The best, of the best, of the best: Barons de Rothschild champagnes
Champagne Barons de Rothschild Managing Director Frédéric Mairesse says that he has an event at The Phoenicia tonight, an exclusive dinner for 30 of Malta’s most distinguished individuals. “We’re working on the visibility of the brand and Malta is a luxury tourism destination, so we love to be present in the best places in the world, the best tables, the best resorts, in Malta and the world. We’re like Krug, very exclusive, half a million bottles with the best grapes in the world. We speak about the Rothschild name, it’s Chateau Lafite, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and our champagne Barons de Rothschild, all of which are best-in-class. The best of the best.
The Rothschild family are champagne lovers. They got 40% of the shares in Ruinart after the second war, and Ruinard was making the Rothschild family champagne. Then the Ruinart House started to do business with the Moët & Chandon House and Philippe de Rothschild got close to Henriot who made the family champagne for 15 years. All this before we started to make our own champagne.
The three branches of the family got together to launch a champagne that reflects the family name and its heritage in the wine business. Drawing on their experience in the world of wine, the Barons de Rothschild have achieved excellence with some special products based on significant investments in terroir, wine-making technology, maturation and great people. From 2005 we have pursued a great champagne for Barons de Rothschild, through the three branches of the Rothschild family that have joined forces to produce an exceptional product.
We are niche. We were looking to buy either Lanson or Tattinger, however, we felt that the goodwill on the brand did not justify rebranding one of those champagne houses under the Rothschild name. Phillipe, Eric and Benjamin decided to work together and they decided to produce cuvées that were made with a lot of Chardonnay, more complicated and more expensive. When you are Rothschild, you can’t do like everyone else does. But this way you can’t produce millions of bottles. This was fine with them as they prefer producing less but with a focus on a very high quality. Chardonnay is more rare, and it ages well, especially at high concentration.
I was the facilitator on the champagne front. We can discuss everything about champagne, but we never speak about wine, except when it comes to distribution, as sometimes we use the distribution of Lafitte, sometimes of Mouton; I am secret on all the details about the wine amongst the partners. We are ageing for perfect maturity, 5 years for non-vintage and at least 10 years for vintage. We only broke-even after 15 years as a premium niche brand like Bollinger and Krug.
Baron Phillipe said that longterm, brand positioning is very important, values at the highest levels, aligned to Rothschild on perfect quality and distribution. Humble. No bling-bling. 5 years to build up inventory. The family has a 25 years plan. And continue to invest in the company, new Champagne region vineyards €10M over the next 2 years, small parcels, in the best areas; €35M on inventory; €15M on equipment; €5M for the headquarters; plus marketing our 500,000 bottles each year.
We’re in competition with the biggest names, LVMH, Bollinger, everyone wants to buy Grand Cru land. Every 1.2kg grapes is one bottle more. Sourcing grapes is key. The land parcels allow us to produce for decades. We focus on special cuvées and iconic wines. For that we need land, grapes and time. In champagne land prices are regulated to maintain succession; one hectare Grand Cru 1990 €300,000 then in 2000 €900,000 by 2006 €1.3M and in 2018 €1.8M. That’s just a small plot.
Champagne we have maximum capacity of 300 million bottles, the world is drinking sparkling. In 10 years maybe we can do 400 million bottles. We’re paying €7.30 per kilo, and we need 1.2 kilo to make a bottle. Growers make about 100% margin for grapes in very nice condition. International brands continue to grow. But the premium market is only 1%, so we operate in that tiny space.
As Rothschild we look to be the reference within the top 3 champagnes in the world. Not in volume, but in quality. We need to go for the best of the best. Rothschild means best in wine, best in champagne. The Rothschild name is such a strong name. We put quality first, then we put the signature of the three Barons. Best grapes, best ageing, best winemaker, everything the best. Then we look to explore the links between the classic wines like Lafite and Mouton Rothschild and thefamily banks. The brand emanates from that heartland.
We can achieve the best placement. We did a partnership with The Ritz in London and Paris. Then we rolled-out to the other 110 Ritz Carlton hotels worldwide. We were the exclusive premium brand that Caesar Ritz used in the early days, 1902, 1904. Our heritage, the family accepted for the first time to put The Ritz on the label next to the Rothschild name. We keep extending the contract! We’re there until at least 2024. Rothschild and their partners all have a longterm view. The Ritz is about 15% of our business.
Luxury in food and beverage is our niche. We work with Four Seasons, Mandarin, Shangri-La, Park Hyatt, InterContinental, and as a Champagne House we work really closely with about 30 or 40 top hotels in the world. We represent about a 10% bump for the top hotels when they switch to stocking the Rothschild champagne brand. We’re not just a label, just the Rothschild name, we’re also absolute value and partners with the best growers with the best plots and the best grapes, married to a flawless production and maturation process. That’s Barons de Rothschild champagnes.”