Thursday, June 26, 2008

Alternative Energy? In Champagne?!

Champagne isn’t the most eco-friendly wine region in the world. It’s getting better, admittedly, and care of the environment is one of the most talked-about issues in the region right now. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

At Champagne Paul Déthune this afternoon, I was pleasantly shocked when Pierre Déthune showed me his 54 square meters of solar panels, which he installed in 2004. I’ve never heard of any other champagne producer using solar energy, and I often wonder, why don’t we all have panels on our roofs? Okay, the cynics among you might point out that the Champagne region is sorely lacking in sunshine. Yet Déthune says that his system currently provides for 20 percent of the estate’s electricity, and he’s currently planning an additional purchase of solar panels that will double that output.

In addition, he has installed a rainwater collection system that provides for 20 percent of his water needs. It’s not used for anything requiring potable water, but it’s useful for tasks such as washing tractors and cleaning equipment. And for all you cynics, Champagne certainly gets plenty of rain, so it's great to see somebody putting it to use.

Déthune’s wines, by the way, are fantastic — I tasted the complete lineup today and was consistently impressed, from the entry-level brut all the way up to the Cuvée à l’Ancienne. This is definitely an estate to keep your eye on.


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