A growing boutique champagne maker is using horses and handpicked grapes to create a distinctive bubbly.
By Kelly Potts
Wikimedia Commons © Stefan Kühn
Champagne De Watère is in its fifth year of using traditional and eco-friendly methods to produce champagne in France. The luxury champagne company offers a Brut Rosé, a Brut Blanc and its Diamond Edition bottle that features a perfect 1-carat diamond set in a 1-ounce pure gold medal for €35,000. The Diamond Edition bottle can be tailored to fit any customer’s desires, whether that means personalizing it with a silver coin, a blue stone or anything else imaginable. (The versions not adorned with gems and precious metals sell for €199 to €279.)
Martin A. Konorza, owner and president of Champagne De Watère, states that one customer, or De Watèrian as the company refers to them, remarked “this champagne tastes like champagne might have tasted long ago, before the industrial market.” The company’s Brut Rosé and Brut Blanc champagnes were both awarded Great Gold from the International Wine Guide Awards, making them the only non-vintage to win this medal.
“It has been quite a good journey so far; there’s been a very good response from the market,” says Konorza. He credits the unique, traditional process that his company uses for its success thus far. Champagne De Watère prides itself on keeping its process as close to man-made as possible, even utilizing horses and handpicking the grapes rather than tractors for tasks in the vineyard, as well as hand-delivering the bottles from one step in the process to the next.
The company ages its champagne for a minimum of three years, which is double the amount that most non-vintages are given. Konorza says this greatly contributes to the unique taste and how powerful it is on the palate. “We give it time, we respect it as though it were a living thing,” he says.
Champagne De Watère also uses an organic marketing approach, relying on its very satisfied customers to recommend the champagne to friends. This method seems to be working, with over three-quarters of its customers returning, allowing the company to expand, covering Europe, Monaco and Switzerland. “We can’t produce mass-market products, so we are looking for those who are willing to try out something new,” says Konorza of their ideal customer, “He or she doesn’t settle for the ordinary.”
Konorza says he treats his customers well, explaining that a customer is never being assigned a number internally; he uses the customer’s last name to create the order number. The company also ensures a quick delivery, with orders being dispatched within 24 hours of the time they are placed.
The company worked with Heesen Yachts for the Monaco Yacht Show in September, where Konorza was excited to see potential customers and friends of their brand. “I encourage people to challenge it and try new things with the champagne,” he says, adding that Champagne De Watère is for the moments in life when everything has to be perfect.
In the future, Konorza hopes to establish Champagne De Watère as a household name for those who value exceptional products, while still maintaining the personal connection that his company has now.
The customizable €35,000 Diamond Edition bottle incorporates a perfect, 1-carat, round diamond set in a 1-ounce pure gold medal. Konorza designed it in 2011 to honor 925 years of family tradition. The bottle design includes two gryphons (the family symbol), the sun of creativity and a wreath of laurels.
Photos courtesy Champagne De Watère.