Located in its beautiful house of the early 20th century on Avenue de Champagne in Epernay (just opposite Boizel), de Venoge was the first maison, in 2016, to turn into a boutique hotel, with a champagne bar in the renovated stable. Part of Lanson-BCC, the house is widely present in the French market. It is lately enjoying greater visibility abroad as its champagnes earned impressive ratings by the prestigious publication Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, becoming one of the best-rated Champagne houses.
In 1825, Henri-Marc de Venoge from the Vaude region in Switzerland, moved to Champagne to set up, in 1837, its wine trade in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ under the name de Venoge & Cie. In 1838, he created the first illustrated label in the history of champagne and sold 6,000 bottles in March and 22,000 in April of the same year. By May 1838, sales were being made to clients in Brussels and Mannheim, and 10,000 more bottles had been sent out. The next stops on its expansion were London, Pforzheim, Karlsruhe, Fribourg, Ulm, Munich, Antwerp, and Copenhagen.
Henri-Marc retired in 1845 and his son Joseph, a leading figure of Epernay’s aristocracy, took over and further developed the brand on the international scene with the help of his brother Léon who settled in the United States. Soon, de Venoge champagne was being dispatched to New-York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, but also Port-au-Prince, and even Calcutta. In 1858 he launched Cordon Bleu (Blue Ribbon) champagne, the emblem of the house, in remembrance of the Venoge river in the Vaude where the family originated.
In 1866, Gaëtan de Venoge, son of Joseph, succeeded his father. He continued developing the sales abroad, especially in the United States, and in 1876 de Venoge was awarded the Grand Prize of Excellence at the Universal Exhibition of Philadelphia. In 1882, de Venoge was among the founding members of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques de Champagne.
In 1892, Gaëtan’s son-in-law, the Marquis Adrien de Mun took over the head of the house together with his wife Yvonne de Venoge and developed the brand in Paris’ high society and among the European aristocracy. At that time, de Venoge was dispatching over 1 million bottles against 30 million for the whole of Champagne. The Marquis de Mun died in 1922 and left his mother-in-law and his widow in charge of the company.
The last direct heir of the de Venoge family left the helm of the firm in 1958. After experiencing some vicissitudes common to many other Champagne houses, in 1998 de Venoge became part of the Boizel Chanoine Champagne group (that eventually became Lanson-BCC). This is when Gilles de la Bassetière joined the house, first taking care of the US market and eventually becoming its president in 2005. He is the man driving the late resurgence of the house and the evolution in quality and style of its champagnes ever since.
Vineyard and Production
De Venoge doesn’t own any vineyard and sources all its grapes from selected vine growers with whom they have a close personal relation, but they systematically refuse grapes that do not conform to their quality requirements. The house does not disclose its production volumes, but estimates suggest something in the region of 1 million bottles per year. They only use the cuvée, age their champagne for at least three years, and include low dosages for great freshness. After disgorgement, the bottles benefit of a few months of additional resting to let the wines “recover,” and for some cuvées, of several years to add greater complexity.
De Venoge champagnes are fresh, light and elegant, together with a certain vinosity.
The range is wide and structured in three tiers: the Cordon Bleu range, the Princes range, and the Louis XV prestige cuvées. The first include Brut, Extra Brut, Brut Rosé, and Blanc de Noirs, all non-vintage. The second is also made of non-vintage, but of higher quality, and includes Extra Brut, Rosé, Blanc de Noirs, and Blanc de Blancs. I am a great fan of the Princes Range, with their captivating decanter-shaped bottles, and particularly of Blanc de Noirs. But the real gem of this house is their prestige cuvée Louis XV–also available in Rosé–that is spectacular, very complex and elegant, fresh and precise. It can be tasted, like all the other champagnes, by the glass at the wine bar at de Venoge in Epernay.