A visit to Champagne de Venoge

11th July 2017

Champagne de Venoge House CEO

I’m not going to declare how many countless times I have walked up and down the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, but what I do not mind sharing is that for me it is one of the most wonderful streets in the world with amazing property and holding a wealth of history. I hold dreams of living with an address of Avenue de Champagne one day and I most certainly have my one or two favourite houses on the avenue and one of them, which I had walked past many times and had never the occasion to enter, suddenly was checked off my list thanks to a welcoming and enlightening invitation by Champagne de Venoge CEO Gilles de la Bassetiere.

The photo above does really do it justice I say, it is a proud standing luxurious looking chateau in my view that is immaculately well kept externally and extremely inviting. As you walk through the iron gates you have the small hotel building to your left and on your right there are tables and chairs outside another converted small building which holds its bar serving Champagne and accompanying foods. When you catch a warm sunny blue day in Epernay then for me it is hard to beat sitting in the front courtyard sipping Champagne and watching the world go by.

Just to give you a little bit on the history of Champagne de Venoge: It was founded back in 1837 by Henri-Marc de Venoge who come from Switzerland to Champagne and launched the de Venoge & Cie brand. Today the house produces approximately 1,700,000 bottles annually and offers three stylish ranges which are ‘Cordon Blue‘, ‘Princes‘ and ‘Louis XV‘. In 2015 they moved into 33 Avenue de Champagne and now offer deluxe suite accommodation along with a bar and wine shop with outside drinking terrace.

I was lucky that for this editorial piece I had the morning to spend with Gilles de la Bassetiere, the current CEO of de Venoge, who was able to take me on a tour of 33 Avenue de Champagne and then on to the Michelin Star restaurant of Epernay, Hostellerie La Briqueteries that is part of the Relais & Chateaux group, to enjoy a de Venoge tasting. With my appointment card in my hand I walked in through the inviting double doors to an interior of original features (the de Venoge Mansion was completed in 1900) and a welcoming smile and handshake from Gilles.

We toured the property from top to bottom from grandeur rooms full of rich and majestic features with period furniture (including a stunning Pleyel grand piano built in 1882 ) and artwork piano. The basement was next which the house has kept with its original servant quarters with large stoves for cooking, boiler room for heating and stone washing place. Cellars hold a small fragment of the wine of de Venoge and mostly are present for show yet many fine vintages can be found beneath 33 Avenue de Champagne! Full restoration works are being carried out on upper floors which are currently mostly of 1980’s style decor. The last part of the tour was a walk, safely I might add, on to the roof of the building that offered a great birds eye style 360 view of Epernay.

Now their wines. This of course is a subject that would take a whole write up as it is, but let me quickly run through their main selection of which I tasted with Gilles on the day and what made the most impression on me is that they are very well selected so that each leads you on to the other as you scale up on quality and tasting experiences offered.

The Cordon Bleu range offers Champagne lovers a light and refreshing range with Brut, Brut Rosé and Extra Brut. Each of these wines contains a strong Pinot Noir percentage of grape and aged a minimum of 36 months. The Brut gives a fresh apple and citrus taste, the rose offers a persistent red berry fruit palate and the Extra Brut is full bodied yet light, citrus and white fruit attack.

Their ‘Princes of Wines’ range is a scale up both in packaging and wine with Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Extra Brut and Rosé offered. Each of these wines make fine gastronomic solutions to pair with a range of food, each wine packed with fruit flavours, rich and fresh in tasting experience and each is aged 48 months.

Lastly, and the best is usually saved for the last, the Louis XV range with the Brut and Rosé vintages (currently 2006). These wines are made from only grand crus and the very best vintages only chosen. The Louis XV Brut Vintage 1996 got 5 stars from me on Vivino as it was just outstanding, a Champagne lovers dream of rich yellow stone fruits, creamy, brioche and vanilla taste with great length and a deep golden colour in the glass with expressive aromas.

It was a great pleasure to discover in full Champagne de Venoge, but I must add that this introduction to this great house would not have been the same without the passion and commitment to brand de Venoge that Gilles has. From my questions for this editorial I can see that from his 20 years service to Champagne de Venoge he has advanced its global brand recognition and its desirable wines to be clearly an up and coming label steeped in history with a wonderful luxury presence in the heart of Epernay and Avenue de Champagne and an opportunity to expand further successfully. I feel that part of de Venoge is Gilles de la Bassetiere and a part of Gilles is de Venoge – Match made in heaven. Thank you Gilles and I still have the taste memory of the vintage Louis XV 1996 we shared at Hostellerie La Briqueteries embedded in my Champagne tasting memory bank.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.