Jérôme Poussin, UK representative for SANGER, gives us the lowdown on a Champagne brand with a difference.
So what is SANGER Champagne?
Well, SANGER Champagne is actually produced by students – very talented students who will go on to be the next generation of winemakers in the region of Champagne. They are all studying at the Academy Viticampus in Avize, which is in Côtes des Blancs. So Viticampus is essentially the winemaking school of Champagne. It has been running since 1952.
How much champagne does Sanger produce and where does most of it go?
Production is around 140,000 bottles. 95% is sold in France and only 5% goes to export so there is not a huge amount in the UK. All of the profits are re-invested in the school.
What makes it special? Why should I order it over another champagne?
Champagne SANGER is not just a brand; for me it is a journey around the region of Champagne. Each of the nine cuvees produced is the essence of 42 terroirs from the four regions of Champagne, of which 70% is of Grand Cru. Each of the cuvees has its own very special identity.
How many types and what styles of champagne do you have?
There are nine SANGER cuvees and the reason for having such diversity is to teach the students the importance of each terroir and the extraordinary oenological wealth of the Champagne region. So we go from Blanc de Noirs, made with black grapes only (Générosité Noire NV), to Blanc de Blancs, made from white grapes only (Terroir Natal, Triangle Minéral 2008, Prestige Ultime 2007, Vieilles Vignes, all Grand Cru) some rosé (Tango Paradox NV), using traditional methods, a fermented oak barrel oak cuvee (Louise Eugénie) a demi-sec, adding extra sugar to be sweeter (Tendre Escapade) and of course a Brut Tarditionel (Voyage 360).
I want some! Where can I try it?
You will find SANGER in five D&D restaurants with more to follow. Launceston Place has Tango Paradox and Triangle Minéral 2008 ; Le Pont de la Tour has Tango Paradox, Triangle Minéral 2008 and Louise Eugénie; South Place Hotel has Générosité Noire, Tango Paradox, Terroir Natal, Triangle Mineral, Prestige Ultime & Louise Eugénie, through the S.P.I.E.S Club; Plateau has Générosité Noire, Terroir Natal, Triangle Minéral 2008 while Orrery has Générosité Noire.
What is your role?
The idea is to promote SANGER internationally to give the students recognition for their work and be able to use their awards for their future within the wine industry. Either they become winemakers or will work in a related part of the industry.
And how has it been going? What has been the reaction of UK sommeliers?
We have been getting really good reviews and received some great accolades from the press, for quality – for example a fabulous endorsement from Stephen Spurrier in the most recent edition of Decanter. The story behind Sanger makes it different to other champagne houses. The educational aspect has really appealed to people.
Are there many wine schools like this in France and what kinds of things do the students learn?
There are around 20 wine schools in France across our 13 wine regions. As much as students learn about winemaking and a life in the wine industry, they also study general subjects, such as French, maths, geography, history, English etc.
What will the students go on to do in the future?
80% of the current wine makers in Champagne, including some really high profile names, are former students of Viticampus. So you can expect to see those making the current vintage of SANGER go on to do big things in the future and be producing the well known Champagnes that you usually enjoy.