The story behind Nicolas Feuillatte's Champagne carried by sail

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It has been more than two weeks since the schooner set sail going south and following the trade winds and heading for the shores of Quebec. After 15 days at sea, the Avontuur reached the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands for a quick stop before the great Atlantic crossing towards the North American coasts. During this stopover, discover why our sail boat carries Nicolas Feuillatte champagne.

On board the 44-meter German sailboat, the spirit feels good, even if, in Captain Michael Vogelsgesang's opinion, as the Avontuur was getting closer to the Canary Islands, "the more it was getting tricky from minute to minute" with waves of five to six meters digging the ocean  during this hurricane-friendly season.

Loaded with its cargo of champagne, cloth, charentaises, jeans, potterie and raincoats, the schooner has spun out smoothly, all sails out, it advances to 10 knots, a speed equivalent to 18,5 km / h. The sailboat had left the Old Port of La Rochelle in the light of the dawn on August 7 and the crew had hoisted the mainsail in the early hours of the morning off the “Ile de Ré”. The German commercial yacht had then left the Pertuis of Antioch, this small sea formed by the Charentais archipelago, to begin the crossing of the Bay of Biscay. The favorable winds allowed him to quickly reach the Iberian coastline and then to sail to Morocco with far off, in the offing of Sahara, the Canary Islands.

It is from this volcanic archipelago that since Christophe Colomb, the sailors of our planet come to seek the famous trade winds which make it possible and easier to cross the Atlantic Ocean from East to West. It will then suffice that the Avontuur to go up the American coasts to join the gulf of Saint-Laurent and reach Montreal at the end of September.


But before hitting the transatlantic, the Avontuur crew had to make a brief stop in La Palma to carry out an express supply, replace some crew and prepare the ship to face the big ocean.

 

While the sailors are breathing a bit, we want to go back on the crazy path that led us to load more than twelve tons of French luxury goods in record time. And in particular, 13 pallets of champagne Nicolas Feuillatte for the SAQ.

It is no coincidence that the opening of our oil free trade route between France and Quebec is in partnership with Nicolas Feuillatte and the Champagne comity. France's most northerly vineyard, Champagne has been confronted for several years by the consequences of global warming.

This year again, the grape harvest will start at the beginning of September "with about ten days ahead of average because, just after flowering, we had a heatwave period, with more than 30 degrees during the day and 20 / 22 degrees at night "describes, in the middle of the green vineyards, Christophe Didier, winemaker. 

Committed for many years to return to the most natural and traditional manners possible, Christophe Didier accompanies the 4,500 winegrowers forming the cooperative Nicolas Feuillatte to help them adopt the most biological processes their is. "The evolution of the grapes, its maturation, is closely followed. What we are going to look for is above all a balance of sugar and acidity of the grapes," he notes.

For the champagne producers, global warming is not, for the moment, a drawback because the grapes are now harvested with optimum maturity and the great vintages are always more frequent. "It makes us start the harvest a few days before, but in reality, the grapes will always have their particular characteristic," says Christophe Didier, while cutting the vines.

Thus, instead of holding the harvest at the end of September - beginning of October, as it was the case about thirty years ago, "we spent about twenty years in grape harvest in mid-September." And some vineyards now harvest the precious nectar from the end of August.

"Faced with climate change, we may wonder how the Champagne vineyard will evolve... but here, we always knew how to adapt!" Tells the winemaker from his plot overlooking the majestic Côte des Blancs where Nicolas Feuillatte grows acres of Chardonnay. 

Without waiting for the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by the international community in 2015 with the aim of limiting the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees in 2050 (compared with +0.8 degrees at present), the Champagne producers have therefore implemented an ambitious carbon plan under the impulse of the Champagne comity, the interprofessional gathering of this exceptional wine.

Between 2003 and 2013, the carbon footprint of a bottle was reduced by 15%!

And with this first cargo sent to Quebec, without greenhouse gas emissions, Nicolas Feuillatte reaffirms, with Portfranc, his determination to reverse the trend.

 

L'Avontuur finally left the Canaries on August 28, heading for Quebec.

To be continued on www.portfranc.co!

 

Clément Sabourin