Pommery began producing in Champagne in the mid-19th century. (photos courtesy of the winery)

We’ll always be thankful to Madame Pommery.

Light her a candle, sing her a song, dance with her creation across the room, casting aside your human partner to caress that bottle of Brut Champagne Royal she invented. Where would we be without her?

The visionary Madame Pommery foresaw and helped force a change in drinking fashion. In the 1850s, she eschewed the sweet wine popular at the time, and began making Brut Champagne. Besides gifting us with her crisp, light concoction (to this day, faintly floral and blessed with the most diminutive bubbles), her legacy and penchant for innovation lives on. The brand is currently on a journey toward greater sustainability, and looking to other realms (England and California) to carry on the Pommery traditions.

We spoke to Nathalie Vranken, owner of Champagne Pommery, about eco-conscious wine culture and what to nibble with your champers during the holidays.

Sustainability has become an important issue for wine drinkers. How are you increasing sustainability and eco-consciousness in your viticulture practices?

We are excited to announce that the Champagne vineyards of the Vranken-Pommery Group have started their conversion to Organic Viticulture from the 2020 harvest onwards. This conversion involves 175 hectares of the 285 hectares managed by the Group in Champagne.

Understated packaging is another of the house’s hallmarks.

The conversion, with a minimum duration of three years, will be progressive to adapt our vineyards and our structure to this demanding viticulture.

Our decision is the culmination of many years of large-scale experimentation encompassing all our vineyards. Based on the firm conviction of President Paul-François Vranken, organic viticulture comes naturally within the scope of our Group philosophy; currently almost 2,000 hectares of vines in Camargue and in Provence, which belong to Vranken-Pommery, are certified as Organic Viticulture (1,070 hectares) or in conversion (908 hectares).

All of our vineyards in Camargue and in Provence will, by the way, be certified as Organic Viticulture at the 2023 harvest. At the same time, Quinta do Grifo and its 130 hectares situated in the Douro Superior in Portugal just started its conversion to Organic Viticulture at the 2020 harvest.

And Pommery continues to expand.

In 1857, Louis Pommery decided to extend the Champagne market to the U.S.—and was looking for soils to make a sparkling wine. In 1874, the first bottles of Brut Nature were resting in the cellars of the brand-new Domaine Pommery. 

The house is among the region’s most legendary.

Paul-François Vranken continued the quest, starting in 2004: Throughout the world, he seeks soils which produce grapes of an extremely high quality and allow for the making of a sparkling wine with a strong identity.

We hence made the bet that Pommery would be able to develop an excellent sparkling wine in the Hampshire region in Great Britain. This is where the original chalk vein is located, which can also be found in Champagne. With a genuine richness only a stone’s throw away, we could not ignore it.

Napa Valley is another exceptional place to make our sparkling wine. It offers a myriad of microclimates, which can go from the coolest to the sunniest within a range of only a few kilometers. You can find vines for a cool climate like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You can also discover throughout the region an exceptionally large diversity of soils with perfectly drained gravel, silt, poor rocks, volcanic ashes, and quartz, which are ideal for the elaboration of our sparkling.

It’s the holidays; what do you recommend for the most festive of occasions? 

For special occasions, we propose the Pommery Grand Cru, a vintage champagne. Our Cuvée Louise 2004 is our exceptional cuvée which can be marvelously paired with langoustines or a truffle risotto. The Cuvée Louise is also available as a Champagne Nature, i.e. without dosage. This Cuvée Louise Nature 2004 with all its delicacy can be paired with a blue lobster.

And for New Year’s?

 Champagne Pommery Rosé of course, to propose a toast with your loved ones.