Nicolas Feuillatte is a cooperative based in Chouilly, in the Champagne appellation. The cooperative’s full name is Centre Vinicole – Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and it is made up of more than 5,000 individual grape growers who own vineyards throughout the Champagne region. The center was started in 1972 as a storage and winemaking center for grape growers, then took on the Nicolas Feuillatte name in 1986 when it acquired a domaine owned by Nicolas Feuillatte. Feuillatte was a businessman and diplomat before returning to Champagne to start his own Champagne house. He died in 2014. The cooperative has access to grapes from 7,500 acres, and its fruit comes from 13 of the 17 Champagne Grand Cru vineyards, 33 of the 42 Premier Cru vineyards and 259 other vineyards. The brand offers a full range of vintage and non-vintage Champagnes and is noted for its elegance and finesse. The winemaker for more than 30 years has been Jean-Pierre Vincent.
Champagne is a small, beautiful wine growing region northeast of Paris whose famous name is misused a million times a day. As wine enthusiasts and all French people are well aware, only sparkling wines produced in Champagne from grapes grown in Champagne can be called Champagne. Sparkling wines produced anywhere else, including in other parts of France, must be called something besides Champagne. Champagne producers are justifiably protective of their wines and the prestige associated with true Champagne. Though the region was growing grapes and making wines in ancient times, it began specializing in sparkling wine in the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon formulated a set guidelines to improve the quality of the local sparkling wines. Despite legends to the contrary, Dom Pérignon did not “invent” sparkling wine, but his rules about aggressive pruning, small yields and multiple pressings of the grapes were widely adopted, and by the 18th and 19th centuries Champagne had become the wine of choice in fashionable courts and palaces throughout Europe. Today there are 75,000 acres of vineyards in Champagne growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne’s official appellation system classifies villages as Grand Cru or Premier Cru, though there are also many excellent Champagnes that simply carry the regional appellation. Along with well-known international Champagne houses there are numerous so-called “producer Champagnes,” meaning wines made by families who, usually for several or more generations, have worked their own vineyards and produced Champagne only from their own grapes.