In the wine industry, the weight of the bottle makes up the majority of its carbon footprint – ranging from 50% to 68% when transportation of the bottle is included in the calculation. But when it comes to champagne, it is important to have a heavier bottle to withstand the bubble pressure within, which is roughly 2 to 3 times the pressure inside a car tire. However, over time the weight of Champagne bottles has increased along with unnecessary customizations.
But Champagne Telmont is challenging the assumption that sparkling wine bottles need to be so heavy, by taking a leadership role in researching methods to reduce bottle weight while still maintaining safety and wine quality. Now it appears that they have been successful, because they have just announced the test results for 3000 bottles in partnership with French glassmaker, Verallia.
“We have been working very hard on the subject, in close partnership with French glassmaker Verallia,” reported Ludovic du Plessis, CEO of Maison Telmont, in an online interview this month. “The testing phase, which included using these bottles through the whole production process and for transportation, was successfully concluded in March 2023.”
Around 4% Less CO2 Per Bottle Produced for Telmont
Glassmaker Verallia actually started research on safely reducing champagne bottle weight ten years ago, and were able to safely reduce the weight from 900 grams (2 pounds) to 835 grams (1.8 pounds). But working in partnership with Telmont, they were able to trim an additional 35 grams (1.23 ounces or .07 pounds) from Telmont’s bottle, to achieve a bottle weight of 800 grams – making it the lightest Champagne bottle in the world to date.
Though 35 grams may not seem that significant, the lighter bottles generate 4% less CO2 emissions per bottle to produce, and the reduction will be even more significant when transportation is calculated in.
“Our objective is to become, as of 2030, the first Climate Positive Champagne house, and to be Net Positive by 2050, which means a reduction of our carbon footprint by at least 90%. It is a gigantic and exciting project!” stated du Plessis.
Telmont Adopts Organic Farming, Recycled Glass, and No Unnecessary Gift Boxes
In addition to lighter champagne bottles, Telmont has adopted other environmental practices which will further reduce their carbon foot print. These include becoming 100% organic in the vineyard – which is challenging in the cooler damp climate of Champagne, as well as using recycled glass in their bottles.
“We stopped using transparent bottles, which contain 0% recycled glass. Instead, we only use green glass, which contains 87% recycled glass,” explained du Plessis.
However, they also decided to stop using fancy gift boxes and other packaging that many Champagne Houses use to entice consumers. This is a rather controversial move, because there may be some consumers who appreciate the extra extravagance of a fancy gift box when they purchase Champagne.
But du Plessis argues to the contrary. “We have banned giftboxes altogether since June 2021. The best packaging is no packaging. We are winegrowers: we make champagne, not giftboxes. And everything we do, we do with this belief: ‘the wine is good if the earth is beautiful.’”
Apparently this stance is also respected in celebrity circles, because movie star, Leonardo DiCaprio, became a minority investor in Champagne Telmont last year, citing their sustainability efforts as part of the reason for this move.
“Champagne Telmont is determined to radically lower its environmental footprint, making me proud to join as an investor” said Leonardo DiCaprio, in an Instagram post.
Du Plessis, who has known DiCaprio for over 15 years, states: “Leonardo follows with deep interest all the initiatives we take to change the way we produce champagne. Like all of our team in Damery, he is very enthusiastic about what we are doing to reduce the weight of the bottles and all the other actions that we have initiated. He came to Damery to see everything we do and to talk to the team. And he will return.”
The Taste of Champagne Telmont
So what does Champagne Telmont taste like? Though the cuvee in the new 800 gram light-weight bottle was just bottled and will not be available to consumers until 2026 (it must age for 3 years before release), the Telmont Brut Reserve in the 835 gram bottle is available in the U.S. market at fine wineshops and online.
With an average price point of $68 per bottle, the Telmont Brut Reserve is made from all three Champagne grapes (43% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir) and has a light elegant style, but with some savory and mineral notes. The nose offers fresh peach, floral and lemon, which carries through on the palate with added hints of mushroom, spice and citrus, and is very refreshing. The most recent offering was awarded 91 points by Decanter.
The front label of each bottle of Telmont Brut Reserve also explains how the wine was made, and provides their sustainability philosophy, beginning with: ‘In the name of Mother Nature.’
In the meantime, du Plessis looks forward to the day that the 800 gram bottle of their certified organic cuvée Telmont Réserve de la Terre will be released, and hopes that other Champagne Houses will follow suit and adopt lighter bottles to help protect the environment.
“We receive a lot of encouragement from other champagne houses. Protecting the environment is not about competition, it needs to be done in cooperation. We all share the same planet,” concluded du Plessis.