Essi Avellan and the future of sparkling wines around the world

Our interview with one of the greatest experts of Champagne and sparkling wine: «Sustainability must be a priority in the next few years»

13-11-2020
Essi Avellan in a photo from Michaël Boudot

Essi Avellan in a photo from Michaël Boudot

Essi Avellan is the first Master of Wine from Finland. A connoisseur of bubbles from all around the world and one of the top experts of Champagne. She's the author of a bible for Champagne lovers, already printed four times. Thanks to her talent she is one of the most acclaimed women in this industry. As a wine judge, she's called all around the world. We met her virtually thanks to a common friend, Camilla Lunelli of Cantine Ferrari.

How did you get your passion for bubbles and for Champagne?
Actually, it happened very early. When I was young, I started working in the wine industry, and I've always had an endless love for Champagne, and for all sparkling wines. Today, after 22 years in this industry, I can say I have chosen the best road for my dreams and I'm happy with what I do. I feel my work is almost a mission. I want to communicate to my readers what's behind a label, giving value to the terroir from which those bubbles come from, as well as to the huge work that all the great producers express. I'm never tired of drinking bubbles.

Has the current pandemic changed your work?
Yes, indeed. Early in March I was at home, in Finland, in Helsinki. I had to cancel my entire calendar. In my country there was no lockdown. I could lead a less restrictive life than you in Italy. We could go out freely, as the situation, though serious, was not perceived as strong. Today the vision is once again complex: I must continue to organise my work in a more digital way. 

How do you organise your daily work?
It's mostly online. I regularly attend tastings and live webinars on Instagram. I have learnt to appreciate this new condition, because it will last much longer and, perhaps, it will remain as a parallel track even when we'll once again be able to travel. I curate many launches of new products in synergy with wineries. Truth be said, I'm always very busy.

How do you see the future of bubbles?
There's a growing interest in sparkling wines, even with many producers from the New World, and this is significant. For sure Italy is, for me, the most dynamic country in the world, among sparkling wine producers. With a phenomenal development of denominations: from Trentodoc to Alta Langa, from Franciacorta to the boom of Prosecco

What do you think of the Champagne region now?
Champagne is a region that is undergoing a historic change in terms of sustainability. Greater attention to terroir with its expressions, sustainable packaging and a new approach to details that don't change the authoritativeness of Champagnes, but make the work of the Maisons more ethical. 

Bollicine del Mondo [Bubbles from the world] is a project that has Identità Golose in the frontline so that people discover many sparkling producers from all around the planet. How do you see the current state of this industry? 
Today the world of sparkling wines is suffering greatly. The sales were affected by many restrictions and people don't feel like celebrating. I believe, in fact I hope, that this is only temporary. I hope we will soon be able to meet. The time of inactivity for the producers of bubbles all around the world was precious. They had more time to listen to their teams at work in the vineyard and in the cellar. Nature didn't stop and they made use of the time to think of the future. We cannot stop. Not now. I'll repeat myself: sustainability is the key on which to focus resources and ideas for the future. Making bottles lighter, reducing packaging with a less polluting transformation, transforming the luxurious coffrets of Champagne into more sustainable boxes. Ruinart did so with a revolutionary packaging. I believe this is the road to take for the future. 


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