June 2010

Maison with a Modern Mindset

By: Meridith May

How does an upstart brand fit into the sophisticated world of champagne? That was the question that Pascal Boyé asked himself ten years ago when he joined the House of Nicolas Feuillatte, a relatively recent name in this hundreds-of-years-old category.

Boyé, Director of Sales for Feuillatte, made a special visit to Los Angeles in April with Jean-Pierre Vincent, the first and only Chief Winemaker for the 30-year-old brand. Five Nicolas Feuillatte rosé champagnes were presented for tasting, each with a personality of its own.

Jean-Pierre Vincent, Chief Winemaker for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. PHOTO: TIFFANY ROSE
When THE TASTING PANEL asked Vincent about the Feuillatte house style, he responded, "Since 1986, I try to do what I like, so I guess you can call Feuillatte 'the Jean-Pierre style.'"

Interpreted, the Nicolas Feuillatte style indicates a combination of two traits: a champagne that's easy to drink and easy to understand. "We respect nature and fruit," Vincent says as the first glass of the salmon-hued Nicolas Feuillatte NV Brut Rosé Champagne (60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay) threads its red fruit and floral notes across my palate, tickling with raspberry-and-rose delicacy.

As a winemaker who works with 5,000 growers who oversee more than 5,000 acres of vineyards, Vincent is required to select only the best from each year's harvest in order to preserve his philosophy of producing a fresh, fruity and expressive wine. "I have access to the best vineyards in Champagne," he attests. "It is my three decades of experimentation that continually take us to the next level."

"The Palmes d'Or Rosé (SRP $200) is the one product which I imagined and succeeded at making as a result of my vision," says Jean-Pierre Vincent. Pictured here, the 2000 vintage is deep and inviting. Its chalky core leads to a line-up of flavor thanks to a unique process for champagne: skin contact. Each sip delivers generous highlights of apples, melons, cherry and kiwi tropicality.

The 2003 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d'Or PHOTO: TIFFANY ROSE

In July of 2009, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates became the exclusive U.S. importer of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. "Our portfolio is becoming a string of pearls," says Scott Ehrlich, Senior Marketing Manager/Imports for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. "We are proud to represent some very distinguished estates with high quality wines from around the world, each reflecting specific terroir."


Feuillatte’s Jean-Pierre Vincent with Sophie Gayot, François Martin of Sunset Marquis and marketing/PR expert Pamela Wittmann of Millissime Ltd. PHOTO: TIFFANY ROSE

It seems no coincidence that Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was founded in the same era-the mid-to-late 80s-as was Nicolas Feuillatte. "Ste Michelle is a young company that was the pioneer in Washington State. Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte fits perfectly into our portfolio-another young innovative brand with a modern mindset."


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