Nicolas Feuillatte, biggest co-op in Champagne

Jan 30, 15 Nicolas Feuillatte, biggest co-op in Champagne

Everyone likes to talk about the grand marquees of Champagne, your Vueves and your Taittingers but the big houses are not the only players in Champagne. Like other regions, Champagne also has co-ops and one of the biggest in France is Nicolas Feuillatte. It is the largest co-op in Champagne with over 5,000 growers supplying grapes for their champagnes. They produce 20 million bottles a year and export to over 80 countries world wide.

The original co-op was created in the early 1970’s and was called The Centre Vinicole de la Champagne. However, it was not until Nicolas Feuillatte the man himself became involved with the co-op that the co-op’s name was officially changed in 1986 when Feuillatte agreed to let the co-op re-brand as Nicolas Feuillatte.

aging on the lees

aging on the lees

Since then, they’ve become known for their modern style of champagnes. I tasted through their range with their cellar master, David Henault and was very pleasantly surprised at the quality and lightness of the champagnes. Although the champagnes all have around 10 grams per litre of sugar, David says that although wine journalists like bone dry champagnes, it’s his experience that tells him that consumers like champagne with a bit of sugar. His champagnes are not sweet by any stretch of the imagination, they are fresh and fruity and nicely balanced. Feuillatte are known for their non-vintage champagnes which account for more than 90% of their production.

ready for disgorgement

ready for disgorgement

That said, however, they do produce prestige cuvees and the 2006 brut Chardonnay was David’s first vintage at Feuillatte. David doesn’t believe in fining his champagnes and this one was very fresh with brioche toasty notes and a nice long nutty finish. I found it to be very enjoyable and it is also now available at Waitrose in the UK, retailing for £34.99. At that price, this is a very good value champagne.

David Henault, Chief Wiwnemaker

David Henault, Chief Wiwnemaker

As their non-vintage is the most widely produced and distributed, I had to try it. The verdict, it was very good, fruity with surprisingly soft bubbles and a very long finish. Sometimes, non-vintage champagnes can have quite bitter or short finishes but I didn’t find any of this in their non-vintage. Retailing at £32.99, it’s another good deal but as the difference in price is only £2, I’d go for the 2006.

Feuillatte also produce a tasty brut rosé, I’m always a sucker for rosés and this one was a lovely drop. David makes his rosé with a majority of pinot muenier which is unusual for brut rosé, most using a majority pinot noir. A delicious champagne, full of strawberries and red fruit. I have to mention that the colour as well was a gorgeous salmon colour, very pretty in the glass.

I visited Feuillatte as a guest of the co-op but they are open to the general public and offer tours by appointment for groups or individuals. They advise to book in advance although on the weekends it is possible to join a tour. The tours start at 7 euros for individuals and 5.50 euros for groups and include a glass of champagne at the end. There is also the option to buy champagne and other champagne related paraphanelia after the tour in their small gift shop. For more information, visit their website.

 

 

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