Georgeta Bosce, editor of the Romanian magazine Revista Millésime interviewed Richard recently.
Question no1.You organised one of the most grandious champagne tastings ever. Are you planning to repeat this experience in the future?
RJ: ‘Mr Taittinger told me to wait until the next millennium to do the next. Perhaps he is right? Anyway it will be impossible for anyone to repeat it exactly on this level since some of the champagnes do not exist anymore. But I have have started to think of a similar event in a not too far future.’
Question no2. Looking back to the grand tasting, is there anything that you wished it turned out differently?
RJ: ‘I am a perfectionist so I always see things that could be done better. But on the other hand what is done is done and I really must say that the event was a dream coming true and it turned out even better than my dream.’
Question no3.You mentioned that in the ’20-’30s most Champagne houses used oak barrels and the styles were similar. When did the oak started to be used again and what do believe will be the trend from now ?
RJ ‘Only Gratien, Bollinger and Krug always kept the oak and the methods suitable for wood. In the 90s some started to use oak for their cuvee the prestige and in 2000 many, especially the top class growers who are using more and more ecological methods are very keen on using wood. It is a very strong trend and in my mind it is a very good one right now since the balance between stainless steel and wood is perfect right now. If the amount of wood is increasing even more we will start to miss the pure terroirdriven fruity champagnes made in stainless steel.’
Question no4.How many of the champagnes tasted more then 10 years ago are still available for purchase today?
RJ: ‘In the condition we tasted where most of them were vinothéque champagnes coming directly from the producers extremely few are still available. Perhaps a few of them could still be around on auctions but in a rather risky state most of the time.’
Question no5.We noticed that there is a new trend in Champagne with many small artisanal growers that employ bio dynamic agriculture, producing mainly Extra Brut wines. Is this a style that will grow bigger from now or has it always been like this in the past also ?
RJ: ‘This trend is new and very positive in my opinion.’
Question no6.Will the large growers also shift to this trend for their NV or vintage wines ?
RJ: ‘Everyone in Champagne are moving slowly towards methods closer to nature but the biggest brands will never afford the risk to go all the way since the border line climate is to elusive and risky. They might lose a whole harvest if something goes wrong.’
Question no7. Can you mention a few of the new growers that you discovered and enjoyed recently ?
RJ: ‘No that is a secret. You have to read my new book “A scent of Champagne” that will be released in September.’
Question no8. It is said that you have an impressive personal champagne collection. How many bottles are there and which are the items that you are most proud of?
RJ: ‘It is not bad but I have seen much bigger ones. I am proud of having so many magnums and so many different producers and vintages. The mix is lovely.’
Question no9.You are considered to be the number one Champagne expert in the World…how much work does this title stand for? when did it all start?
RJ: ‘All successful people are a mix of talent, passion and hard training. My special gift is that I am born with a photographic sense of smell which is a great help in blind tastings. My passion started after a trip to Champagne in 1986 and I train my nose and brain everyday by sniffing and analyzing life.’
Question no10. This autumn your new book will come out. You included there a chapter 100 Champagnes you ought to drink before you die…what would be the top ten?
RJ: ‘Also a secret until the book is released!’