Is Drappier heralding a new era in Champagne?

Is Drappier heralding a new era in Champagne?
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Drappier makes history with all eight champagne grapes

Only seven approved grape varieties may be used for the fine prickler. Now there is an eighth grape - and Drappier completes its varietal set with the hybrid PIWI.

At an event in London, Michel Drappier, the seventh generation of his family to run the family business, said he would grow the youngest grape variety approved for champagne production - with the mysterious name "Voltis". This makes Drappier the first producer in Champagne to grow all eight of the grape varieties permitted in the appellation, having just planted the region's first hybrid variety.

Which grapes are allowed in the bubbly?

Champagne's long-established seven grape varieties include the region's three well-known (and almost exclusively used) grape varieties - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier - plus four other, rarer grape varieties, more precisely Petit Meslier, Arbane, Pinot Blanc and Fromenteau (the local name for Pinot Gris). In a speech to the British press and professionals in March, Drappier said he was "proud to plant all seven" grape varieties of Champagne, and will "plant the eighth next month."


The newest grape variety, planted now, will not be able to be used for wine production until 2028. And should this wine be used to make a champagne, it can end up in a cuvée in 2030 at the earliest. What exactly is behind the eighth grape? Called "Voltis", it is the first hybrid variety approved in the region and the first PIWI grape in Champagne - meaning primarily fungus-resistant grapes.

"Voltis" is a white grape variety developed by the French INRAE (the National Research Institute of Agriculture, Food and Environment in France) and the German Julius Kühn Institute, as part of a project launched in 2000 to develop PIWI grape varieties.

10 years test phase

According to Michel's son Hugo, who manages the vineyards of the Drappier winery, "Voltis" is only permitted on an experimental basis, with plantings limited to less than 5% of a plot. In addition, a wine made from "Voltis" may only be used up to a maximum of 10% in a cuvée. Moreover, these rules will apply for the next 10 years, during which the quality of the champagne produced from the grape will be analysed. If the "Voltis" grape does not deliver sufficient quality after this test phase, it could also be from the "Cahier des Charges" of Champagne.

Ferdinand von Vopelius
Ferdinand von Vopelius
Portalmanager Österreich