« Our family has been in Champagne for over a century, in one of the world's most pretigious wine regions. Over the generations, we have developed and handed down a heritage and an expertise dominated by a quest for excellence. »
Ernest Rapeneau founded his champagne and wine business in 1901 in the village of Hautvillers, the cradle of champagne. However, it was not until 1927, when the viticultural boundaries of Champagne were fixed, that Ernest began to specialise in the champagne trade.
This turned out to be an excellent decision as viticulture in Champagne was in the midst of a structuring phase. As a result of these essential regulations, he was able to select his wines more carefully and improve the quality of his business to a remarkable extent. Ernest Rapeneau was, first and foremost, a lover of champagne wines.
In 1936, the supremacy of champagne wines was finally acknowledged with the birth of the “Champagne Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée” (AOC). This was a high point for his business, which already enjoyed an excellent reputation. He decided to broaden his range and extend his distribution network, encouraged by the widespread increase in champagne wine sales.
After fifty years’ hard work, he finally retired from business in 1965, leaving two of his sons, François and Bernard, who had joined the House in 1944, to run his company.
The personality of Champagne E. Rapeneau is based mainly on that of its founder and his descendants: everyone has been able to find his own place within this family business. For 4 generations, everyone’s aim has been to preserve, perpetuate, adapt and improve a priceless traditional heritage.
Christophe joined the family business as soon as he’d graduated in oenology from the University of Reims in 1983. He spent his first few years there modernising the fermenting room and production system in order to guarantee the authenticity of his work.
Christophe’s own character includes the distinctive qualities of the three Champagne grape varieties. First of all there’s the structure of Pinot Noir, because the head cellarman has to be well-organised and methodical as he works through the various stages involved in producing his cuvées. Then he’s got the lively spark of Pinot Meunier; he’s a man of the land, constantly wondering about the way the vineyard is changing. Finally, there’s the finesse of Chardonnay - a recognised quality of this particular grape variety – epitomising the Champagne wine-maker’s subtle, precise palate.
Although he’s now head of the House, first and foremost Christophe’s still in love with winegrowing - especially champagne. We’re also lucky enough to have some really good partners who’ve shown enormous trust in us; our company now sources grapes from more than a hundred wine presses, allowing us to produce champagnes made from rich, varied assemblages and thus satisfy a wide range of tasters.
Personally I’ve got a weakness for rosé champagne... This is a fast-growing market and also a kind of champagne which is really popular with women who, as you know, are its biggest fans and consumers...
Christophe's one of the leading masters in his discipline, with all the experience that comes from more than thirty years of grape harvests and he’s already made wine in Champagne on more than one occasion… Bring on the next vintages...