Guillaume Jourdan on #WineWednesday – The Crazy Gamble of the World’s Greatest Bubblies


You need only sit round a table and discuss the history of a bubbly (while tasting it of course) to realise how difficult it is to make this kind of wine around the world. As could be said for any type of wine you might say. I am not so sure. Is it not the craziest idea to try to produce a Handmade Vintage Sparkling wine elsewhere in the full knowledge that one single region in the entire world – Champagne – has a global monopoly on Excellence in the eyes of the consumer. With wine there have always been historic production sites that have dominated the market (whether in France where, it is true, Bordeaux very much held the upper hand some 20 years ago, in Italy or in Spain…). Anyone who aspires to produce a Handmade Vintage Sparkling wine will have to face being instantly compared to the only region in the world which is seen as the standard-setter. Pretty difficult wouldn’t you say?

Even looking at Europe alone, a tour of those who have made their mark in this universe shows just how difficult it is to get your name known. Of course when it comes to Handmade Vintage Sparkling wines, Champagne managed to build an extraordinary model well before the rest of the world even if it is sometimes called into question (read the WSJ article). But Champagne will always be Champagne and the region’s mark is imprinted firmly and permanently on this category of wine, the market for which is currently booming around the world.

Cross over to Italy, to where they make Franciacorta, and talk to those who turned Ca’ del Bosco into a success story. They had to build this appellation up bit by bit, first to get it recognised in Italy and now for it to be renowned abroad. How many years did it take until we saw Andrea Bocelli and Sharon Stone with a glass of Ca’ del Bosco as occurred in the tabloid press last week during Celebrity Fight Night? Given the boom in the sparkling wine known as Prosecco, Franciacorta has to carve out a space for itself and a name like Ca’ del Bosco has to keep producing vintages like the magnificent 1979, just recently tasted, to prove its greatness to the world.

So what, then, should we make of the move by Pepe Raventos and his father Manuel who have dropped the Cava appellation to create their own one, Conca del Riu? They are applying very strict criteria, sometimes even stricter than that of Champagne (watch the video with Pepe Raventos), to define and produce excellence in their region and from their terroirs. Would you not have to be crazy to do such a thing rather than simply, and with relatively little effort, benefit from the dynamic of a developing region? Conca del Riu still has a long way to go but the Raventos family has the time because it knows how complicated and constraining it is to stand out from the crowd. And they are reminded of it every day incidentally…

And what about producing a fine sparkling wine in England? This made many French laugh (and maybe some are still laughing now). “What? Produce a fine sparkling wine in England? You must be joking!” they chuckled by the fireside. All very well but, global warming or not, there are some ardent fans such as Andrew Weeber from the Gusbourne estate who had the foresight to see that great sparkling wines could be produced in Kent and Sussex. Not only is the quality there but the awards pile up year after year. They don’t buy in any grapes; they only use their own as they turn out vintage sparkling wines that should be left to lie for as long as possible for the best results.

There are examples like these all around the world. And they are putting an enormous effort into gaining international recognition. It is a bit like the “Super Tuscans” which competed for such a long time against the greatest Bordeaux and which struggled to earn a place for themselves for decades. Nowadays the fine wines of Antinori (Solaia, Tignanello) and many others are recognised as just that and their image has grown among those who buy fine wines (read the post “Within 10 years, new names will enter the list of the 25 most powerful brands in the fine wine market“). It takes Courage, Perseverance and always a vision of Excellence.

Watch the new teaserThe secrets of GUSBOURNE” before the launch of the Film “The Path of Humility” due to be released on October 23, 2015.

(*Since 2003, Guillaume Jourdan has been advising more than 200 prestigious wine estates for their international marketing & communication strategy incl. Chapoutier, Hugel, Dr Loosen, Famille Perrin, Cos d’Estournel, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s Miraval…Write to