Unlike many of the stories behind the top 10 Champagne brands, the history of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, does not trace back to the illustrious 19th century, but instead is a very modern story of success. This brand is maybe the most phenomenally successful, in the shortest period of time, of any Champagne brand, showing a meteoric rise to fame.
About Nicolas Feuillatte
Created as recently as 1976, by a successful business man and entrepreneur, Nicolas Feuillatte, and sold to the massive Cave Vinicole de Champagne in 1982, this brand has come from nowhere to being the 3rd largest Champagne brand in the UK. Ten years ago, it was making timid inroads into supermarket distribution; now it dominates.
The CVC as it is own, is still a cooperative, with over 80 members, but with over 2000 hectares of vines at their disposal (7% of total Champagne vineyards), and controlling over 50% of total Champagne supply, the Nicolas Feuillatte brand has been well poised to take the market by storm, unrestricted by availability or volume.
Feuillatte is driving sales, through a powerful marketing and sales campaign, with frequent keenly-priced offers in store, and a real focus on the off trade, rather than on the restaurant side of the industry.
Nicolas Feuillate's History
Less than 40 years ago, Nicolas Feuillatte, a French businessman, who had made his fortune in the US, decided to purchase 12 hectares of vineyard and create his own brand. In 1976, the brand was established, and with Feuillatte’s connections, swiftly became a success with A listers in Europe and the US, including Jackie Onassis-Kennedy.
At a similar time, the Centre Vinicole de la Champagne, an association of wine growers and producers, was starting to make its mark under the inspirational leadership of its president Henri Macquart. During the 1970s and 80s, it became the most powerful Champagne co-operative with over 80 of the 140 growers as members, facilitating production and bottling facilities.
In 1986, the contrasting worlds of the successful, wealthy, international entrepreneur, and the local, production and grower-focussed cooperative, came together in an unlikely partnership, with the eagle-eyed Feuillatte spotting an opportunity, and sold the brand to the Co-operative, although he remained a brand ambassador.
With over 2250 hectares of vines at their disposal, and a strong brand name to drive them, the union of Nicolas Feuillatte and Cave Vinicole de Champagne, inevitably catapulted the brand to monumental success the world over, being one of the few brands or companies that had such huge access to grape volume and vineyards.
Early days in the UK focussed on the off trade, with key deals driving supermarket listings, and the benefits of the large scale operation behind the brand are still to be seen in the keen pricing that often enables some of the strongest promotions in the market. In recent years, the Feuillatte brand has pulled back slightly in terms of promotion, and is also focussed on building its more premium brand range, and quality positioning.
What Styles of Champagne do Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Produce?
Nicolas Feuillatte produce one of the broadest ranges of Champagnes, from non vintage, to varietal specific vintages, and superb premium Champagnes.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV – a frequent award winner in major UK wine competitions, this Champagne clearly demonstrates the skill of the producers, with its universally acclaimed quality. Predominantly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, it’s full flavoured, vibrant, and powerful, with a rich, toasty, biscuit edge.
Nicolas Feuillatte Grande Reserve NV – aged for an additional year, this is a rich, creamy, toasty Champagne, with 25% Chardonnay in the blend, to add finesse and elegance to the rich fruit of Pinot Noir and the freshness and nerviness of Pinot Meunier.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve NV – with its easily recognisable blue label, this classic blend, is one of the most familiar in the wine aisles; predominantly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but with 20% creamy Chardonnay, it’s a classic example of a great value, ripe, balanced, enchanting non vintage Champagne.
Nicolas Feuillatte Rose NV – a bold, ripe, powerful style of Rose, produced predominantly from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with only 10% Chardonnay, but with almost 20% red wine added, which accounts for its rich, pink colour. Lively, exuberant, and fresh, it has bold, red berry fruit flavours.
Nicolas Feuillatte Demi Sec NV – a well rounded, off-dry ‘demi-sec’ style, with a similar blend to the house style, but which is balanced with a slightly higher dosage of sugar, to give a ripe, fruit-driven, soft, an gentle style of Champagne.
Nicolas Feuillatte Vintage – based on a similar house blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay – richness, elegance, and a bold, fleshy, toasty flavour that envelops and lingers.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Chardonnay Vintage – an unusual blend for Feuillatte, with 100% Chardonnay, which provides, subtlety, fragrance, delicacy, and creaminess in this unique blend, which has been aged for 6 years – stylish, lingering and complex, with a real delicacy of touch.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Extrem’ – a real eye-opener and innovator; a bone dry Champagne, with zero dosage, made almost entirely from Chardonnay grapes – alluring, zingy, tongue-tingling and fresh, yet with the creamy delicacy inherent in Chardonnay – a vibrant, can’t be missed, aperitif!
Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee Speciale Vintage – this award winning vintage Champagne, has a higher proportion of Chardonnay (40%) than many of the Feuillatte blends, is aged for 5 years, and has a ripe, elegant, richly toasty character and complexity.
Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Chardonnay vintage – a unique expression of Chardonnay from the very best vineyards in the Cote des blancs – delicate, elegant, yet rich with its age, it has a sumptuous, creamy, yet delicate citrus and floral elegance.
Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Pinot Noir vintage – from top vineyards and purely Pinot Noir, aged for 6 years, this is a rich, powerful, structured Champagne, with lots of intensity, toasty ripeness and complexity.
Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or vintage – this is the pinnacle of the Nicolas Feuillatte brand, in its traditional, dumpy bottle, with a unique chequered pattern on the bottle. It’s a blend of 50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with 9 years ageing, always vintage and made only in the very best years, from the very best vineyards. This is the true definition of style, quality and recognition from the Feuillatte house. There is also a Palmes d’Or rose.