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  • Writer's pictureThe Butler

How the Drappier family is building its success in Champagne

This champagne from the Aube region appeals to both the initiated and the general public. Behind the highly recommendable vintages, in the spirit of the times, a whole family is moving forward in battle order.

Sometimes, the Drappiers feel far from everything. There is nothing within an hour of our home," explains Charline Drappier, "You have to go to Troyes. To break the isolation, to entertain, they will open six rooms including a suite, as well as a restaurant. The project is launched, they are already looking for a chef, "even if my mother will have a hard time letting go of the kitchen. She prepares succulent leg of lamb, simmered dishes. We will have to keep this spirit with the future cook", remarks her daughter Charline. Whatever happens, it is Hugo, Charline's brother, who will continue to supply the table with fruits and vegetables from his garden and eggs from his chickens. Otherwise, Hugo manages the technical part of the production. On her side, Charline works on marketing and communication. Their father, Michel, is on all fronts. Here, we work as a family, from the vineyard to the tastings organized around the world. On Saturday mornings, each member of the family takes turns running the Urville boutique, where Belgians and locals come to stock up on bubbles.

Drappier is a brand that is talked about more and more each year. It was General de Gaulle's champagne, but the new generation doesn't really care. What pleases the thirty and forty year olds who swear by it is its taste. Here is a quality wine that comes in different vintages, each more attractive than the other. The brut nature, with no added sugar, is a hit: "When we brought it out in 1990, we never thought we would have this success. Today, it represents 30% of our production," explains Michel Drappier. It all started with a bottle opened by mistake for a sommelier visiting us. The bottle was intended for our personal consumption. On the label was written André and Michel, my father's first name and mine. The sommelier asked us for 120 bottles, and then he had the chef Yves Camdeborde and his gang taste it. A group of fans was created", says Michel Drappier.

The Drappier motto: remain independent and free

The Grande Sendrée 2012, a prestige cuvée, can compete with the finest pins in the appellation. Each year, the wine is made from a selection of the best parcels of the estate. Its price, remains very reasonable, compared to those charged by the competition, with equal quality. There is also the rosé, with its dark color, against the current trends, and then the classic cuvée. Of course, the demand is strong.

The Drappiers could sell twice as much wine as they produce. The 65 hectares of vineyards are not enough, the family buys the equivalent elsewhere, but everything is vinified by the house. The current euphoria of the champagne market surprises Michel Drappier: "It is the first time since the 1950s that the economic situation of the producers, faced with a constant demand, is disconnected from the world economic situation, which is not so good. This is probably related to the fact that people everywhere have started to drink champagne as a wine, outside the celebration. Even on the plane, passengers are asking for more than before. Americans, on the other hand, like it more and more. But you have to keep a cool head. All the people of Champagne know that, for three centuries, meteorology and geopolitics have made our vineyard suffer a lot."

The Drappiers are adapting to the new situation and investing. The new production unit under construction will be self-sufficient in energy. The company is now carbon neutral. "Our current revenues allow us to work on the vineyard, the cellars, the stocks." They sell themselves in 112 countries, "many of which I've never been to," admits Michel Drappier. But our first expense after the purchase of grapes, whose price will increase this year by 50%, is related to the payment of inheritance tax. It's very expensive, but it's the price we have to pay to remain independent and free to do what we want, as a family. That's our way of looking at it."

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