Located on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, visitors to Boizel can tour their cellars, new winery, Trésor (containing vintages going back to 1834, 1870 and 1893), and enjoy a tasting at the Visitors’ Centre.
Champagne Boizel was founded in 1834 by Auguste Boizel and Julie Martin who married in 1831. The bride was a descendant of a long line of winegrowers from Aÿ going back to the 16th Century. Unusual for the time, when the couple founded their business, it was named Champagne Boizel-Martin, a tribute of the husband’s love, regard and respect for his wife’s individuality, personality and contribution to the enterprise.
Since that time, Maison Boizel has passed generation to generation in a direct line from father or mother to son or daughter. Evelyne Roques-Boizel led her great, great grandparents’ beloved Champagne house for more than 40 years. In that time, she brought renewed vitality and respect for the wines that emerge from their underground cellar in Epernay.
Under Evelyne Roques-Boizel’s watch, the Champagne house added Joyau de Chardonnay (1989 being the first vintage) and Joyau de France Rosé (2000 being the inaugural vintage). These were inspired by the original Joyau de France, first created in 1961 by her father. Rene Boizel, a top class rower, was Junior Champion of France in 1931. Later, he won the Coupe de Paris in the skiff category and toured Europe with craft tied to the roof of his car. What a sight!
Evelyne Roques-Boizel studied history and archaeology at Reims University and museum curation in Paris. She retired two years ago as head of the Champagne house started by her great, great grandparents.
Florent Roques-Boizel had worked with a wine importer in New Zealand and Maison Chapoutier in the Rhone Valley.
With such dazzling sporting pedigree, Rene Boizel charmed his potential clients. Some of the most prestigious addresses in Paris happily added Champagne Boizel to their lists, including Ledoyen, Potel & Chabot, le Café de Paris, Hotel Scribe and George V. Rene and his Dutch wife Erica also grew sales in Belgium, the Netherlands and West Germany. In 1950, Hollywood and the jet-set embraced Boizel. Alfred Hitchcock was often sipping the bubbly. Prince Ali Khan ordered Boizel Rosé by the dozens of cases. The prince’s wife Rita Hayworth was also a fan.
In another life, Evelyne Roques-Boizel would not be based in Epernay. She would probably be somewhere else in France researching exhibits or running a museum. At Reims University, she had studied history and archaeology. After that, Roques-Boizel went to Paris to take up a course in museum curation. In the French capital, she met and fell in love with Christophe Roques who came from an academic family in Clermont-Ferrand and who had then recently earned a first-class degree in engineering. The couple tied the knot. Within a year of their marriage, their lives took a dramatic turn in 1972.
The inner sanctum of Champagne Boizel is their Trésor. Here are the family heirlooms, vintages travelling back into the 19th Century, including 11 bottles of 1834, the first vintage by Auguste Boizel and Julie Martin.
First, Rene Boizel, Evelyne’s father died. Then, her brother Eric, who was meant to have entered the family business, succumbed to a serious illness. As had happened before in Champagne, Evelyne’s widowed mother Erica found herself assuming the reins of the family business. Her courage and determination were unflagging. Her daughter and son-in-law Christophe Roques also answered the call to duty. The newlyweds returned to Champagne and trained themselves in the business.
Erica, Evelyne and Christophe were very fortunate to have the devotion and invaluable expertise of Cellarmaster Marcel Carre whose experience dated to as far back as 1955. Carre worked 51 years at the house until his retirement in 1973. Together, family and cellarmaster kept the business going and the Boizel bubbles flying. In 1984, Champagne Boizel marked its 150th anniversary.