Cyril Brun - Winemaker Series:
Cyril Brun joined the Champagne House of Charles Heidsieck as ‘chef de cave’ on the 25th of May 2015. He has been working alongside Régis Camus, with his support and with guidance from the director of the house Stephen Leroux.
Previously Cyril worked at Veuve Clicquot for 15 years, where he was a senior red winemaker, looking after their Pinot Noir development and customer communications. Cyril was born in the small town of Aÿ, located just over 4km’s north-east of Epernay. And coming from a family with a lengthy history as: Champagne growers, négociants and wine barrel-makers, and with his own background in oenology. Both Cyril’s father and grandfather were winemakers in the Champagne region.
And it was while he was growing up, that he became fascinated and observed them enjoying their work. He felt that they were connected with nature, their surrounds and with the vineyards, along with having a job with a lot of variety.
By the time Cyril was a teenager he was fully convinced that he wanted to follow in their footsteps. Prior to Cyril finally entering into the wine industry, this came after a short period of sales and exports and then he studied business and oenology in Reims. If you talk with Cyril about his own children and their possible future career - with a subtle sparkle in his eye, Cyril also hopes one day his sons might also follow - but no pressure.
It was after the sudden death of Thierry Roset back in October 2014, that the position became available and Cyril was invited to join the team as ‘chef de cave’. With his expertise and passion, Cyril is committed to continue the exceptional work carried out by his predecessors.
When you discuss winemaking and the harvest - Cyril speaks about these and about each New Year with the fresh enthusiasm of a child. “You feel like you are constantly a student because each year is different. Each year is always exciting”.
Cyril is in charge of many different aspects - starting with selecting the best possible components for the blends and then several years later, sharing their story and describing the personality of these wines. Cyril feels that the magic is to find out how to capture the essence of each of the 3 varietals, grown and sourced from unique plots of land and to make sure that all of these components being blended will work together to recreate the perfect signature of our style. Cyril and his team can use up to 60 different crus (villages) from the entire champagne region. At the end of the day, they use the diversity of the region to bring together and maximize the individuality of anywhere from 2 to 300 hundred different parcels. This process of creating harmony requires precision, experience and intuition.
In June 2019, I had the pleasure to catch-up with Cyril the day after he had just received the award for the IWC Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 2019 *(trophy photo below) - it was also our mutual 50th Birthday celebration, so we had an extra special reason to enjoy the day.
The following is some background, influences, thoughts and insights, since his arrival on becoming ‘chef de cave’ at Charles Heidsieck - here are some of his brief comments.
• What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
"There were many examples I had in my family from my father, grandfather, and also my great grandfather….they were all involved in different aspects of the industry from viticulture to winemaking..."
• When and where did you study winemaking?
"I studied and graduated from the ‘Faculty of Sciences’ here in Reims in the late 1990’s..."
• Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
"I learnt a lot from Jacques Peters and Dominique Demarville with whom I worked during my 15 years at Veuve Clicquot."
• What is your favourite grape varietal(s) to work with and why?
"I like working with Pinot Noir a lot. It can be very versatile: from a light, crisp white wine, right up to a fleshy and opulent red wine."
• Since your first vintage what is the biggest advancement you have seen in making quality Champagne and why?
"The monitoring of grape maturation (being able to select the perfect picking date) - this has made tremendous improvements in the last two decades."
• With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
"There are a few things..., but I first think about the expression of the ‘terroir’ of each unique vineyard.... - this more than any other thing."
• To date what has been your most interesting / challenging vintage and why?
"Cyril says - ‘the next one’. Every vintage you complete is an opportunity to upgrade your expectations for the next ones to come. With climate change, this will bring an occasion to reinvent ourselves..."
• Which person ‘past’ or ‘present’ would you most like to meet and why?
"This would have to be Leonardo da Vinci: he was a pioneer, a visionary and a great artist..."
• For your next birthday dinner - if you could open and enjoy any bottle of wine in the world ever-made - what would it be and why?
"He replies with a smile: Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage ‘La Chapelle’ 1961 vintage, I had the pleasure to taste only once some years ago…it made an impression..."
• If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
"Very likely it would be in Italy, in Piedmont to be precise...: I love this part of the country, the food, the art of living, and the people..."
• What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
"I would advise them to have - humility and patience."
• When you are ‘not’ making wine - what is one of your favourite things to do to relax?
With another smile - "I like to listen to Jazz music (for example: ‘Kind of Blue’ from Miles Davis) while cooking or driving my convertible car through the vineyards of Champagne…"
• In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your Champagnes, vineyard or winery?
"There are a few projects that we are currently developing / working on... - but 'Champagne Charlie' has been such an iconic champagne despite being discontinued since 1985.... it would be great to bring it back..."
Where can you find Charles Heidsieck Champagne:
Charles Heidsieck Champagne 'known by those in the know' are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers, restaurants / wine bars and hotels. Or visit the Charles Heidsieck website - CLICK HERE.