Champagne is often associated with decadence, special occasions, or prestige. Current fads such as vegan or organic winery prove that there is more to the queen of beverages than garnishing oysters or celebrating New Year’s Eve. Yet, the market is dominated by well-known brands of large industrial groups that offer products originated from pesticide-contaminated cultivations. The Cologne founded champagne brand en vie d'éphémère gives a contemporary answer to industrially produced champagne: a sustainably produced and eco-certified sparkling wine that celebrates the traditional product without any chichi.
© Jesse Belleque
The rules to produce champagne are binding, but there are differences when it comes to conventional and organic cultivation and production. At en vie d'éphémère, a sustainable cultivation and respect for nature are obligatory. Organic winery has become more and more popular in the region of Champagne, which has been part of the UNESCO world heritage site since 2015. Since 2011, en vie d’éphémère deliberately refrains from using pesticides during cultivation to keep the vineyard alive, protect the natural ecosystem and promote biodiversity. This leads to a healthy, stable ecosystem in the long term and makes the vines more resistant to challenges such as pests and fungal attack. But organic viticulture also means more work compared to conventional manufacturing. In order to dispense chemical agents for the production, more manual work has to be done: For example, mold growth in the vines conventionally is being fought with chemical fungicides. The sustainable alternative is to defoliate the vines early in order to better ventilate them and to avoid the accumulation of moisture. Another sustainable approach en vie d'éphémère follows is the mineral filtration. Before the clarification, the still wine, which is later turned into champagne through a second fermentation process, is cloudy. To clarify, ergo filtrate, the champagne, conventional processes use animal proteins, gelatin or fish bladder to ensure that the turbid substances bind and settle on the bottom. The clear champagne is now being skimmed off and a second fermentation starts the bubbling process. Vegan filtration alternatives range from vegetable protein, such as wheat or peas, to mineral earth or activated charcoal. At the Cologne based champagne brand, they use mineral earth and cellulose – an expensive alternative, but free from animal additives; in 2020, en vie d'éphémère won the Vegan Food Award for Best Champagne from PETA Germany.
The wine is being cultured from the particularly chalky and calcareous soils of the French wine-growing region of Champagne. A “vigneron independent”, an independent winemaker, in the eighth generation does everything itself – from cultivation to labeling. On seven hectares of vineyards, vintner Yves and his five employees ensure the highest quality with individual care. The result: cuvée début – the first champagne variety, exclusively produced for en vie d’éphémère.
Founder Linda Barbosa Fortes is a career changer: like many others she used to associate champagne with clichés with which she could not identify; but one of them finally brought her close to it: In her previous job as an artist manager, she enjoyed champagne-loving after-show parties and events. In a secondary employment, Linda Barbosa Fortes gained professional know-how that quickly inspired her and at the same time made her think about why champagne is mostly associated with oysters, prestige and status. Therefore, she came up with the idea of founding a contemporary and approachable brand, far from clichés as a sustainable response to the industrial brands that dominate the market. With knowledge and exciting facts about the traditional product, she quickly aroused interest, turned her back on the media industry and devoted herself to en vie d'éphémère. Today, she is a certified wine culture expert for champagne. In 2019, together with a French winemaker, Linda Barbosa Fortes developed the first variety of en vie d’éphémère, cuvée début, which has already convinced one or the other champagne refuser with its intense aromas from natural soils. The queen of beverages paired with a casual and unconventional lifestyle.
– by Marie Klimczak