Fueled by a similar passion and belief, Tawnya Falkner gave up her career in architecture and real estate development in San Francisco and moved to Burgundy. Armed with her vision to create an affordable every day luxury that personifies the French spirit of the joie de vivre and celebrates life’s simple pleasures, she took a different approach to the industry based on the opportunity she envisioned.
Falkner’s vision led to the production of Le Grand Courtâge French Sparkling Wines. Produced in Nuits St. Georges, Burgundy and sourced from multiple French wine regions, these vegan-friendly bubbles were designed to be dry, crisp, light wines with baby bubbles and a lovely fruit-finish to create very balanced flavors. By capitalizing on the versatility of sparkling wines, this independent female-owned and managed company successfully developed these award-winning French wines that are among the top selling French sparkling wine brands in the Premium category. Chilled spoke with Falkner about the popularity of sparkling wine and Le Grand Courtâge. She also shares details about The Le Grand Courtâge Live Joyously Sparkling Cocktail Competition, where bartenders can win cash prizes!
What inspired the name and approach for your wines?
Le Grand Courtâge (the Great Courtship) signifies the courtship between French and American wine culture, grapes from different regions and the old and new world styles. There was intentionality in my approach based up on what I felt was needed in the marketplace given that some 70% of brands are bought on packaging alone and American’s have a lighter/sweeter palate. Many bubbly and rosé consumers are female, and women control more than 80% of spends in the United States for all goods. I set out to re-imagine a rather antiquated category and create brands which are both timeless, yet modern.
Why do you think sparkling wine is so popular in bars now?
The pop of the cork is the universal sound of happy and it elicits a smile. I believe one of the positives of the pandemic is that it helped people to see the importance of elevating and celebrating every day and not taking things for granted. I also think the combination of the effervescence and acidity are enormously pairable for cuisine and cocktails as bubbles both awaken and cleanse the palate (a.k.a. the scrubbing bubbles for the palate) and people realize the versatility of sparkling wines from brunch to dessert. Consumers are starting to infuse bubbles into regular weeknight dinners since they can transition through a meal and pair with a wide array of foods. We’re seeing a shift away from the cheap swill previously used in cocktails and mimosas. With craft spirits and elevated ingredients, finally bubbles are getting their due.
What interesting things are being done with Le Grand Courtâge Sparkling Wines?
We are seeing far more elevated brunch (goodbye bottomless) drinks like spritzy sips (Aperol alternatives), sparkling Sangrias, sparkling cocktails featuring a range of spirits from the expected like gin and vodka to mezcal, bourbon and everything in between.
What are some things bartenders should know about mixing with Le Grand Courtâge?
These wines are not as light and sweet as prosecco, nor as dry and yeasty as a champagne. A perfect mid-range palate without a heavy yeasty/brioche finish and a nice acidity balances out flavor profiles and helps soften heavier spirits. The 187ml are our “faux” top and since they are screwcap, it allows for an easy open/close when only 1-2 oz are needed.
These wines offer an approachable, affordable, versatile, accompaniment that is very cuisine and cocktail friendly.
In our Bartenders Guide to Wine, we cover the by the glass (BTG) evolution of wine. What are your thoughts on that?
Americans like variety and choice. BTG is about exploration and discovery and awakening the palate to new things and experiences. Wine is like a vacation – it transports you to a place and is a state of mind. The way wine is consumed has changed. Customers prefer quality over quantity and want to be able to match wine with food, discover new wines and terroirs without fear of judgment. They also want to control consumption and budget. In other words, consumers drink less but better.
What kind of wines are needed to make up a good BTG menu in bars?
A more robust by the glass (inc more bubbles) offering beyond the usual suspects of Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, etc. Also, a range from value to expensive and a wide variety of wines and grapes to educate and bring people along on their wine journey.
Chilled Media Presents The Le Grand Courtâge Live Joyously Sparkling Cocktail Competiton.
Bartenders—Interested in getting in on the sparkling wine trend and winning CASH PRIZES? Create a sparkling cocktail that embodies the French spirit of Joie de Vivre and living joyously, and you can win cash. Elevate the everyday, enter here.