Nicolas Feuillatte, the French entrepreneur behind the Champagne of the same name, has died at the age of 88.
A man who made his fortune in the coffee business, Paris-born Feuillatte was a well-known figure in the US, where he mixed with the New York jet-set, including celebrity friends such as Jackie Kennedy-Onassis and Lauren Bacall, the Hollywood actress who died this year, August 12, at the age of 89.
The Champagne which bears his name, has been produced by the region’s biggest union of co-operatives since 1986.
It is the number one selling Champagne brand in France and the third biggest-selling Champagne brand in the world, behind Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, selling 9.9m bottles in 2013.
Feuillatte made his fortune by predicting the boom in instant coffee sales in the US after the Second World War and became the leading importer of coffee into the US from Africa.
In 1962, he became the permanent United Nations representative for Ivory Coast, one of the world’s leading coffee-producing countries.
In 1976, he took over his family’s 12-hectare Champagne vineyard at Domaine de Bouleuse, in the Ardre Valley near Reims, and started producing Champagne under his own name.
With his celebrity connections, Feuillatte’s Champagne quickly became popular in the US, to the extent that supply was soon unable to match demand.
In 1986, Feuillatte sold the brand to the up-and-coming Centre Vinicole de Champagne, founded as a storage and vinification unit for wine growers in 1972 under ambitious president Henri Macquart.
Since then, the business has expanded to become the biggest federation of grower co-operatives in Champagne, comprising more than 5,000 growers, 80 member co-operatives and 2,150 hectares of vineyard.
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