(Picture: Japanese Soprano Satomi Ogawa and German winemaker Egon Müller with Claude Giraud during the last edition of Champagne Henri Giraud’s Atelier)
Champagne Henri Giraud announced the theme for the Atelier N°5 it will hold on 20 April 2015: “Pursuing Excellence”. For this Atelier* that will be devoted to tasting the Argonne 2014 ‘vins clairs’, Claude Giraud will host the creators of great Handmade Vintage Sparkling wines including Raventos (Spain), Gusbourne (England) and Ca’ del Bosco (Italy), for a record attendance edition with close to 250 experts coming from more than 20 countries. Here is an interview with Claude Giraud, CEO of Champagne Henri Giraud:
Bringing Handmade Vintage Sparkling wines to Champagne…A dangerous game?
Claude Giraud: “Champagne must break out of its isolation and take up its role as a global leader of fine wines. With that objective, Atelier N°5 will bring together and highlight the expertise of men and women who are passionate about their terroir and who put all their energy into the quest for excellence. Champagne must use that contagious passion that is unquestionably a part of all great terroirs around the world that produce great wines. To snub other major wine-producing regions, other great winemakers, other great terroirs in France and abroad, particularly sparkling wine-producing regions, would be a major faux-pas.”
Why did you consider this initiative?
Claude Giraud: “Yes, the terroir of Champagne is exceptional. Yes, the genius of the people there is at the source of the effervescent methods. But like Champagne, all sparkling wines from a terroir should not be lumped together with industrially produced sparkling wines. Despite repeated efforts, the opinion that prevails in Champagne rubs people the wrong way and leads to protests and an unfortunate spirit of competition. Recent, highly publicized tastings that mixed and compared anything and everything are what have led me to speak out today – it is time to set the record straight. Repeating the “Judgment of Paris” in this day and age would be ridiculous and counterproductive! Decidedly, great wines can’t be compared; they are rich in their differences; their terroir, the philosophy, the grape varieties, wine-making processes and wine-makers’ sensibilities are all different and that is why we love them. Champagne must now back away from the one-upmanship, get down off its pedestal before it falls off and begin being what it is again, a great wine among other great wines.”
Is it a way to put the Champagne Committee’s initiative into perspective?
Claude Giraud: “We need these precious moments for sharing and reflecting, Atelier N°5 is another reminder of Champagne Henri Giraud’s commitment to supporting the CIVC (Champagne Committee) initiative “Champagne 2030, a Return to Excellence.” This is the meaning behind our new Atelier: bringing together great handmade vintage sparkling wines from France and around the world in Champagne to open our horizons to the modern strategy for Champagne. These wines come from sustainable, organic or natural agriculture, and above and beyond that, they are remarkable for the passion, energy and intelligence that they communicate and the winemakers’ commitment to expressing their terroir and their culture. That is where excellence lies, in these shared values that unite great wines from around the world and are the only true criteria for the 21st century.”
*Atelier N°5 will take place in Aÿ at Champagne Henri Giraud. The tasting will start with Argonne 2014 ‘vin clairs’ to better appreciate the Terroirs d’Argonne effect on wines. Each year, this tasting strengthens the idea of a forest terroir, adds a new dimension to the traceability of cask oak and opens up new fields in which to experiment and progress. Champagne Henri Giraud, in partnership with the ONF, the French forestry commission, supports the “For ever and ever, ARGONNE” operation through which it helps protect the Argonne Forest and the Champagne region’s heritage.