It currently produces half a million bottles of its Brut Vintage NV, which – like Charles Heidsieck and Krug – is aged for five years on the lees and is designed to be a non-vintage wine wrapped up as a vintage Champagne.
By 2020 it aims to increase this to 1 million bottles, and then hit 2 million bottles by 2025, at which point it will stop expanding to focus on year on year quality and consistency.
It has also overhauled its labelling and marketing to appeal to younger consumers and has launched a new cuvee called Hors Categorie, which is made up of 15 base wines from 2008, 2009 and 2010 and retails at £85, to offer shoppers something different.
The Champagne was named after a World War I general, but it has been decided that is “not sexy for the future”, while it has gone from being called Champagne de Castelnau to just Champagne Castelnau as part of a rebrand.
Managing director Pascal Prudhomme, who heads up a team of 100, told OLN: “Tradition is very nice but when you have competitors entering the market with different ideas you have to innovate. We had to renew the image of our label and our brand.
“In the UK we have great competition from Prosecco. Demand is increasing a lot.
It is so very important to think about having nice packaging. It’s rather new and more interesting than classic bottles of Champagne.
“Sixty per cent of our business is exports and the UK is the main market, as it is for all Champagne companies. The UK is 70% of our export business.
“We don’t want to be in Tesco and Sainsbury’s with it. We are working with a very special, high class wine that is unique and we don’t want people to only think about Champagne at the lowest price. Quality has to lead the market. That’s the main key to develop and reinforce the image of Champagne. Discounts on Champagne are not good for the Champagne brand.
“Young people are enjoying sparkling wine and have a nice image of competitors like Prosecco. Nevertheless those consumers will want to have status through Champagne in future years. The image and added value of Champagne is so important to people that those generations will start to enjoy it.
“We produce around 320 million bottles. We will never produce a billion bottles a year. This is not the objective of the region. We are thinking about a 3.3 billion bottle global market and we are 12% of that. The main point is to drive value and to improve the image and make consumers proud of what they are tasting.”