The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2014

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Page 46 of 148

46  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2014 INTRO-VINOUS F ounded in Aÿ in 1921, Champagne Collet has been making a line of Champagnes for decades that have been characterized as over-delivering quality for price, yet few wine consumers in the United States have heard about Collet or uncorked a bottle of it. That is about to change. "It would be immodest to say that we are the best Champagne, but we can say that we are a unique Champagne with a unique story," says Olivier Charriaud, who in 2011 was hired by Collet as Director General to tell that story. A long-time executive at Rémy Cointreau, Charriaud headed the world- wide re-launch of the Cointreau brand in the late 1990s and thus understands global marketing strategy, branding and positioning. Bertrand Glory, formerly of Nicolas Feuillatte, was brought in as Commercial and Marketing Director, and industry veteran Jeff Bevan was named Vice President, Collet USA. "Before me, the emphasis was all on production," Charriaud says. "Now we want to tell our story, and we know that Americans are fascinated by histories." The history of Champagne Collet was that it was founded in 1921 as a cooperative after the bloody Champagne riots in Aÿ, where growers took to the streets to protest producers importing grapes from outside the area to make Champagne. Today, Champagne Collet is a stand-alone maison within the larger umbrella of COGEVI—the Coopérative Générale des Vignerons—and Winemaker Sébastien Walasiak produces 11 different Collet labels or cuvées. Collet's renaissance included newly designed labels that reflect "not only the stylized geometric form of the Art Déco aesthetic, but also the carefree pleasures of the 1920s." Its positioning is to sell its Champagnes "from connoisseur to connoisseur." In June, Collet had a three-day inauguration of its "La Cité du Champagne Collet" inside Aÿ with a street fair for its growers, the townspeople and the media. The new enclave includes Collet's historic cellars, new tasting facilities, offices and the beginnings of a wine museum. Currently, Collet is represented in key markets by Opici Wines, Louis Glunz and Johnson Brothers and is the Champagne pour at Bern's Steak House. "We first launched during the last recession," Bevan says, which slowed things down, "but we got the attention of a lot of sommeliers. Now people are coming to us." Bertrand Glory, Commercial and Marketing Director for Champagne Collet, with Chef des Caves Sébastien Walasiak, who crafts the brand's 11 different cuvées. Telling the Story CHAMPAGNE COLLET'S NEW ATTITUDE AMPS UP ITS PROFILE IN THE U.S. MARKET by Roger Morris

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