Drink champagne every day and call it work? We want Isabelle Tellier’s job! For almost 20 years, Isabelle has been the winemaker at the world’s second-oldest Champagne house, Chanoine Frères. At the helm of Tsarine Cellars, Isabelle’s wines have received over 70 awards in recognition of her development of fruity, balanced and harmonious blends. We sat down over a glass of Tsarine Champagne Cuvée Premium Brut, of course, to chat about her work.
How did you become one of the first, and few, female winemakers in Champagne?
Well, I was destined to study agronomy, but a meeting with a winemaker, during a summer internship in Reims, confirmed my desire to become a winemaker myself. I like good things, good meals accompanied by good wines, it was an obvious choice for the epicurean that I am.
Given women make up the majority of champagne drinkers, why are there so few female winemakers?
The world of wine may seem very masculine at first glance, however, women have always played an important role in the world of Champagne wines, even if it was not noticeable for more than three centuries. When I first started my career 20 years ago, I was one of the very few female winemakers. Today there are a few more of us because we bring a more delicate and elegant touch to the wine during its production.
Chanoine Frères is the world’s second oldest Champagne house – tell us why it’s so special …
The Chanoine Frères house has, for almost three centuries, been made up of exceptional men and women who have always had a passion for the land, for innovation and audacity. Wine is a product of culture and tradition, but you also have to know how to evolve, and this is what we do every day at Chanoine Freres so that our champagne stands the test of time and remains a symbol of pleasure and sharing.
What has kept you at Tsarine for nearly 20 years?
In all honesty, I have not seen the time pass, probably because I see the profession of the winemaker as a work of creation and freedom which I enjoy every day for Tsarine Champagne.
What’s your favourite stage of the making process?
I really love grape harvests because there is a form of excitement in discovering what nature has to offer. I also particularly like the tasting of still wines when you taste the wines from the last harvest, grape variety by grape variety, ‘crus’, ‘grands crus’, all separately. I taste hundreds of wines, wines of the year and reserve wines, it is from there that I develop my blends and maintain the style of Tsarine champagne.
Do you drink champagne every day?
Yes of course! I taste our wines on a daily basis because I have to monitor their development. I accompany them in their maturation.
What’s your favourite way to drink champagne?
Champagne is a convivial wine that I like to share with the people I appreciate over a good lunch or dinner. I like to play with food and champagne pairings, and I never tire of testing new pairings.
What’s a winemaker’s secret we might not know about drinking champagne?
I don’t think there’s a secret to drinking champagne that hasn’t been revealed yet. On the other hand, I would say that we are all driven by a common desire to make champagne tasting an exceptional moment. Champagne is an inimitable, festive, joyful and light wine that can be shared all over the planet and is timeless.
Cheers to all the Business Chicks out there!