Studying Champagne

Gwen Lee
March 17, 2016

Bonjour from Épernay!

Welcome to the Champagne Region of France! France protects the term "champagne" so not all sparkling wines can be called champagne. The grapes used to make champagne can only come from certain lands in France. For our luxury brand marketing class, we took a short bus ride to Épernay, one of the few areas allocated to champagne production. 

There were miles and miles of land dedicated to growing grapes. Right underneath are the cellars used to make the champagne.

Our first stop was to Nicolas Feuillatte, one of the biggest producers of champagne. We took a tour of their facility to learn about the production of their luxury product.

For France to deem a sparkling wine "champagne", producers need to prove that (1) the grapes used were grown in the champagne region and (2) the sparkling wine must be produced through the champagne method. In this method, there are two fermentations, one in the vats (pictured above) and one in the bottle.

Nicolas Feuillatte is so successful because they created a lower priced champagne sold specifically in supermarkets, where 75% of champagne is sold in France. Shoppers choose Nicolas Feuillatte at their grocery stores knowing that the brand guarantees a good quality champagne despite its lowered price. It was a genius marketing strategy that led to the business's growth.

Old and used oak barrels give Nicolas Feuillatte's champagne a wooden aroma.

Our tour guide showed us how the riddling process helps extract the yeast (used to ferment the wine) out of the bottle. This ingenious process was invented by Madame Veuve Cliquot, the first modern business woman. She ran her own luxury champagne brand, Veuve Cliquot.

There were rows and rows of bottles being riddled. This was only a fraction of the company's bottles currently going through the champagne method. The sheer size of the company was extraordinary to see.

After seeing all the bottles of champagne being made, it was time to taste it!

We had a buffet lunch at Nicolas Feuillatte as well. The food went wonderfully with the champagnes we tasted.

Our next stop was the Mercier champagne house. This is a photo of their giant wine barrel which could hold 200,000 bottles of champagne. It was shown to the public at the 1889 World's Fair.

We took a train ride through their champagne cellar and learned more about the steps of the champagne method. 

The wine cellars were comprised of mile-long tunnels that grew tiring to look at for those who worked there. As a remedy, huge bas-reliefs were installed as decoration.

Funny story we learned in Luxury Brand Marketing: Dom Perignon (the champagne brand depicted in the relief above) does not have the age old back story they boast. Dom Perignon is not related to the seventeenth century monk at all. The Dom Perignon champagne is actually an extension of the Mercier brand. It was merely named after the historic monk. The brand was actually created as a marketing scheme to compete with Clos du Mesnil by Krug. 

More champagne tasting!

Adriana, an awesome classmate and fellow Disney fan, bought some champagne to surprise her friend who's visiting Paris this week. Champagne and wine are go-to gifts/souvenirs.

Here's Cindy, Hellena and I in front of the Mercier vineyard.

This was definitely the best field trip ever. What other class allows you to explore your appreciation for champagne!




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Gwen Lee

<p>Salut! Je m&#39;appelle Gwen. I am a sophomore at Babson College and currently about 11% fluent in French. I hope to remedy that while wining and dining in the beautiful city of Paris. I am majoring in Business with a focus in Marketing. Follow along my stories to experience the ups and downs of studying abroad à Paris!</p>

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