bM chats to: MADAME NATHALIE VRANKEN CO-OWNER OF VRANKEN-POMMERY
BM’S CHAMPAGNE EXPERT BELINDA AUCOTT CHATS TO MADAME NATHALIE VRANKEN, CO-OWNER OF VRANKEN-POMMERY AT THE CHAMPAGNE BAR, Sofitel Sydney in Darling Harbour and learns why Champagne is like a beautiful woman…
Champagne makes celebrations more beautiful and delicious. One needn’t look far to find those who will corroborate this fact. Take Madame Nathalie Vranken, the co-owner of Champagne House Pommery for example.
When we meet, she is wearing a navy-blue suit, with sleeves encrusted with tiny pearls. Her suits takes the blue colour of the famous Pommery label, while the decorative pearls seem to echo the shapes of the bubbles in her champagne.
A top marketing expert in Paris, before she met and married her husband, Madame Vranken’s life is a sort of French fairy tale. She studied marketing at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, before opening her own agency in 1987 called NICO.
Since she has taken the reins as the marketing force behind Vranken-Pommery-Monopole, Nathalie Vranken has aligned Pommery with arts philanthropy, faithfully restored the Villa Demoiselle close to Reims, and travelled the world as a business envoy. Madame Vranken has a theatrical swagger, but the floorshow is underpinned by an intellectual approach to wine.
Seated at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, Vranken admits to loving the hotel’s to Champagne bar where the only problem is which champagne to choose as there are so many on the list.
“I was here for the opening and look how busy it is,” she says. “Australians love Champagne.”
Of all the countries Vranken says Australians are still the most inventive at finding new ways to drink it.
“You have created some incredible habits. It is the kind of country where you have Thirsty Thursday; isn’t there also some expression for Friday, and for the weekend?” Madame Vranken says with a laugh.
The drinking culture here might be extreme, especially in comparison to France, but she is quick to point out how tastes and fashions are changing in Champagne. Later in the evening as she drifts between the tables she declares today women are more health conscious and far more aware of the sugar they consume.
Today the Pommery house supports the movement toward low dosage, low sugar champagne and likes many in her region she is vocally advocating champagne with less grams of sugar per litre. This is in part due to the affect of climate change on the climate in the north of France and greater ripeness being possible now but it also reflects changing social mores.
Sophisticated drinkers are moving away from the cloying richness of syrupy drinks and seeking out bone dry champagne that expresses the nuance of terroir.
“Champagne is like a beautiful woman,” Madame Vranken explains. “You don’t need to cover her in make-up if she has true beauty. You want to see as much as possible,” she explains.
When it comes to their long history she is most proud of the fact that her Maison’s guiding light Louise Pommery was a woman pioneered a dry style of wine. Louise Pommery was another woman who was ahead of her time, speaking English and adopting an international attitude to import and export trade.
Many years on and many miles away from her home Vranken says that Australia with all of its sun, laidback people and great food is a recipe for intoxication. “You are a beautiful country, but I think that what’s most incredible for me is that you are happy people. You have the chance to live in a happy country and you are happy people. So you celebrate all year long, all day, every day and all year long.”
Feeling thirsty? Watch an excerpt from the night at Champagne Bar here:
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