Meet La Transmission around a cross interview …
The 9 members of La Transmission answer 9 questions to explain what the association is about: its creation, its values, its mission, and its actions.
“ La Transmission was founded on the initiative of Anne Malassagne, Maggie Henriquez and Evelyne Boizel, but how or why did this adventure begin? “
Out of a desire to act together. It is a way to give back and build the future of Champagne by inviting other women to commit themselves and get involved in its development.
I took over the estate from my father in 1993. I was young and I didn’t have any formal training as a winemaker. I had to fight for many years to acquire legitimacy and to gain credibility. Several years later, it seemed obvious to me that I had a responsibility to help other women in Champagne find their voice and give them greater visibility, and thus encourage more women to join the world of wine.
It comes from a desire felt during my life as head of our house: to have a free space for thinking and discussing with a small group of women from Champagne. Women with very diverse experiences and eager to assert the legitimacy of women at all levels and so together contribute to a better understanding of Champagne.
From a desire to learn from each other, to authentically share our journeys as women, and to push leadership in Champagne towards genuine parity -beyond symbolic nominations- in order to ensure the success of our companies, both today and tomorrow.
Why did you choose the name: “La Transmission – Femmes en Champagne” ?
It is a very strong word which underlines the unique dimension of our group. Alongside the pleasure of meeting and discussing with each other, it is the desire to pass on our experience, to enable diverse audiences to understand, to feel the emotion and the diversity of the wines of Champagne, and to recognise women both in terms of their commitment and their legitimacy.
Transmission is such a rich word in meanings, evoking the concepts of charting a path forward and of growth. Associated with “Femmes en Champagne”, it reflects the idea of sharing, of exchanging and also the influence of the women who drive our group forward.
It is a name that perfectly illustrates the dynamic within our group and helps to think about the importance of transmission, as well as the many different forms that transmission can take.
As the last member to join the group in 2018, I immediately understood the notion of Transmission to be a sincere form of solidarity, certainly between us, but also between all the women interested in learning more about our profession, far from the usual commercial issues.
Through your actions, your interviews and your workshops, what do you want to transmit?
Clearly, it’s plain to see in all of these answers that it is the values that unite us, and that we wish to share with others. The bond to Champagne, to its terroirs. The diversity of our histories, each of them being an invitation to enter into the great history of the Champagne region. The desire to share the wines of Champagne with both simplicity and depth. I will add something else: the way our group functions is also a message. It is a way of showing that being unique does not prevent from being united – just as being united does not threaten our uniqueness… It is the values we strive for that allow us to move forward together.
All of that indeed – and much more! Conviviality, sharing, respect and equity: we share everything in total openness and listen with enormous respect for each other, without any power struggles, with the sole objective of bringing Champagne to life through ourselves, and through our experiences. We share a passion for excellence: each one of us in her own world fights to create beautiful Champagnes that illustrate the diversity and beauty of this fabulous region, with a special attention paid to our vineyards. And of course, the desire to involve more women in the decision-making roles in Champagne. We know that there is still a lot to transmit to give Champagne a more important place in the lives of our consumers, a place that goes beyond celebration.
If I had to sum it up in a few sentences, I would choose two key themes. In the wake of a workshop, to convey the importance of amplifying the voices of sisterhood and of sharing experiences. And also to express the range of emotions you can feel when tasting Champagne, and to discuss terroirs with the people who make the wines and work the land.
First and foremost, diversity. In Champagne, there is wealth of experience to be drawn from each terroir, each village, each estate, and each woman. Our respective stories must be able to convince the women around the world who are passionate about Champagne that there is a place for each of them.
During the workshops, we saw both students very curious to learn more, as well as journalists, amateurs and professionals. To whom is this association speaking?
In fact this group is for anyone and everyone who loves both the wines and the region of Champagne to the point of wanting to discover more. Those intrigued by the story and sensitivity of 9 women whose energy is mostly dedicated to these wines. Those who like to feel the soul of wines and are convinced that the men and women sign the taste of their wines. Those who want to listen to the feminine side of Champagne, to share its values, to learn its vision.
To women and men, to the curious, to the discoverers, to the adventurous who want to learn new facets of this legendary wine, to those who are not jaded, those who want to discover and take the time to learn, those for whom tasting is also a moment of sharing, of meeting, of exchange, and of pleasure. To women interested in our professions and who will contact us to ask us questions…
Champagne carries with it a certain mystery, it is sometimes believed to be inaccessible, “luxurious”, even arrogant. To all those intimidated by this heritage, La Transmission reconnects with all that is human and all that is real. We hope to inspire the current generations of Champagne enthusiasts, men and women, to be the future players in the trade.
How does your mission reflect in your events ?
By talking about wine, offering a technical and original experience, exploring the complexity of our appellation, but all in an uninhibited and accessible way. We hope the innovative format of our tastings and limited number of attendees will enable real exchanges during our workshops.
A desire to be concrete and to practice what we preach: discussion, tasting, exchange, and discovery. Our affordable events are accessible to new and younger audiences. We want to humanise Champagne through direct contact with each of the women of La Transmission.
The workshops we host are opportunities for sharing and discussing our journeys, the challenges we have faced, as well as our convictions. They are also opportunities for discovery and for learning about the diversity of Champagne. They are also an invitation to taste Champagne in a simpler way, in a way that is closer to what people are looking for today.
9 women leaders in Champagne may look like 9 people experiencing the same reality and problems, but what makes you different from each other ?
Our differences are the main asset of our association. We have different profiles: President of an independent house or of one belonging to a group, winegrower in daily contact with the vineyard, one more oriented towards communication and marketing, another versatile or more expert, in action or in reflection, with live experiences mostly in Champagne or more abroad… This diversity is our strongest point and leads us to focus on our approaches and struggles in different ways, allowing us to transmit all the diverse facets of Champagne.
Everything differentiates us from one another but the essential brings us together! Our ages are different. We come from different regions of Champagne, our companies are of very different sizes. Our studies and our careers were different as well as the reasons which led us to make certain choices in life. And our personalities are of course very different, which makes all the richness and interest of this joint work.
And what binds you ? And allows you to act together ?
Fundamentally, what brings us together is a shared ambition to bring Champagne closer to the people. We are brought closer together by the desire to make the wines of Champagne known for the quality found in its diversity, which is what we represent as individuals! We share a love and passion for our region and for what we can offer. We enjoy working together and deeply respect and treat each other with total equity, and we share the desire to invite other women to join the Champagne region as decision-makers.
The same desire to share, and above all, to have a good time. There is a lot of generosity in this group, and a wonderful emulation, encouraging each other to see farther !
For you, what are some of the tasting habits that need to change ?
The first point on which we all agree is the importance of using the right glassware. The wines from Champagne are wines, and as such deserve a minimum of aeration and a shape of the glass that allows this. Also, one must not forget that a bottle of Champagne is a parcel of joy! You don’t need something exceptional to celebrate; let Champagne bring a bit of the exceptional to the ordinary !
For me, things are open ! We must be able to juggle freely between respecting traditions or, on the contrary, daring to challenge them. Everyone’s desire and imagination must enrich the rituals associated with Champagne. In its DNA, the “gold” of queens and kings contains a crazy dose of eccentricity. I like the idea that we can have different tastings for different moments. Taking two extremes, Champagne can both be a journey that requires all the attention and precision necessary for tasting a great wine, but it can also be appreciated in the effervescence of a party in an unusual place. One calls for silence, perhaps even solitude, whereas the other is naturally linked to the sharing of emotions. There are over a thousand different ways to enjoy Champagne, you just need to know how to play with your senses – and to listen to your instinct.
Habits and customs change with each generation. Regarding glassware, the Age of Enlightenment and the Romantics chose the “coupe” as the ideal vessel for serving Champagne. The flute was used in the last century, but today we prefer to use a flared glass with a tight neck allowing for both the aeration of the wine and the concentration of the aromas. The serving temperature of Champagne must evolve. It is not recommended to use an ice bucket – unless you are in a particularly hot climate. The posture or the way you position yourself in relation to the Champagne you are serving is also important. Respect for those who did elaborate it, and for the terroir where it comes from…, everything is important to introduce a wine. Is it necessary to have a good reason to open a bottle of Champagne ? Champagne does not need to be served with a specific dish, even if some harmonious pairings can certainly magnify the wine !
The first bad habits to give up when tasting wines are preconceived notions. When we speak specifically of Champagne, one detail that irks me is the fact that the bottle is not always respected; it can be poorly opened – or poured in advance at a cocktail party so that the guests do not know what they are drinking. Also, a key point is to recognise that the experience of tasting begins long before the tasting itself, starting with awareness of one’s own condition. Am I tired? What did I drink and eat right before? What am I looking for in this tasting ? In short, you have to take your own pleasure seriously !
A quoi ressemble la Champagne dont vous rêvez ?
I dream of a Champagne region which moves forward again collectively, and of sharing to aim for excellence. I dream of a Champagne that makes an impression on people because of its honesty to look Nature in the face as she is really shaken by climate change. I dream of a Champagne that takes advantage of the revolution of new technologies to reinvent itself to the benefit of nature, science, research, and collaboration. I dream of a Champagne with shared leaderships between men and women.
The Champagne I dream of is on the move, and at the cutting edge of viticultural innovations. Each of the players, from the smallest one to the largest one, is very aware of the ecosystem of this appellation, one that is both precious and fragile, between growers, houses, small, medium and large. It creates a bond, a sense of pride, a desire to get involved, to stay there for the generations to come… Champagne is both desirable and accessible !
Champagne is the happiest way to taste good wines! I dream of seeing the wines of Champagne also becoming a source of experiences, of being able to taste them in both gastronomic moments as well as simpler moments of conviviality and sharing. I dream of seeing Champagne leaving behind “celebration” as its sole raison d’être and striving instead to make ANY moment a great moment!
We are evolving towards a Champagne that looks like us: simpler, more authentic and less conventional in its communication. The stories of the men and women who elaborate these bottles have to be revealed in order to strengthen even more the emotion aroused by tasting Champagne.