Hello, it’s been a while. I’m out of practise, rusty, or perhaps tarnished is a better word. I’m easing myself back in, gently, delicately, so as not to judge my poor writing until it has time to find itself again. And so, I interviewed Anne Gremillet, the fantastic woman behind the Champagne brand that I recently discovered, or recently discovered me, discovered is perhaps too grander word. Anne is someone I met through Instagram, where I have met all sorts of wonderful people, many of which I will tell you about soon. Champagne isn’t huge, but it’s made up of an awful lot of cogs and gears. Occasionally, it’s good to stop and find out a bit more about the people behind the names, so here is a little dip into the life of Anne Gremillet.
Tell me about your life up until now in a nutshell?
I was born in Balnot sur Laignes, in the middle of the vineyards!
After some studies in business school, I worked in marketing in cosmetics in Paris. After a while, I came back to the village to work with the family.
My brother, Jean-Christophe, had already joined the family business three years earlier. Then our respective spouses joined also. The whole family is involved in our house.
My brother and I have both two kids (between 10 & 16 years of age) and we hope one of them at least will join also in the future.
How did you get into wine?
I would put it the other way round: The wine got into me!
When you’re born in Champagne, it’s part of your world.
On the professional side, when I came back to the domaine, I did a Master of international wine & spirit business.
It gave me a whole new perspective on the business, winemaking, tasting, commercial & especially marketing approach.
Since the house needed a new marketing & communication strategy, I didn’t hesitate too long.
Did you grow up knowing you wanted to follow in your father’s footsteps?
Not at all. Actually, I tend to escape from the vineyards!
I was more attracted by the cosmetics & perfumes industry were I worked for a while in marketing. But in the end, I realised the champagne industry was pretty similar after all.
Have there been any challenges as a woman in wine?
Not really. I feel that things have been moving the right way. Today, the wine industry is quite mixed. Maybe men work more on the technical side, women in sales & marketing.
What makes your vineyards stand out from other vineyards?
We have 48 hectares spread across the Côte des Bar. It’s quite unique for a Champagne house.
A big part of it is on Les Riceys village, which is one of the best terroir for Pinot Noir.
What is the wine making philosophy at Champagne Gremillet?
Work hard to express our terroir and bring great champagne on your table at a fair price. 29 pounds for 95 pts Decanter Magazine isn’t too bad!
The key word of our champagne is “the freshness” , we want easy wine to drink. When you have a glass, you feel like another one, see what I mean?
(I do see exactly what Anne means, it’s addictive)
What are the biggest challenges in your industry?
As a family house, thriving in a market were competitors are multinational companies pouring millions in marketing.
The champagne market is one of a kind.
Tell me what you’re excited about, what does the future hold?
As you know, the Clos Rocher, our first cuvée prestige has been launched in September. It’s the result of seven years of patience and savoir-faire.
We’re thrilled to share it with our friends and partners worldwide. Unfortunately, there won’t be for everyone, it’s only a small production!
On the subject of Clos Rocher, can you give me the story behind this magnificent wine?
Creating an enclosed vineyard has always been my father’s dream. He finally built it around our finest parcel. It is a 1.4 hectare area exclusively planted with Pinot Noir vines, surrounded by stone walls and wrought iron railings. Perfectly oriented south southwest and ideally drained. It’s clay & limestone terroir gives it incredible aromas and high acidity, which allows for a seven year ageing process.
It’s the jewel of the house.
The production for this 2013 vintage is 2,672 numbered bottles.
And that, my readers, is what makes Clos Rocher exceptional because, exclusivity is and always will be, sexy.