Cover Story WINE.LUXE Cover People ｜ 2017 Nov - Dec
The Inheritance of Knowledge Champagne Sanger
Making a prime quality Champagne is not easy! Thanks to the great determination, innovation, the elite winemaking skills of the winemakers and cellar masters, the Champagne exudes in poise palate and refined bubbles. Otherwise, the severely cool climate will harm the growth of grapes. Champagne Sanger is one of the classic house in Champagne region, which has allowed the student, teachers and professionals of Winegrowing school of Avize to create the astonishing wine together for ninety years. Nicolas Robert, the current Operation Direction of Champagne Sanger and Winegrowing school of Avize, as well as one of the veteran wine master, who believes Champagne is the representation of precious culture that deserve to inherit forever.
WL:WineLuxe NR: Nicholas Robert
WL: Nicolas, could you explain us how Champagne Sanger plays an influential role to Champagne region?
NR: Champagne Sanger is known as “Champagne made by Champenois”, it has trained and taught over 85% aspiring Champagne makers professionally for 90 years. Throughout the continuous opportunities of learning and practices, most of the students grasp the profound wine-making skills. Part of the alumni even create stunning Champagne for their self-name brands or prestigious wine houses. In terms of cultural inheritance and the spread of image, Champagne Sanger offers enormous effort for Champagne region.
WL: What major lessons have you learnt in terms of being a former student and teacher of Avize?
NR: In fact, I could not be a skilled wine-maker without the direction of the teachers. The school has made me to understand Champagne is not a fine product for sales. In contrary, it is alive. It has different charismas as human, and evolve through continuous competitions and new techniques. After being a teacher, I always teach students with the combination of the knowledge I learnt before and new ideas and new techniques. While tasting with my students’ collection (no matter the products from Sanger or from other wineries), I feel very proud they totally apply my theories to make these distinctive quality and style wines. Champagne has legendary history, unique characteristics and great techniques, UNESCO even named its slopes, houses and cellars on its world heritage list. Therefore, this significant culture is worth for me to educate the students, as purpose to pass its charisma to the next generations.
WL: How does Champagne Sanger’s working environment encourages students, teacher and cellar master can work closely together for several decades?
NR: Our colleagues come from three hundreds different villages, their different backgrounds arouse different ideas and opinions. Thus, the teachers’ professional leadership guides them to think collectively, evokes their imaginations and generalize their opinions to discuss and make different fine wines. Our company also welcome all members bring grape varieties from their home village, as purpose for investigation, mutual learning and even winemaking. Each Champagne Sanger’s range (no matter Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs or Rosé ) posseses with the huge effort of our members and their own grape varieties, with the open mind education of the teacher , we builds a profound sense of belonging for them while working in Champagne Sanger.
WL: Besides the strong team works of the colleagues, what factor also contributes to the uniqueness and high quality of Sanger’s Champagne?
NR: There are several factors— the finest varieties and meticulous production. Champagne is a small but diversified region, the different terroir, soil texture lead to different characteristics of grapes. Champagne Sanger involves a domain of ten hectares of Chardonnay on three Grand Crus of the Cote des Blancs (Avize, Oger and Cramant), and each Grand Crus Chardonnay are distinct. Moreover, we also buy Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from other villages, where we find the exceptional qualities to produce fine selective types of Champagne. With the detailed management of our winemakers, every grapes from every village is vinified separately, in order to extract their beautiful essence precisely and to offer great diversity to the wine.
WL: How do product ranges of your Champagne possess diversified and refined styles?
NR: Our house has taken pride in the excellence of its cuvées since its establishment— We have Terroir Natal, a very elegant and crispy Blanc de Blancs from areas of Avize, Cramant and Oger; Generosite Noire Brut is a Blanc de Noirs (blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) that gives Voluptuously, full-bodied characteristics. Les Oublies 2005 is a pure Grands Crus Chardonnay from Avize. It expresses itself wonderfully balanced between toasty and fruity. A perfect expression of Chardonnay. Then we have Louis Eugenie, an award winning Champagne vinified in oakwood casks and ageing in bottles at least fifty months, it is an expression of profoundly beautiful essence of each grapes. We also have wide arrays of great ranges. Each of our product are different but they are totally representing the elite work of Winegrowing school of Avize and one significant Champagne house.
WL: As an Operation Director of Champagne Sanger, doyou have any expectation for the future development of the Champagne house?
NR: Lots of effort have been dedicated to transform Champagne Sanger into a beautiful brand, with our entire team from marketing research, packaging and winemaking. Everytime when I hear wine enthusiasts praise our product, it proves every colleague’s effort are paid. This happy news make us eager to focus on brand publicizing at other regions. House of Connoisseur is our Hong Kong agent, I believe he can promote Champagne Sanger in different channels effectively after our mutual understanding, in order to allow local and Asian wine lovers know our beautiful story, winemaking concept, as well as the refined ranges.
WL:WineLuxe NR: Nicholas Robert
NR: 酒莊所有成員來自三百多個不同村莊，基於不同背景出現不同想法和意見，在老師的專業領導能力下，引導他們集體思考和激發想像力，並歸納他們意見來討論製造不同的佳釀。另外酒莊亦歡迎所有成員拿取自己村莊種植的葡萄品種來研究、互相學習，甚至釀造。Sanger每一款酒不論是Blanc de Blancs、Blanc de Noirs、Rosé都擁有酒莊成員的心血和自己葡萄品種，配合老師開放式教育，培養他們對Sanger建立深厚歸屬感。
NR: 有數個原因—優美品種和精準製作。香檳區雖然細小但多元化，不同的氣侯及土壤衍生不同個性葡萄。Sanger酒莊擁有合共十公頃，來自Cote des Blanc三塊Grand Cru田地(分別在Avize、Oger和Cramant)的Chardonnay葡萄。另外我們更從其他村內購買Chardonnay、Pinot Noir和Pinot Meunier，當地的品種風格細緻，更可以釀造其他香檳種類。透過釀酒師一絲不苟的管理，來自每條村落的每款葡萄都是分開釀造，確保提取它們精髓和為葡萄酒塑造多元風格。
NR:自開業以來我們對自己的高級特釀為榮—Terroir Natal是十分優雅和清脆白中白，從Avize、Cramant和Oger三處Grand Cru田地採摘葡萄；Generosite Noire Brut (由Pinot Noir和Pinot Meunier混合釀造)呈現誘人、豐厚個性。Les Oublies 2005完全由Avize的Grand Cru Chardonnay釀成，散發極緻平衡的果味和烤烘風味，可謂最完美的Chardonnay表現；曾經獲獎的Louis Eugenie經橡木桶釀造後於瓶中陳釀至少五十個月，呈現每種葡萄深刻漂亮精髓。我們都有不少其他高品質產品，每款雖然風格相異但同時都代表阿維茲學校的傑出工作表現和一間偉大的香檳酒莊。
NR: 我們所有團隊不論市場推廣、包裝設計、釀酒都盡心把Sanger塑造成美麗品牌，每當我聽見品酒人士對香檳讚口不絕，證明我們每一個員工的努力也沒有白費。因此我們更注重在其他地區宣傳品牌。House of Connoisseur是香港的代理商，經過雙方會面理解後我認為他可以有效地幫助Sanger香檳在不同渠道推廣，讓本地和亞洲品酒愛好者知道我們的故事、釀酒理念、細緻品質系列。