The three branches of the Rothschild family,
all descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild
(1743-1818): Baron Éric de Rothschild (Ch.
Lafite); Baronne Ariane, wife of Baron Benjamin
de Rothschild, far right (Ch. Clarke, Edmond de
Rothschild Group); in center, Philippe Sereys de
Rothschild, and Baronne Philippine de Rothschild
(Ch. Mouton).
L
uxury branding in any product
category is never a simple func-
tion of pricing. And image alone
cannot prevail without quality.
True luxury, in wine especially, hinges both
on product and pedigree. In Champagne
Barons de Rothschild, the wine world
now has a remarkable brand that not only
epitomizes the famously high standards of
the world’s greatest sparkling wine, it also
manages to add a fresh chapter to one of
Europe’s most renowned family legacies.
It would not be quite right to charac-
terize Champagne Barons de Rothschild as
“new.” The idea was hatched, fittingly at a
gathering of the family, in 2003. It debuted
quietly in France, Australia, Japan and Ger-
many in 2009; extended to 10 more mar-
kets in 2010; and reached the U.S. in tiny
quantities in late 2011. But that is all part
of the brand vision, which has been any-
thing but fast and flashy—and rooted firmly
in family. Indeed, the Champagne marks
the first-ever collaborative wine venture for
the three branches of the Rothschild tree
(which dates back to 1743). Knowing that
they would be layering this project on top
of three distinct business entities and a
collective reputation, it is no surprise that
they chose to follow a patient course of
development unswerving in the pursuit of
top-of-the-class excellence.
Why Champagne? Start with the fact
that they all love it. Secondly, with its
emphasis both on terroir and blending in
creating wine of the highest quality, Cham-
pagne parallels Bordeaux, an established
area of Rothschild expertise. Upon this
foundation, the family aimed to ensure
that the wine fit seamlessly into the Cham-
pagne tradition and community, and re-
flected the family’s motto, represented by
the coat of arms on the bottles reading
“Concordia—Industria—Integritas.”
Highest Standards
Development of Champagne Barons de
Rothschild began, quite naturally in the
vineyards, and with a clear vision of house
style. The family teamed with growers in
Côtes des Blancs and Montagne de Reims,
securing fruit exclusively from Premier
Cru and Grand Cru rated vineyards. The
grape sourcing coincided with the deci-
sion to make a Chardonnay-driven house
style; while only 28% of the total vineyard
acreage in Champagne, the family’s cuvées
each contain 60% or more of Chardon-
nay—widely acknowledged as the varietal
heart of the region’s most elegant wines.
Other keys to ensuring top quality
from the very start: for purity of character,
an extremely low
dosage
—between 5 and 8
grams/liter of sugar (most houses use 10
grams or more); an unusually high percent-
age (40%) of reserve wines; and long aging
in bottle—about four years, including four
to nine months after disgorgement. Spe-
cially selected yeasts, small fermentation
tanks (30 and 60 hl capacity as opposed to
the 200-300 hl norm) and a dedicated op-
eration just for the Verzenay red wine used
in blending of the rosé also speak to the
meticulous production process.
While Philippe Sereys de Rothschild
(son of Philippine) has assumed the role
of the family’s Champagne spokesperson,
to ensure that the project maximized
resources and achieved their exceptional
goals, the family hired two industry
veterans to oversee day-to-day operations.
Frédéric Mairesse, the managing director,
previously worked at Domaines Paul
Jaboulet Aîné in the Rhône, at Ch. La
Lagune in Bordeaux and for a dozen
years at leading Champagne houses. Jean-
Philippe Moulin, chief winemaker, was
previously the cellar master at Perrier-Jouët,
Mumm and Ruinart.
Among the recent tasks undertaken by
Mairesse is the establishment of the brand’s
headquarters in Reims (which, fittingly,
has been furnished with items contributed
by each family branch) and a guest house
by the production facility in Montagne de
Reims. His greatest challenge ahead will be
to guide the trickle of bottles to a global
market, and gauging the optimum retail,
restaurant and resort outlets. Here in the
U.S., distribution is being handled exclu-
sively by Pasternak Wine Imports.
n
BRAND
PROFILE
‘All In’ for the Rothschild Family
Three Branches Unite, for the First Time Ever,
to Create Superlative Champagne
BY W. R. TISH
The Champagne Barons de Rothschild trio
includes, from left: Blanc de Blancs (100%
Chardonnay; SRP $125); Rosé (made
with 5% red wine; $125); and Brut (60%
Chardonnay; $100).
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