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May 18, 2022

Farming for the Next Generation w/ Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Champagne Roederer & Xavier Barlier, MMD

Farming for the Next Generation w/ Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Champagne Roederer & Xavier Barlier, MMD

As a 7th generation family-owned and run company, being sustainable means building towards the future for the next generations.


As a 7th generation family-owned and run company, being sustainable means building towards the future for the next generations. That’s the philosophy that has led Champagne Louis Roederer to move towards organic farming with biodynamic and permaculture principles since 2000. With 100% of its historic estate (50% of total vineyard holdings) certified organic, this process has had a significant impact on the quality of the fruit and wines as well as the bottom line. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, EVP and Chef du Cave at Champagne Louis Roederer and Xavier Barlier, SVP of Marketing and Communications of Maison Marques & Domaines USA (Roederer’s import arm), tell us about this transition, strategy, and its market positioning. 

 

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Detailed Show Notes: 

Beginning in 2000, started moving farming towards organic, including some biodynamic and permaculture philosophies

Organic is just stopping the use of herbicides and pesticides, but that’s it

Biodynamic practices for JBL are less about Rudolph Steiner’s philosophy but more about paying attention to the land and ecosystem, aligned more with the permaculture movement

About adding life back into the soil and building fertility, which comes with decreased use of copper and sulfur that are used in organic farming

We can do this at Roederer because it’s a family-owned business with 7 generations, building for the next generation and the future

Roederer does its own massale selection, own rootstocks, and compost

Impact on growers

  • Impacts more the future generation of growers, need to educate them
  • Roederer single-vineyard ferments everything and tastes the growers on their own vineyards
  • Assigned a Roederer enologist dedicated to grower relations

Organic trends in Champagne

  • 20 years ago - <1%
  • 10 years ago - 2.5%
  • Last year (2021) - ~8-9%
  • A result of the new generation coming into viticulture

More expensive to farm organically/biodynamically

  • More labor-intensive - need to be available 7 days/week
  • Increased workforce by 15% due to more labor needs

Yield has decreased due to new farming

  • Up to 30% yield reduction in some years
  • The 10-year average is ~5-10% reduction in yield

Marketing organics - plays into desires to support the environment

Roederer began organics in 2000 with 6ha -> in 2020, 125ha (50% of estate)

  • Organically certified vineyards are 100% of the historic estate
  • Organic vineyards are the Cristal and Vintage wines

The future of Champagne - maybe more of all 7 permitted varieties will play a role, with more of a focus on the genetic material of the vines

 

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