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.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Piper & Charles Heidsieck - "building on success"

Since my first visit to France back in 1990 - I have had a special connection with all things French. I still remember like it was yesterday driving into Champagne and seeing all those gentle slopes covered with closely planted, low vines as far as you could see.  Even though it was not my first time in Reims or at Piper & Charles Heidsieck - this didn’t reduce my anticipation and excitement as I drove from Provins (a small medieval town) located a short distance to the south of Champagne.
It doesn’t matter from which direction you arrive at Piper & Charles Heidsieck - as soon as you see that iconic architectural structure designed by Jacques Ferrier in 2008, it sets the scene for something special.
It was a pleasure to be greeted by a familiar face and an old friend Catherine Curie (the international brand ambassador for both Champagne houses) on my arrival. As we commented - it seemed like such a short time since we had enjoyed a glass of Champagne in New Zealand just the year before, plus both Catherine and I had been part of a most memorial ‘vin-clair’ tasting with Regis Camus back in 2009 - where has the time gone.
As a new and young generation now enjoy Piper Heidsieck around the world and they relate to the haut-couture design and the promotional activity in magazine, cinemas, TV and gift packaging - and even more importantly enjoying the most exciting styles of Champagne on the market crafted by - arguably the most awarded and talented Champagne maker in the world Regis Camus - who has just received the ‘Winemaker of the year’ trophy at the International Wine Challenge in the UK for the 8th time.
Though it must be remembered that Piper-Heidsieck was founded by Florens-Louis Heidsieck back in 1785 in Reims, and is one the oldest Champagne houses. The Heidsieck name was combined with the Piper name back in 1838. In 1985, Piper-Heidsieck became part of the Rémy Cointreau wine and spirits group, and more recently in 2011 it was bought by the EPI (Européenne de Participation Industrielle), a privately owned company of French luxury brands, headed by Christopher Descours.

The first part of the day I spent with Thibaut Chaillon - the 'Chef de Marque' for Piper Heidsieck. We caught up with the new brand activities for both the trade and the general public around the world. Then it wouldn’t be a visit to Piper and Charles Heidsieck - without tasting the latest blends from Thierry and Regis. After a stimulating Champagne tasting that engaged the taste buds and stimulated the stomach juices it was time to enjoy a spot of lunch at the latest Champagne Bar / Restaurant to open in Reims - ‘Le Bouillon Des Halles’. On such a stunning, hot and sunny day - it was inevitable that we share a bottle of Piper Rosé Sauvage NV, plus a few other local wines to match the courses.
After a outstanding experience and some of the best table service I have enjoyed in any town or country - it was time to make our way back to the office to sit down with Stephen Leroux, (the new Director of Champagne at Charles Heidsieck). Stephen was the marketing director at Bollinger from 2007 to 2011, and has just recently joined as the director of Charles Heidsieck.

Charles Heidsieck Champagne founded in 1851 by Charles Camille Heidsieck - (who lived from 1820-1871) was a 19th-century French Champagne merchant. Charles is credited with popularizing Champagne in the United States and was known as "Champagne Charlie". One of the most dramatic of events that Charles was a part of during his short but dynamic life – was that during the American Civil War - Heidsieck was imprisoned under suspicion of being a spy for the French government and the Confederacy. His imprisonment sparked an international incident between France and US over what became known as ‘The Heidsieck Incident’.
It was a wonderful and insightful meeting with Stephen - as he unraveled and revealed the immense amount of work and creative genius of one of the most successful market re-branding of Charles Heidsieck. The re-branding and re-focused positioning has been rolled out in half a dozen countries so far around the world - with New Zealand being one of the more recent launches - and the market has been waiting with anticipation for the new packaging and the ‘new’ Brut NV blend to arrive.

With reluctance I had to leave and make my way back to Provins - but as I had done on several occasions on this years wine tour - I made another promise to myself to return as soon as possible.

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