Tsarine Champagne is owned by the Chanoine family, one of the longest established families and Champagne producers in existence. Whilst it is a successful brand, it owes its birth, its style, and part of its legacy to the Russian Imperialist court, for whom it was first created back in the 18th century.
History of Champagne Tsarine
Now owned by the huge Lanson – BCC Champagne group, the Tsarine brand is part of the Chanoine portfolio within the group, which also includes Lanson and Boizel.
The Tsarine brand has always been positioned at a slightly lower price point than many of the top, prestigious brands, such as Lanson, but has enjoyed a good presence both in Europe and the UK, where it is immediately recognisable by its unusual, long-necked, curved column bottle.
Represented within the Lanson portfolio in the UK, Tsarine Champagne has mainly been distributed through wholesalers and independents, with some supermarket presence. The brand has been through an upgrade and repositioning in 2011, with a more focussed and targeted marketing campaign for the brand, soon to be launched.
Tsarine Champagne is a brand owned and created by the Chanoine family, who established the Champagne house of Chanoine Freres in 1730. It is the second oldest Champagne house, and was created by the two brothers Jean-Baptiste and Jacques-Louis.
Chanoine Freres is also famous for being the first Champagne company to be given permission to excavate cellars in Epernay, thus creating the start of the tradition of ageing Champagne in chalk cellars in this town.
Intent on making their brand a success, the 2 brothers travelled throughout Europe, selling and developing their brand, and their travels inevitably brought them to the Tsarist court in Russia. The Imperial Court and the Russian elite, keen to follow the fashions and style of France, and western Europe, were keen Champagne drinkers; swift to realise the potential of this wealthy society, the Chanoine brothers created the Tsarine brand.
In the 19th century, Russia was the leading export market for Champagne, and the packaging and design of the Tsarine brand was unashamedly blatant in its homage to this market. The long bottle, and its swirling bring to mind Russian architecture at the time, especially Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. The colours, the emblems, the label, and the evocative name, all reflect the opulence of the Russian Imperialist court, prior to the Revolution.
Today, whilst Tsarine has maintained a similar look, it has been positioned at the mainstream end of the Champagne market, and is perceived by some to look ‘tacky’, or too showy. A brand overhaul is in progress by the owners, with a more focussed brand positioning to be developed.
What Styles of Champagne Do Tsarine Produce?
Tsarine Champagne produces a range of styles, all with the unique, immediately recognisable bottle shape; the range covers all the key Champagne styles:
Tsarine Cuvee Premium – an even blend of the 3 grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, this is elegant, fresh and fruity, with a persistent citrussy note.
Tsarine Rose – from a similar, even blend as the Cuvee Premium, this has an ethereal colour and lightness, and a delicate elegance, with its soft, raspberry fruit character and finish.
Tsarine Demi-Sec – packaged in a striking green bottle, the demi-sec is a reflection of the old styles of Champagne, but produced in a very modern way; with its off dry style, and sweet, ripe peach edge, it has a very aromatic, floral style.
Tsarine Vintage – in this vintage Champagne, Pinot Noir plays the starring role, with Chardonnay as support, and Pinot Meunier in the background; it is ripe, full and elegant, with rich, biscuit fruit and a toasted hazelnut edge. Full bodied, persistent and lingering.
Tsarine Premier Cru – from a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, this is a very fine, and well structured Champagne, with a rich toastiness offset by a delicate floral edge. Fine, persistent and complex, it has a delicate mousse, and a lingering finish.
Tsarine Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2006 – this Chardonnay only Champagne was made in the superb year of 2006, when the grapes ripened early; its vibrant, yet delicate, with intense peach and lime blossom character, creamy, and biscuity, with a soft, buttered toast and hazelnut character on the finish.
Tzarina – the prestige Cuvee of the range, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir; a luxurious, richly flavoured and textured Champagne combining rich, fleshy, biscuity character, with a soft, ripe orchard fruit character – elegant and complex. A wine, which is perfect in its youth, and will simply improve as it ages.