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Champagne de Castelnau undergoes image revamp

Published:  10 June, 2016

Champagne de Castelnau is heading in a new ultra modern direction for its centenary with the launch of its first prestige cuvée.

Harpers caught up with Champagne de Castelnau at the launch of their new prestige cuvée which marks a new "modern" direction for the 100-year-old Champagne house.

Pascal Prudhomme, director general of Champagne de Castelnau, explained that the Reims-based house is celebrating 100 years in the business via Hors Catégorie, which marks the beginning of a new chapter for the established brand. 

"Hors Catégorie is the flagship of a new long-term commitment for us. We knew we had to improve - not the quality but our image. The end of the century is a good time to do that. Champagne de Castelnau is not a well known brand; Hors Catégorie could re-launch it," he said.

Sold in indies and the on-trade - including on board with British Airways - Champagne de Castelnau's ultimate objective with this new direction is to increase its visibility.

But having turned down listings in the UK's "big four", their strategy is tempered by a desire to retain an element of exclusivity.

"We're not big in nightclubs where the quality isn't really important but the brand is. We supply aeroplanes and exclusive members clubs. Air travel allows us to be visible and allow passengers in first and business class to discover the brand. Agility is necessary for a brand," Prudhomme added.

"There are different demands on Champagne. Some people only buy it for the name, others because its easy to drink, others like it for gastronomic purposes, others buy cheap pouring champagne. Champagne de Castelnau has its own strategy."

Export area manager Thomas Jorez agreed that increasing visibility was paramount.

"We haven't reached the point yet where people pick up our Champagne off the shelf," he said. "There is a certain ceiling that you cannot break. At that price you're not going to choose something well known."

The cuvée Hors Catégorie is a limited edition blend with base wines from 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Thirty-five hundred numbered bottles of Hors Catégorie were disgorged in November 2015, with another 5,000 lined up for next year.

The brand practises longer-than-usual lees aging, with their entry-level Champagne Brut Réserve aging on the lees for six years.

Despite being its most premium offering, the prestige cuvee is actually aged for a shorter five years.