Antoine Roland-Billecart is the Head of Billecart-Salmon, one of the oldest champagne houses in the world that is still family owned. He runs the business with his brother, François Roland-Billecart, both of whom represent the sixth generation of the family.
He is also the Commandeur of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne (OCC), the most ancient champagne association in the world. Indonesia Tatler recently got the chance to sit with Antoine before the inaugural Grand Chapitre of OCC Jakarta Consulate, which was recently established.
Could you tell us a bit about OCC and your role in it?
The OCC was founded in 1656 and remains as the only official fraternity of the major champagne brands. Its mission is to promote the variety, versatility, taste and other unique characteristics of champagne wines. The OCC organises Chapters, tastings and other activities, and it is a very exclusive club: we are very selective and the membership is by invitation only.
As for me, I was appointed as the Commandeur of OCC in March 2015. We have around 4,000 members worldwide and the Jakarta Consulate is the most recent to be established. Today, we are hosting our very first Grand Chapitre in the Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta, which is organized by my dear friend Eva Iskandar as the Consul in Jakarta.
We hope that we can host more events like this in the future, because Indonesia is a very promising country for champagne lovers and connoisseurs.
Speaking of your brand, Billecart-Salmon has been around since 1818 and is now run by the sixth generation of the family. What is the key to making a business everlasting?
Until today, Billecart-Salmon remains independent, family owned and family managed. It is very rare for a champagne house to stay that way—it is special and quite unique. For me, the key is to reinvest all your benefits in the company and not to get paid too much out of it so you can give maximum contribution to the company. We always ensure our brand’s originality, freshness, elegance and produce a very specific, precise style of champagne.
What are the challenges of running this business?
Currently, the real challenge is to be consistent, to keep a good position in the market and to remain among the top five champagne brands worldwide. Today, we produce 2.5 million bottles per year and we do not intend to increase that number. Instead, we want to maintain quality not quantity, with the best wine selection, and to source the best fruit.
Champagne amounts to a very small proportion of sparkling wine production in the world. We do not even represent 3 per cent of production volume, but we represent more than 30 per cent of the value. For me, that is a huge difference.
What is the signature champagne by Billecart-Salmon?
Our signature champagne is “Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon” Brut Rosé. We started to produce Rosé in 1954 and up to now, Billecart-Salmon is still regarded as one of the best producers of Rosé.
Text by: Anastasia Wibowo