This year, Bernard-Massard is celebrating its centenary. These old photographs presented by its CEO, Antoine Clasen provide a window into the company’s past, which although firmly rooted in Grevenmacher, is also characterised by a strong focus on Belgium.
Can there be a more frustrating time for a centenary? Although Antoine Clasen would have preferred to celebrate this landmark anniversary in style, he is a pragmatist and has therefore taken this involuntary change of plans in his stride. “We decided not to organise any major events in 2021 and I doubt our guests will hold it against us if we postpone everything to next year,” he says. He has decided that things are precarious enough at the moment without adding any more uncertainty, which is no doubt a very wise move.
However, the Grevenmacher firm has not shelved all its plans, as a new Crémant de Luxembourg celebrating the company’s founding date has just been released. This “1921” cuvée blending Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and a hint of Pinot Gris joins a crémant range that already includes vintage Bernard-Massard, Thill’s and the Clos des Rochers crémants (brut, rosé, vintage and Cuvée Frédéric Clasen).
The intention is for production of this commemorative fizz to continue after the centenary. “In 1971, we set up our flagship Cuvée de l’Écusson brand to celebrate Bernard-Massard’s fiftieth anniversary. This proved such a good idea that we have decided to take the same approach with this 1921,” smiles Antoine Clasen.
Another very high-end special cuvée is due to be released over the course of the year, this time as a limited series (barely 3,000 bottles). This Champagne-style blend of Chardonnay/Pinot Noir with the base wines fully matured in large wooden foudres holds great promise!
The release of this symbolic brand representing a landmark in the already long history of Bernard-Massard, a company set up in the aftermath of the First World War, provides the perfect excuse to go rummaging in the company’s extensive photographic archives. This immersion in a sepia past proves just how clear and ambitious the entrepreneurial vision set out by the estate’s founders (oenologist Jean Bernard and investors Bernard and Frédéric Clasen) was. From the outset, the plan was to aim high and export to Belgium. This strategy dictated by the geopolitics of the day paved the way to an international reputation that no previous Luxembourg producer had ever enjoyed.