About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

I would like to take this opportunity to again congratulate - Régis Camus, the director of winemaking at Piper and Charles Heidsieck, who was named ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ in 2012 - for the seventh time, by the International Wine Challenge. This rounded off an award-winning year for Charles Heidsieck, in which their Champagnes won two Trophies and four Gold medals at the IWC, as well as two Trophies and three Gold medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

It must be remembered that Régis Camus stepped into some very big shoes when he took over as ‘Chef de Caves’ at Charles Heidsieck back in 2002, following the untimely death of Daniel Thibault, who had revitalised Charles Heidsieck, turning the Champagne House into one of the world’s leading names. Though it did seem however that Régis had the necessary understanding and talent - after studying oenology in Reims, he then joined Piper and Charles Heidsieck to work with Daniel Thibault in 1994. The two formed a remarkable partnership, so it could be said that Régis has in fact already played his part in the development, and it was perhaps only right that he should make his own name as he put his hand on the tiller and decided on the best direction to head.
When a great winemaker is trained by another great winemaker, when their understanding runs so deep that the absence of one fails to weaken the other, when this constancy finds resonance in the wine, year after year, something very special happens - something that our restless, fickle times forget to value, but something that is essential for a great champagne house and a great champagne - is continuity.
I have had the unique honour and pleasure of being guided through an extensive tasting of the components that make up these two great Champagne houses with Régis himself back in 2009. An experience that made my years of wine study finally make sense - and has given me a confidence and clarity that has assisted me since when leaning and tasting new wines from across the globe.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I first studied food sciences in Reims and it was here that I met some very interesting people from the Wine Industry.
I then decided to move onto ‘Oenological’ studies. Since 1979 I have been working as part of a winemaking team, and I became the Winemaker - ‘Chef de Caves’ of Piper-Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck in 2002.


Where and when did you study winemaking?
I studied in 1974 and 1975 at the Faculté d’Oenologie in Reims, France. After obtaining my Oenological Diploma - my first winemaking experience was in 1976.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
There have been 2 key influences: Jacques Peters, who was my tutor during my internship in 1976. He also helped me find my first job in Champagne.
Daniel Thibault who trusted me - chose me and allowed me to reach the position of ‘Chef de Caves’ of Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Chardonnay is my favourite for the complexity in the ageing and Pinot Noir which is the predominant grape variety in the Piper-Heidsieck range.

Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
In Champagne we are very lucky to have 3 grapes varieties acclimatised to our unique temperatures.
Example: in 1985 we experienced -35°C in winter & then in 2003 we had +45°C in the summer.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
Every vintage has its own characteristics. I look out for its personality, what makes it specific so as to see if it bears the style that I look for in Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
The challenge is not really on vintage making, but on NV making. We have to make the Brut Cuvée every year and we have to create a constant wine of quality and style. The first years of the 2000’s were quite demanding - with 2001 and so much rain - and then 2003 with so much sun - and in the middle of the excellent 2002 season.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Life is a long journey and obviously you meet a lot of different people. They share their know-how, their knowledge. I have met ‘anciens’ (old) ‘Chefs de Caves’ and Grandes Maisons Head Managers, all very famous and knowledgeable in Champagne.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
I am afraid it would not be a bottle, but a Magnum (he states with a smile). As of today, it will be a Magnum of Piper-Heidsieck Rare 1998.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
The place wouldn’t be what matters! But it would be somewhere without the daily struggles of the world these days. If possible a place with lots of light. ‘Luminous’

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
To be curious, passionate and to persevere.

When you are ‘not’ making wine - what is one of your favourite things to do to relax?
Working in the garden, DIY, cinema - and looking after my grand-children.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
We have to be the guardians of the Piper-Heidsieck style and I have to listen, to look at what is happening around me - and in the world - to work on the evolution of the Cuvees for the pleasure of our consumers and Champagne Lovers.

Piper Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck Champagne are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants.
Or visit their websites: Piper Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck.

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