Rémy Cointreau’s Champagne Telmont has seen double-digit growth in volumes for its wines since the introduction of an environmental policy two years ago.

The project, dubbed In The Name Of Mother Nature, is part of the winery’s push towards long-term sustainability led by president and shareholder Ludovic du Plessis.

Changes included axing gift boxes, which du Plessis said can reduce each bottle’s carbon footprint by 8%.

The brand, backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has also developed lighter bottles and said it is the first to put Champagne in an 800g bottle. The producer has made the technology openly available.

From the 2021 vintage it moved its range into green, rather than clear, glass bottles made from 87% recycled glass.

Speaking to Just Drinks in London, du Plessis said peers had been dubious of Telmont’s success potential following the changes.

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He said: “People told me: ‘You are going to lose sales.’ Two years after, I can tell you it’s double-digit growth in terms of volume, in terms of sales. It’s been crazy.”

He said working closely with suppliers to explain “we make Champagne, we don’t make gift boxes” is crucial. Telmont is sold 70% in the on-premise, 20% off-premise and 10% D2C – and du Plessis caveated: “Never, ever mass market.”

He said: “It’s just a question about education: education of the retailer, to tell him our project to tell him our philosophy, and these guys love it. Even in Japan where they are geeks of gift boxes, they said: ‘No. Okay, we understand. We’re going to spread the good word.’

“When you buy your Château Pétrus or Lafite, you don’t get a gift box, or limited-edition packaging. No, it’s just in silk, paper and whatever. So at the end of the day, my experience two years [is] after double-digit growth. No issue with the sales.”

He added: “Honestly, if you are a true leader in sustainability, you’re not going to wait five years for the client to tell you: ‘I don’t want the gift box anymore because there is no planet B.’ You act now. As a leader, you set the tone. You change the habits.”

Rémy Cointreau secured majority control of Telmont in 2020 – at which time du Plessis, previously global executive director of Louis XIII cognac, became president.

With the ambition of “making a business for good, with purpose”, du Plessis launched In The Name Of Mother Nature in June 2021.

Telmont is sold in 30 cities in approximately ten countries, its main markets being the US, Japan, UK and France.

du Plessis also has his eyes on Korea, which he said is a high-value market for Champagne with plenty of consumer demand. He said he was “confident” the brand would soon be available in Korea but it was “too soon” to give further details.

He also highlighted Japan as an exciting, growing market. “They love Champagne, they love sustainability, they love transparency, they love Telmont – because we are all three,” he said.

“I spent last week in Tokyo and Kyoto and they were just amazing. People really understand the philosophy of Telmont, the transparency, the label and the wine. The wine has very small bubbles and it’s very ethereal. That’s what they love. They don’t want heavy stuff.”

The ex-Dom Pérignon executive also has plans to expand production at the winery, though emphasised this would happen “slowly”.

Telmont produces 400,000 bottles per year, and du Plessis said: “If we go to 600,000 I will be super happy.”

The company employs 17 people across all functions. It’s traditional brut forms around 80% of volumes and has an RRP of £52 ($63.40), while the rosé forms around 10% and costs £62. Its blanc de blancs has an RRP of £155, its blanc de noir £140 and its new cuvee, lieu dit, is £260.

Interview: “As a true leader in sustainability, you set the tone” – Champagne Telmont’s Ludovic du Plessis on blazing a trail in sustainability