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Five minutes with Jean-Pierre Vincent

Jean-Pierre Vincent is head winemaker at Champagne 
Nicolas Feuillatte, one of the youngest champagne houses in France. Vincent speaks of the controversial planned extension 
of the Champagne region, MiNDFOOD reports.

Five minutes with Jean-Pierre Vincent

MiNDFOOD: What are your thoughts on the proposed extension of France’s official legal boundaries to make the Champagne region larger?

It’s a long-term solution and probably appropriate, given not only the increase in demand for champagne but also the tremendous improvements that have been made in recent years in terms of vineyard management and winemaking techniques.

What will happen if the Champagne region’s boundaries are extended?

The region will include several villages that were originally intended to be part of Champagne but were excluded on the basis of historical rivalries. The expansion plan has yet to be fully approved and then we’ll be looking at 10 or 15 years before any real effect of the expansion will be seen, because vineyards will need to be planted and vines allowed to grow.

What is the best outcome of the proposed expansion?

It will enable champagne makers to cope with long-term future demand in a responsible, measured and structured manner. Since champagne is subject to supply and demand, the expansion should reduce undesirable fluctuations in the market through a gentle easing of the pressures on supply.

What will be the worst thing?

The increased vineyard area will mean even longer hours at the winery during harvest time, but I will be long retired by then, so it will be for my successor to manage that.

Where in the world is the best non-Champagne bubbly made?

I have tasted some wonderful sparkling wines from Spain, Italy and England. New Zealand also seems to have succeeded where a lot of other countries have been less successful in making high-quality sparkling wine.

Where in the world is your biggest market?

France is our biggest market, accounting for 55 per cent of turnover. It has been a cultural thing to drink champagne since the beginning of the 17th 
century yet, paradoxically, Nicolas Feuillatte is still 
only 30 years old.

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