The wines from the Champagne house of Boizel are recognised for their delicacy and finesse of touch. The house was established in 1834, with deep roots in the Champagne region that date back centuries.
It is an odd and often unremarked fact that, while the wine world has long been very much a male preserve, one region has stood apart. The history of Champagne has been largely built by a number of highly dynamic women, including a number of illustrious widows. Unlike those formidable ladies, Evelyne Roques-Boizel, who with her husband Christophe Roques-Boizel now runs the family Champagne house of Boizel, was not married to the owner of a Champagne house. She was the daughter of Rene Boizel, whose family had been involved in grape growing and winemaking around the villages of Ay and Avize for centuries.
The company her father ran was originally founded in 1834 by Auguste Boizel and, as a child, Evelyne was reminded of its history by the array of old bottles that were lovingly stored in the deep underground chalk cellars of the winery on Epernay’s prestigious Avenue de Champagne.
Even today, the Boizel collection is the most impressive of its kind in the region and still includes 11 bottles of 180-yearold Champagne from 1834, the year the House first opened its doors for business. Despite her immersion in the world of wine, and a childhood that included helping with the tasks in the vineyards and cellars and relishing the aromas of the fermenting juice, Evelyne Boizel’s first instincts were to follow a quite different professional career. At university in nearby Reims, she studied history and archeology before moving to Paris to take a course in museum curation.
While in the capital, she met and fell in love with Christophe Roques, the son of an academic family in Clermont-Ferrand in the heart of France, who had recently earned a first class engineering degree. Within a year of their marriage, however, the Roques-Boizels’ lives took an unexpected turn when the death of Rene Boizel and the serious illness of Evelyne’s brother Eric left the business without anyone at its head.
Returning to Epernay, the couple had to learn every facet of producing and selling Champagne. Fortunately, for their first year, they had a skilled teacher at hand in the shape of Marcel Carré, who had been the head cellarmaster for over 50 years.
From the outset, Evelyne and Christophe Roques-Boizel divided the essential tasks involved in running the business. As general manager, Christophe is in charge of sourcing the best grapes – which come from as many as 50 of the most prestigious villages (essentially Grand and Premier Crus) – signing long term contracts with growers, and managing every aspect of production, bottling and shipping. Evelyne, for her part, is company president, enthusiastically representing the company in France and overseas and building sales to the best restaurants around the world, along with setting up a dynamic direct marketing business in France.
All the Boizel Champagnes spend at least 36 months on their lees and only the purest juice from the first pressing is used in the blends. Finesse and balance are key to the delicate Boizel style. The Blanc de Blancs is well known for its fresh zestiness, while the rosés are often praised for their fullness of flavour. In his book, Hugh Johnson once described the Boizel Champagnes as one of Champagne’s surest values and the Blanc de Blancs as brilliantly aged.
The jewel in the Boizel range is the well named Joyau de France, created by René Boizel in 1961, a legendary vintage. It is only produced in the years with great ageing potential and always released after a minimum of 10 years ageing on lees. The composition is around 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, depending on the vintage.
Today, a sixth generation of the family is now involved in the winery. Lionel Roques-Boizel manages the French market, while Florent Roques-Boizel represents the House overseas. As Evelyne Roques-Boizel says, “We are proud to have always put the quality of the Champagnes first in all decisions… We are very proud of the continuity in the family involvement to produce the best Champagnes. Boizel is one of the rare family house where the owners are responsible for the blending and winemaking of all the range”. As a true Champenoise, Evelyne Roques-Boizel is not only an ambassador for her wines, but also for the whole Champagne region. There is no question that she is a very worthy follower in the honorable line of great ladies of Champagne.