Whose Wine is it Anyway?

Coming from a long line of wine growers, Céline Champalou joined her parents full time back in 2006 to help with the family production. Didier and Catherine started out their wine making journey in 1983 and have since acquired over 20 hectares of Chenin. The Champalou family is registered with the Terra Vitis programme, a charter that promotes sustainable farming and respect for the environment by maintaining a good balance in the soil, the terroir and the plants and limiting chemical applications.

We asked Céline what it is to be a winemaker and who she admires in the world of wine.

What made you want to be a winemaker?

I realised I wanted to become a wine producer while working at Gastro Restaurant in Clapham. Drinking wine, talking about it with people and seeing their eyes light up. Thank you again to Eric and Philippe for the opportunity…

How many years have you been making wine?

[Myself] Well really since 2003.

Have you worked for any other producers previously?

Before returning to Vouvray in 2006, I travelled across a number of different countries and wine regions including New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Languedoc Roussillon and Corsica where I worked for big as well as small vineyards as a “compagnon”.

Which other producers do you admire and why?

I admire my partner Kevin Fontaine, a wine producer in Chinon, because he is not from our world and he works very hard and he is a good winemaker and a passionate producer. Of course, I also admire my father, not only because of who he is to me, but also because he is an incredible vigneron and he has weathered the storm of the past few years. There are other producers that I like, James Millton in New Zealand for example, also a Chenin lover.  As for the others, the list would be too long!

If you hadn’t become a winemaker, what would be your dream job?

A helicopter pilot.

You can lose everything and more in five minutes or less (2013 - hail), so enjoy it when it is good and don’t anticipate the bad.

What do you like best about your job?

To start with nothing in the winter, watching the buds comes to life in the spring, the fruits growing in the summer and finishing every year with a new wine to help guide you through life…

What is your favourite type of wine to drink?

Except Chenin, dry Riesling.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

To always adapt without any idea of what the future will be.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

When people finish a bottle rapidly?! No, in all seriousness, when we meet our customers and they appreciate our work, our wines and they come back!

What is your winemaking philosophy/approach to making wine?

As you asked for wine only: to guide the wine in expressing the beauty of each vintage, but our work starts first and foremost in the vineyards, where we listen to our plants and helps them grow good healthy fruit.

Is there one person who has influenced your style of winemaking more than anyone else?

No, I don’t think so. I know what I like and what I don’t like.

What do you do in your free time?

I have two young children...for the moment, I sleep!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your winemaking career?

You can lose everything and more in five minutes or less (2013 - hail), so enjoy it when it is good and don’t anticipate the bad.

Other than wine, what’s your favourite drink (alcoholic or otherwise)?

I just came back from a hen-party weekend, so…tequila!

If you were a grape variety what would you be and why?

Chenin of course: sweet, fresh and elegant (and aging gracefully).

If you were stranded on a desert island what three wines would you choose to be stranded with?

Champalou Brut (Yes, I said it, ask Nini [my sister] if she chooses another bottle! Sancerre from the Bourgeois Family (my first working experience as a trainee in 2000), and a Cidre de Glace from Quebec: La Façe Cachée de la Pomme (one of my fondest memories with a bottle).

If you had to choose your last meal what would it be?

Only one!?

If you could have a dinner party with any four people (dead or alive) who would you pick and why?

Claude Francois, (for the songs – I like a good party, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Willis (if something were to happen, he would save us,  and my sister of course.

Favourite place ever visited?

Oh so difficult…and too many still on my list! I will choose one moment though, which has reference to a previous question. It involved a very long night with some friends and Kevin with a bottle of La Façe Cachée de la Pomme in a Jacuzzi facing the St Laurent in Quebec!

Images courtesy of Domaine Champalou.

Interested in finding out more about any of wines made by Céline? Buy online here or contact us directly…

Retail: [email protected] / 01483 554750