitif drink?
Champagne is perceived as a festive wine, which could be drunk at any time, as an aperitif, or everytime you wish to have an excellent time.
However it’s a wine earlier than being a glowing wine, which may undoubtedly accompany an entire meal.
The customers, and particularly the French customers, like pink wine with meals, with cheese for instance. However these are habits, and habits change. For my part, white wines accompany cheese a lot better, particularly outdated champagnes. And if previously we primarily drank candy champagne with beneficiant dosage on the finish of the meal on desserts, these days we choose extra-brut champagnes on the aperitif. The style of customers is ever evolving, these days in direction of drier champagnes with much less dosage.
What’s your philosophy on dosage?
There’s increasingly more curiosity in brut nature champagnes, zero-dosage, and extra-brut, that are very appropriate on the aperitif as a result of they carry a whole lot of freshness. However these very low-dose champagnes should not for all palates.
I believe that dosage needs to be primarily based on the steadiness of the wine and never a development. For this, annually we make our blends, and our dosages in response to the bottom yr within the blends. It’s the wine that guides us: in relation to it, we search the correct steadiness.
I believe that dosage needs to be primarily based on the steadiness of the wine and never a development.
However there may be additionally international warming that comes into play, which implies that we now have extra highly effective wines, with much less want for dosage. On this context, wines with out MLF are ideally suited with their freshness.
100% of our cuvées are with out MLF, for a superb freshness on the end that by no means tires the palate.
Many homes at the moment are doing partial MLF on their wines. At Besserat de Bellefon, 100% of our cuvées are with out MLF, for a superb freshness on the end that by no means tires the palate.
Who’s the standard purchaser of Besserat de Bellefon? The place do you wish to place your model when it comes to high quality and worth?
I don’t know if we now have a selected purchaser persona, however the client of Besserat de Bellefon is definitely a connoisseur, an epicurean. He/she is a client who appreciates champagnes of nice finesse and magnificence, fruity and recent.
The patron of Besserat de Bellefon is definitely a connoisseur, an epicurean. He/she is a client who appreciates champagnes of nice finesse and magnificence, fruity and recent.
That’s why our core goal is 30 to 50-year-old people, with some information of wine who wish to indulge themselves. I believe our champagnes meet their expectations with high quality wines, modern packaging, a particular bottle, and good worth for cash.
I would like Besserat de Bellefon to be a reference model for wine retailers and restaurateurs, with ultra-quality and accessible merchandise.
Consequently, our distribution is simply on-trade, in cafes, resorts, eating places, and deli retailers. We additionally work quite a bit with the world of bistronomy, which is a bit more trendy than haute delicacies, and we see increasingly more younger individuals amongst our clientele who ask very related questions throughout our tastings.
Now we have the imaginative and prescient, means, and instruments to be a terrific Champagne home.
Now we have the imaginative and prescient, means, and instruments to be a terrific Champagne home. For this, we proceed to work on the standard of our wines and their communication, in order that in a couple of years, Besserat de Bellefon will change into an iconic champagne model. Our Blanc de Blancs Grands Crus shall be our workhorse in addition to our Brut and our Rosé Brut.
You promote round 800,000 bottles per yr of which 70% in France and the remainder overseas. What are your ambitions for the years forward?
Having a robust positioning in France is essential to shine internationally. In France, we nonetheless have room for progress, notably in Paris and the West Coast the place we aren’t current sufficient. Paris is an unmissable vacationer spot with lovely eating places, by which we’re going to make investments.
As for exports, worldwide development shall be our roadmap for the years to come back. We’re already current in high-potential markets that we’ll proceed to develop akin to america, Australia, the UK, and Italy. We’re a lot concerned about Asia and South Korea, the Caribbean, and South America, but in addition in essential proximity markets akin to Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Austria. We’re going to give ourselves the means and, on this train, being a part of the second-largest group of Champagne offers us a robust benefit.
Our ambition can be to have our mansion in Épernay to welcome our clients, importers, and the general public.
Our ambition can be to have our mansion in Épernay to welcome our clients, importers, and the general public, to current and clarify our wines with visits and tastings; subsequently have a correct web site for enotourism to make us identified in Champagne.
Natural and sustainable viticulture are more and more related points amongst customers and Champenois. Nevertheless, the a part of natural vineyards and cuvées stays tiny. What’s your stance on these environmental points?
We’re very delicate about sustainable growth and the impression of our business on the surroundings. And that goes past making natural champagne, which by the way in which we’re doing already with our Triple B classic cuvée.
Wine labels and packaging have an effect on the surroundings. Beforehand, in Champagne, the codes of luxurious required a whole lot of gilding and elaborate packaging that have been primarily sourced from Asia. Now, the development leans in direction of a extra sober and “pure” method of presenting champagne. And we work with a lot nearer suppliers, primarily based both in France or in Europe, and we promote a whole lot of bottles with out instances, that are 100% recyclable anyway.
To conclude, what’s champagne for you?
For me, it’s the chance to have an excellent time sharing a bottle with individuals who recognize it. Champagne is related to all of the occasions of life: marriage, baptism, commencement, or just after we obtain associates…Champagne is really a wine of conviviality.
Champagne is the chance to have an excellent time sharing a bottle with individuals who recognize it.
In case you weren’t on the head of a wonderful champagne home, what would you be doing?
Ha ha ha! I might need purchased an property to make my wine, as a result of I find it irresistible.