Stanislas Thienot is the handsome son of Alain Thienot, the founder of prestige maison Champagne Thienot. He came 14th with his sister Garance in the list of the 200 major personalities of wine in France, published a month ago by La Revue de Vins de France.
The video interview I made in 2016 is now sadly lost in the sands of time, brought down for some reasons by my old employer. Luckily I still have the transcript, which I am publishing here with some minor editing.
I think it is useful to underline that the Thienot group also owns Marie Stuart, Joseph Perrier, Canard-Duchêne, another three companies in Bordeaux (Dourthe, Delor, Kressmann) and one in Argentina (Clos de La Siete). It is at present the eighth major Champagne group. Now let’s go to the interview.
You are a relatively young maison (1985). How do you introduce your company in a world like that of wine, where tradition and history are very much valued?
Surely there are many centuries old Champagne producers, but we are proud of being a young maison. Being young does not mean that you cannot be good. My father has worked for a long time as a broker between the growers and the maisons, so he has been able to deepen his knowledge of the Champagne terroir and diversity. This knowledge of is the true basis of our company.
So, the knowledge of the terroir is more important than the age of the company.
Exactly. Knowing the best producers is very important and this was the job of my father for 20 years: he would go to them and consult with them. By talking with the growers he was able to discover the best plots of the region.
It is very rare for a maison to have such knowledge, but a broker does that all the time. Owners, managers, winemakers all have to do different jobs, but a brokers does just this.
Coming to the wines, I think it is very important for a house to have a good standard cuvée, both white and rosé. It is something like the “business card” of a company. Can you tell us about your Brut and Brut Rosé?
Yes, non-vintage cuvées are the most important for a company, they really are the business card of a producer and they introduce they style of the house. Moreover, non-vintage Champagne represent the 80% of the total production, so they are very important and also very complicated to make: the style must always stay the same, but the quality of the grapes is different every year. For this reason every year we choose different terroirs.
The Brut and Brut Rosé reflect our philosophy. First of all we want pure, clean fruit, freshness and elegance. Freshness is the key point of Champagne: we are in the northernmost part of France and thanks to the high acidity we can make wines with an elegant beautiful freshness that can age for a very long time. We want it to be fresh, so that you can keep drinking it and maybe order another bottle!
You make a “Family range” of champagnes where you name all the wine from a different member of the family. Is the style of each cuvée based on the character of each member? Like the elegance of Stanislas Cuvée-the wine coming from the elegance of Stanislas Thienot-the man?
Ahah, not really. Cuvée Stanislas first vintage was in 1995, so I wasn’t still working in the company. However my sister name, Garance, means madder or the typical color that we get from this flower. Since this is a shade of red, we chose Pinot Noir and not Chardonnay as the main component of the blend. In the case of cuvée Garance we also wanted to create a feminine vintage champagne based on Pinot Noir. Of course being a Grand Cru it shows some power, but at the same time it keeps a remarkable elegance.
Today we had 2002, 2004 and 2005 vintages. Are you trying to release a vintage Champagne every year?
Well, our maison has many vintage champagnes. Other than the non-vintages, we have the vintage Family series, vintage Blanc de Blancs, vintage Blanc de Noirs, a vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the single vineyard “La Vigne aux Gamins”. We have many vintage labels, so if the quality is good we can release vintage cuvées almost every year. There are some years when Pinot Noir is better and some other years when Chardonnay is better. We consider the quality of each and we decide what vintage label would be better to release. In the years when they are both good, we release the blended vintage. For us it is very simple.
We have also to consider the production volume of each vintage cuvée. For example we made Cuvée Garance 2002, 2006 and 2007, but the quantities were very tiny: only 6000 bottles for 2002 and 7000 bottles each for 2006 and 2007.
I see, you have many cuvées and many terroirs and this is why you can release so many vintage champagnes.
Exactly, and also because production volumes are small. If we had to produce ten thousands bottles we could do that only once every two or three years. It would take time.
Last question: today you insisted in having the wines served in a white wine glass and not the flute. Is the white wine glass better for Champagne, as many say?
I like the flute, but I think that our vintage champagnes should be left breathing for some time before drinking and this is faster in a bigger glass. They may have been aged in the cellar for eight, nine, twelve years, so they should be left in contact with the air at first. The wine changes: it is already good at first, but it is also interesting to experience its evolution. It becomes completely different. For this, a bigger glass is very useful.