Interview Claude Giraud (CEO Champagne Henri Giraud): “The issue of Zero Pesticide created shock waves last November, it is now a glimmer of hope”


In the wine world many a column inch was taken up with the issue of “Zero Pesticide” at the end of 2017. The announcement of a world-first initiative by Champagne Henri Giraud created such shock waves, it prompted CEO Claude Giraud to take the approach even further by suggesting a universally-recognisable sign of trust available to winegrowers the world over in the form of a logo 👌 combined with a QR Code giving access to a full molecular analysis of the wine. Let’s take a closer look at a move which will undoubtedly herald a new era in the wine world.

What was it that inspired you to create this sign of trust?

Claude Giraud: “The article in Decanter opened our eyes to something fans of fine wines had really become very passionate about: they want a concrete commitment to more transparency. They demand it of champagne houses of course, but also, on a wider level, of the châteaux and the domaines. This “Zero Pesticide” was an electroshock for many wine professionals and for a public ever more concerned about its well-being. The article enabled us to start new and fruitful discussions and that gave us the idea of going even further. The posts on social media, the letters and the e-mails we have received have affected us; 100% of you would prefer to see results rather than procedures. So we are going to go even further this January by providing access to a complete molecular analysis of our wines via a QR Code on our labels.

Natural, organic – what do you think of the debate now raging in the press?

Claude Giraud: “We have to stop pitting so-called natural wines against others, organic against others. This is a moot point. It is as sterile a debate as the shape of the glass in which you should enjoy your champagne. By what right and to what end should we – the champagne houses – be able to dictate to consumers the shape of the glass from which they should drink the champagne they love? Let the consumer choose for themselves whether they want to enjoy their Champagne in a flute, a coupe or any other recipient! The reality is the consumer couldn’t care less about this kind of thing. On the other hand, he wants to know what he’s putting in the glass and he wants to be able to trust it. Let’s get back to basics – the obligation to deliver results, not set up procedures. We need to restore consumer confidence and peace of mind. People should be confident when choosing a fine wine. For us, this is achieved through this logo 👌 – hand making an “OK” sign, combined with a QR Code which redirects you straight to a full analysis of the wine. This sign of trust – a logo 👌 and a QR Code – is not only intended for champagne houses and winegrowers in the Champagne region. It is a glimmer of hope for all winegrowers around the world who are more interested in results than procedures. This logo, open to all, enables them to say: “Here is the analysis of the wine you are going to be tasting. You can choose it with confidence because it confirms it is harmless. ” It’s as simple as that.

Is this sign of trust the end of the matter for you?

Claude Giraud: “It is the result of more than 30 years of research so we’re not going to stop now. We are only at the beginning of this path of humility. We are in regular contact with those winegrowers around the world whose wines are found alongside our Champagnes in the world’s best restaurants. I have learned a lot from my friends at Ca’ del Bosco, Raventos, Gusbourne and the Taille aux Loups Domaine who make magnificent sparkling wines (watch the film ‘The Path of Humility‘). Naturally you have to follow your instinct and forge your own path, your own journey. Look back, of course; but above all look forward and think of the future. The world of “grand vins” is changing because the clientèle is changing. All around the world the new generation is shaking up the habits of the previous generations. We first grasped the size of this change with the new generation in Asia. And it is by interacting with these fans of the Henri Giraud Domaine that we understood this need for authenticity; more than our style, our history and our know-how, they like Henri Giraud because they can choose our champagnes with complete confidence. This is the road we will be following over the coming centuries.