“It’s time for the wine trade to speed up its sustainability efforts,” says historic Champagne home president

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After spending almost 20 years in luxury wines and spirits, including stints at Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon and Louis XIII cognac, Ludovic du Plessis is dedicated towards making sure the industry will last for many more decades to come. The president of the historic Champagne Telmont is making this world-famous wine region a leader in sustainability. He’s put his money where his mouth is, acquiring a share in the 111-year-old winemaker along with actor and environmental campaigner Leonardo di Caprio. Here he shares his ideas for how the drinks industry can meet and overcome the biggest climate-change challenges.

“A journalist said that we’re the ‘troublemakers of Champagne’, but she was saying it in a positive way. We act like a true leader. You have to set the trend. We’ve stopped using gift boxes, we’ve reduced the weight of our bottles – we don’t use transparent bottles, bottles without recycled glass or heavy bespoke bottles – and we’ve moved to organic agriculture. 

A new generation is expecting us to make bold decisions. They understand our project In The Name of Mother Nature – they understand that our bold commitment to reducing our carbon footprint is a no-brainer. It’s what we need to do. If you are a real leader in your market, if you’re in luxury, you are the one who needs to make that statement now.

Sustainability efforts are key if the champagne industry is to continue. Photo: Champagne Telmont

The new generation, worldwide, understands that. It’s true in Singapore, it’s true in Japan, it’s true in the US, in the UK, in France… it’s a global mindset. Customers have been super supportive so far. Journalists said we would lose sales. Well, we made the decision to lose our gift boxes two years ago and our sales speak for themselves. 

There’s been a big change in the Champagne industry generally regarding biodiversity. All the Champagne houses, and the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne should be applauded. It’s great to see that. At Telmont, we are working hard on biodiversity but also believe that we should go further – aiming at 100% organic agriculture. It’s so important. I think the Champagne region is late in terms of organic agriculture – we should be stopping the use of all herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilisers and fungicides.

I love Champagne. I love the taste, the complexity – it’s about celebration. When you open a bottle of Champagne, you know that something is going to happen.

To help fight climate change, Champagne recently rewrote the long-standing rule governing vineyard density, allowing greater space between vines for easier maintenance and potentially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For wine production in general, the next chapter to focus on is water, or rather the lack of it. Champagne prohibits watering but in other regions you can water the vineyards. It’s a very sensitive topic, but it’s only going to be more important in the next two or three years. Technology has a big role to play: helping to understand the weather, how to measure rainfall et cetera. The use of technology such as drones, in particular, will really make a difference in terms of sustainability and efficiency – meaning we no longer have to use trucks and heavy machinery in the vineyards.

I love Champagne. I love the taste, the complexity – it’s about celebration. When you open a bottle of Champagne, you know that something is going to happen. I like that Champagne is always about sharing. There is so much history behind all the Champagne houses – it reminds us that we are here just for a moment, then we pass it all on to the next generation.



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