The Chief Winemaker
Guillaume Roffiaen seems to be a man forever on the move, tasting glass in hand, in constant reflection. And it would be true to say that his two main motivators – the continued quest for excellence and a thirst for discovery – leave him little respite.
Together with his highly-attuned senses, Guillaume is a true visionary. He has an in-built global culinary culture that he compares to an endless seam of gold; an infinite source of inspiration. For this talented intuitive, an open-mind is priceless, and the Champagne vineyard is a rich playground for human invention. Once again emphasising that Champagne is an opportunity for its makers to allow the splendour of this unique region to truly shine.
In his view, the greatest successes are founded on human relationships. Beyond its cultural significance, Champagne symbolises celebration and conviviality.
“Champagne is an important part of all our lives. It is shared and appreciated. It is the greatest evocation of life and exchange. Beyond any social conventions, it symbolises freedom, one bubble at a time.”
Guillaume Roffiaen’s passion for wine began at an early age. Having studied agricultural engineering and agribusiness, his passion led him to Reims, where he qualified with a National Diploma in Agriculture (DNO) in 2002. Champagne became his inspiration and work experience at the Centre Vinicole alongside Jean-Pierre Vincent, the Chief Winemaker at the time, would be a turning point in his exceptional career. In March 2014, he returned to Nicolas Feuillatte as Director of Winemaking and Quality. Through his unstinting, meticulous approach, he was appointed Chief Winemaker in 2017.
Nicolas Feuillatte is a unique model in Champagne, which draws its strength from the collective commitment and solidarity of 4,500 growers located across the entire Champagne region.
Drawing their energy and distinctive flavours from a remarkable array of crus, together with the three main grape varietals – chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier – and allowed to truly shine as a result of the subtle art of blending (assemblage), Nicolas Feuillatte Champagnes reflect the balance, finesse and freshness of this unique land.
This magical journey is only made possible through an extensive supply of grapes sourced from across the entire Champagne region, together with a carefully honed selection of Premiers and Grands Crus villages. Chardonnay imparts lightness and floral, fruity aromas where white fruit notes shine, together with a distinctly feminine character, while pinot noir brings structure and notes of red and white fruits, with a more masculine edge. Finally, meunier develops delicious fruity notes, on a spectrum of yellow and citrus fruits. It is supple and rich, subtly binding the different elements together.
Since grapes are supplied by more than 4,500 growers across the entire Champagne region, Nicolas Feuillatte has access to a creative palette of exceptional quality. To assemble the blends, a judicious selection of crus is made from 11 of the 17 Grands Crus, 26 of the 42 Premiers Crus and 145 of the 260 remaining Champagne Crus.
In addition, a mosaic of soils creates wonderfully nuanced Champagnes. Sandy subsoils create supple, light and fruity wines, while soils on marl and limestone clay deliver wines allying structure with fruit intensity. Chalk soils bring minerality and freshness, from which aromatic complexity develops over time.
There is a strong relationship between the Centre Vinicole and the growers. Sustainable viticulture, mechanisation in the vineyards, managing crushing, soil analysis, weekly technical updates are just some of the technical training and support regularly implemented in order to improve viticultural practices.
The annual “Vignoble and Qualité” day is a key highlight focusing on quality in the vineyards. Every year, it convenes more than 400 growers to reflect on major issues relating to the Champagne vineyard including the impact of global warming, the environment and wine tourism.