Thibaut Le Mailloux on Champagne

When Communications Director for the Comité Champagne (CIVC: Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne), the trade association that represents all the grape growers and houses of Champagne, France, Thibaut Le Mailloux was in Sydney recently, he generously shared some one on one time at Sydney Champagne bar One Moncur (over a glass of Champagne – of course!) Age 38, Mr. Le Mailloux is responsible for all communications and media relations on behalf of the Champagne appellation, including managing Champagne’s representatives and offices abroad.

Before commencing his post at Comité Champagne in January 2011, Mr. Mailloux led international communications for Cognac Hennessey. Prior to this role, he worked for the agency TBWA PARIS as the international commercial director and client services director for Absolut Vodka.

Mr. Mailloux holds a B.A. in Modern Literature from La Sorbonne University and graduated from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Grenoble. He also attained a post-graduate degree in marketing and communications at CELSA (Institute of Advanced Studies in Information and Communication at La Sorbonne University).

Thibaut Le Mailloux radiates charm, as well as total delight in his role. And the path from Vodka to Cognac to Champagne? He credits encounters and luck and opportunities. And lifestyle. All his roles, he tells me, have been about the people and the brands. Champagne is about the best moments in life, moments you don’t forget, something that makes the moment exceptional.

The quality of the moment, he continues, is about good places and good food, but most of all the quality of the people with whom you are sharing that moment.

Voila! (he was checking in at One Moncur on four square)

Once we’d got the technical formalities out of the way..

He reminded me that Champagne is about success. For example, Champagne is not a drink that you have during negotiations, it is the drink you have to celebrate when the contract is signed.

There’ll be no arguments from me. Champagne is ethereal and poetic. And he reminds me we should drink to remember not drink to forget!

“I love it!” as Champagne not only symbolises the drink, the wine, but all the universe that comes with it: grape growing, wine making, blending… He thinks that there is a paradox that many people forget because they are overwhelmed by Champagne – Champagne (he reaffirms) is a wine.

What is fantastic about this moment in time, is that we have moved forward. With the diversity of Champagne we have evolved from a time when Champagne was thought of as just an aperitif, or as a dessert wine, to embrace Champagne as a match to any course, with any food. He reminds me that rose Champagne (which I am drinking) is often considered feminine yet (and we pine) it matches with many dishes – he goes on to describe dishes such as a pork filet mignon. I, myself, am partial to a vintage rose Champagne and pork crackling as a particularly splendid match.

The Champagne brackets (from the Vin de Champagne awards dinner of the previous evening) and a more experimental approach to food matching are applauded. That dinner was a step outside the obvious.

As the wine of Champagne is evolving, and the food with which we marry it, so is his vision for the region. While the administrative and regulatory functions remain, Thibaut Le Mailloux returns the discussion to social media and how Comité Champagne is using these new tools to welcome a whole new generation. “More and more the world is not made out of little boxes.” There’s a YouTube channel, facebook, twitter and a new website. He is aware that the next generation is “not consuming media in the same way.”

Perhaps the most interesting change however, is that the Comité Champagne is broadening its scope to assist with the culture and tourism of the region. Champagne is tied to the terroir in more than one way.

Mr. Mailloux is passionate when he talks about a new charity to support the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Reims (which is still damaged from World War 1.) The Cathedral was where the Kings of France were crowned, he reminds. The Cathedral and Champagne are tied he continues – this is how Champagne received its reputation as the drink of Kings.

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