Champagne was never going to go away, was it? COVID-19 can turn our lives upside down, but we still want our French fizz! Both on-trade and off-trade sales of Champagne have now recovered strongly, following an initial dip during lockdown. Travel restrictions with enforced stay-at-home policies have resulted in more people drinking at home, whether beer, wine, spirits or anything else.
Welcome Say It With Champers, a personalised Champagne company based in Bury St Edmunds and the only one to provide a family-produced Champagne.
"I kept putting it off until I finally took the plunge ten years later. Better late than never, I guess!"
Say It With Champers was founded by Didier Penine in February 2019. The company sells bottles with bespoke labels for corporate gifts or you can choose from a range of themed labels covering all the popular greeting card occasions. They can deliver nationwide and their largest customer takes 30 bottles every month for their lucky clients!
Although the company is very young, the initial idea for the business took root many years ago. Didier explains further: "Since leaving university, I followed the corporate path and ended up working in various head office roles at a national wholesaler. The job was fine, but inside there was always a feeling I wanted to do my own thing. The idea for this business actually first came about at my own wedding back in 2008. My father brought over about thirty bottles of Champagne personalised for the wedding and I was instantly taken by it. At the time, I was desperate to start my own business and this seemed the obvious choice. I'm glad I did and feel much better for it!"
The company stocks three types of Champagne - a Classic Brut, a Rosé and a Premium bubbly. They can all be personalised in exactly the same way. When selecting a personalised design, you can choose text for the collar label and also for the body label. However, with the premium Champagne, Didier recommends only the body label, "as there is a very distinctive gold foil around the neck which adds the premium feel."
The Classic Brut and Rosé are from Philizot & Fils. Created in 2002, this Champagne House is run by husband and wife, Stéphane and Virginie Philizot. Stéphane is the fourth generation of a family of wine producers. The company has won many prestigious awards over the years, including several IWC and IWSC Silvers.
The Premium Champagne comes from Champagne House Neveux-Rousseau, located in Jonquery in the heart of the Vallée de la Marne. The area is recognized for the quality of its Pinot Meunier, the 'third grape' of Champagne. Previously dubbed a 'Cinderella grape', it's increasingly being recognised for its fresh, fruity and aromatic qualities.
Neveux-Rousseau is a seventh generation grower/producer with an annual yield of about 35,000 bottles. According to Didier, they follow the same traditions that have been passed down through each generation, using no animal derivatives during production. Therefore, their Champagnes are all vegan-friendly.
This wine contains 35% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir.
Appearance: pale gold in colour; vigorous mousse with fine bubbles.
Nose: biscuity, bready and fruity with hints of apple, pineapple and lemon curd.
Palate: citrus fresh with a core of ripe, crunchy red apple and a touch of pineapple, softened by a creamy mouthfeel of custard cream biscuit and buttered toast. Round with good acidity and a long finish. Dosage level is 12g/L, but this is changing to 10-11g/L next year.
Didier is not one for standing still and has been looking to potentially expand his business. "I already stock mini Prosecco which is great for wedding favours, hen parties, baby showers and so on. I also sell a lot of Prosecco to businesses with their own branding on. It is quite possible I will branch out into red and white wine too. I do get asked for personalised wines of this sort, so it makes sense to have some kind of product available for those that want it."
Didier believes that other sparkling wines with lower price points are likely to gain market share of the increasingly competitive bubbly market. However, while this may affect lower priced Champagnes, he sees less of a problem at the more premium end. "The higher priced, more notable Champagne sales are continuing to grow, as people want a known brand to go with their celebrations. I can see this trend continuing, particularly with the emergence of English sparkling wine which is growing at an incredible rate year-on-year."
Despite all the competing fizz styles, we Brits continue to love our Champagne moments! So, if you want to 'say it in style' with a bottle of good quality fizz, then check out Say It With Champers and enjoy some great Champagne with your friends and colleagues!