Interview with Antoine Roland-Billecart of Champagne Billecart-Salmon
9th February 2017
“We are different, we have over ten cuvées, most of the competition will only ever have five or six.” Antoine Roland-Billecart
On a fresh winter afternoon, we took up the invitation from Champagne Billecart-Salmon to attend a fine lunch and master at The River Cafe by The Thames, London. A perfect menu, an impressive guest list of industry experts and top Champagne media outlets enjoyed a selection of fine wines including NV Brut sous Bois, 1999 Cuvée and the 2006 cuvée Elisabeth Salmon rosé.
Antoine Billecart-Salmon hosted the event and delivered some very informative words including their vision to acquire more hectares in the next ten years to take them from 14 hectares currently to 50. I asked how they were to achieve this and Antoine stated that currently, money is cheap (ie borrowing) and that you can achieve new purchases of the highly demanded Champagne vineyards by competing by increasing your prices and that offering 10 cents per kilo extra will be the only way to capture more volume.
“Our luxury is to afford the time to produce fine Champagne. The key in Champagne is to ensure the raw material which is the grape and it is not always easy to find fine grapes in Champagne!” Antoine.
I also managed to sit down with Antoine just before the lunch and ask him a couple of questions:
How important is it for a Champagne brand like Billecart-Salmon to be present on Social Media?
Oh wow! What a question. (laughs)
Social media, it is evolution. Yes, I believe it is very important and everyone today seems to be connected to it. It is not a problem, social media puts us at an advantage, but you can not control it and I feel you either go with it or you do not. If you are a brand that does not go with social media then you are out.
As Billecart-Salmon is very much in control of the news we share via our family system and that we are a small company, we are not yet very much in tune with this new way of communicating with social media yet.
Though you are aware of it and it’s importance?
Yes, absolutely, but the thing is that most people are coming to you with social media, such as when a person opens a vintage bottle of our wine and they share it. This is what you can not plan, it just happens or it doesn’t if you are not present on social media to see it and react to it.
Most memorable place you have enjoyed a glass of bubbly?
We have a place in Mareuil-sur-Ay where there are some wonderful views over a wide area of the Champagne region and this is an amazing place to enjoy a glass of Billecart-Salmon.
Interview by Christopher Walkey.
Thank you to Helen Nicklin AKA TheWineBird for help with the interview filming – Main photo credit is Helen Nicklin.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.