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Delhi Wine Club
Sebastien Papin of Billecart- Salmon Champagne

Posted: Wednesday, 24 August 2011 11:45

Sebastien Papin of Billecart- Salmon Champagne

August 24: Sebastien Papin, the Singapore-based Brand Ambassador for Asia/Pacific for the medium sized family owned Champagne Billecart- Salmon was in Delhi last week with Vishal Kadakia of The Wine Park , Mumbai to meet potential customers when Subhash Arora had a brief chat with him at Hotel Shangri-la and tasted two of their three Champagnes available in India.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Sebastien who has been with the medium sized 200 year old champagne house, producing about 2 million bottles annually, for a couple of years feels that the Champagne market is picking up and India would be a bigger consumer of this elegant bubbly in the next few years.  He was not overly concerned that Moet et Chandon sold more than all the other houses put together. Priced about 10-20% higher than the popular label, he said that they did not compete with each other directly but had their own independent following throughout the world.

A good example of the loyal following was in France, where the company has 45% of the market share and is popular amongst sommeliers and wine industry, the rest being exported to markets like the US, UK, Japan etc. ‘We do not formulate an extensive marketing strategy to increase our market share. With an experience of running by the descendent of the same family, we are consistent in maintaining the excellent quality and our clients respect that,’ adding that ‘the family controls the entire vinification process, taking charge from the growing of grapes till the bottling of wine, as well as maintaining their independence without compromising the quality at any stage.’

The name of the company may sound fishy but it has nothing to do with salmon. It was founded in 1818 by Nicolas François Billecart and his wife Elisabeth Salmon in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ- and hence the name. It’s being run by the seventh generation today, he explains.

Papin also took pains to explain that many people drank their champagnes too cold which masks the  rich flavours of ours and in fact any good quality wines. He recommended that they be chilled to about 8˚ C. In a country like India where Champagne is the drink of celebration or warm weather drink, this would mean the temperature rising to 10˚ C, making it a perfect drinking temperature.

‘Champagne Billecart- Salmon was earlier  marketed by Dhall Foods –perhaps  4-5 years ago, before my time,’ says Papin who has been with the company for a couple of years. But they did not sell much and for about 10 months nothing was happening. We met Vishal in Vinexpo and  felt that we had a lot in common since Vishal also works with quality wines and a niche market and not volumes. We hope to work with him on a long term basis and I am sure we have a long ride ahead of us together in the Indian market’, he says.

In a hurry to catch a flight to Zurich that night and sandwiched between the heavy  traffic  jams due to Anna Hazare’s movement I had a quick taste of two of their key wines, Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve and Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé- both well recognized internationally. The two were full-bodied with rich flavour and creamy texture and a zingy character, good balance and elegance. I was particularly impressed with the Rose because of its body, texture, fruity flavours and an enticing nose of red fruits. I could have had a lot more of it but for the lack of time and the limitation of the availability.

With the price that is expected to be higher than Moet, one can hope that it will soon join the ranks of the endless Champagne Sunday brunches at some 5-star hotel when the time comes to a momentary stop and one can enjoy a gastronomical experience in slow motion.

Subhash Arora



Tarsillo Says:

in France where the company sells 45% of its total production.

Posted @ August 25, 2011 12:40


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