The Stratospheric Rise of Champagne Barons de Rothschild
The Rothschild families behind three illustrious Bordeaux estates—Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Clarke—joined forces in 2005 to establish a new champagne house, Champagne Barons de Rothschild. In just over a decade, their brainchild, which is chaired by Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, has become a revered name in sparkling French wine—no mean feat considering it now competes against storied brands such as Krug and Ruinart. The first edition of its vintage champagne, the 2006 Blanc de Blancs, was released in early 2015, and this year the brand will release its 2008 Blanc de Blancs vintage cuvée. The 2008 has been on lees for seven years and will have aged for more than 12 months after disgorgement by the time it hits the market in the middle of the year.
This champagne brought together three branches of the Rothschild family who have essentially been competitors. Was this challenging?
It was a miracle, not because we are competitive but because we’re just so busy with our own businesses. Family issues are always complex, whether you’re in banking or wine. We decided from the beginning that every decision relating to the champagne had to be made unanimously. There’s no two against one or one against two—all three make the decision or we don’t do it.
Did your background and reputation make launching a champagne easy?
We knew that champagne was something we wanted to do, but at the same time champagne is very different from wine. We knew that we couldn’t take the recipes of success from wine and just put them into champagne and say, ‘That’s going to work out.’ The blending is very different. The brand building is different. There was one thing we knew: we wanted to have a very good quality product because otherwise there was no point in doing anything.
Do you use champagne flutes?
No, I only like wine glasses. You can taste the champagne better in a wine glass. You can put more in the glass, too; that is very important. You consume much more.
What foods do you like to pair with your champagne?
Everything. It’s tricky, though—you have to have very good champagne. You need a very fresh champagne because if you have a champagne that’s too heavy, it’s complicated to pair with the food. With our champagne, we’ve found this balance where it’s fresh but at the same time structured. Our winemaker is very good at finding a balance between freshness, elegance and structured complexity. That’s why we can enjoy drinking it at every meal.
What do you think is the best champagne bar in the world?
The Ritz Bar in Paris.