Régis Camus – “I’m the ambassador of the Sauska traditional method sparkling wines”
We visited the Sauska winery in Budafok for the first time last November. It took us barely a 20-minute drive from our Lánchíd wine shop to get there.
The ridge that connects Budafok with Gellért Hill is made up of freshwater limestone, with a 50-kilometer cellar system inside it, and in the last few years the best branches have once again filled up with life and uniquely shaped Sauska bottles. The base wines blended in Tokaj arrive here, which are then bottled, fermented, aged and disgorged by the local team. And the person who oversees it all from the harvest to the dinner table is Regis Camus, the advisor to the Sauska team, who has experience of nearly 50 vintages spent in Champagne. We spoke to the renowned and suggestive champagne master in May, and we voted the Brut Magnum as the most memorable traditional method sparkling wine of the day.
Régis went to university in Reims, where he soon switched from food science to winemaking. His career started in the mid-70s and owing to his organizational and diplomatic skills, he managed the association of winemakers in the Champagne region for several years. It was here where the legendary Daniel Thibault noticed him and invited him to work together. It wasn’t a small task: repositioning and rebranding the once big-name houses of Piper Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck. He began building with the exact recording of the varieties and parcels and then collecting the reserve wine stock of the houses with obsessive precision. From 2002 he became the cellar master of Heidsieck, while he also managed to define the style of the two houses validly and characteristically up to this day. Both brands are stars, with a reserved place on the Top 25 most significant of all Champagne houses.
Régis Camus, currently the ambassador for Heidsieck’s luxury brand Rare, retired in 2018, but luckily his search for professional adventure wouldn’t let him rest: his new premium sake, Heavensake, is gaining success all around the world. His only traditional method wine project connects him to Tokaj: his goal is to refine the style of Sauska sparkling wines and the continuous training of the winemaking team.
How did it start?
It was Pierre Casenave, the winemaker of Veuve Clicquot, who first told to me about Krisztián Sauska. He told me that he is a person with big plans, great expectations and that he wanted to work with me. Shortly afterwards, we first met in Paris, at my favourite restaurant. From the beginning, the chemistry worked between us, we taste similarly, and I quickly accepted his offer. Since then, I have been an ambassador for the Sauska traditional method sparkling wines worldwide.
What gives the style of a Champagne house?
At every champagne house, the strong base is given by the non-vintage champagnes. These need to be unmistakable, stylish and consistent, because these are what people are primarily attached to.
How does this appear in the Sauska traditional method sparkling wines?
The essence of the non-vintage Sauska sparkling wines is their floral, fruity freshness on the nose, which is unquestionably my preference, and the minerality and length of the palate that is undoubtedly Tokaj’s trademark. This style stabilizes within two to three years while it’s constantly refining itself.
What is your work together about?
I came with a Champagne experience, but now I’m interested in helping to shape the style of a brand that is faithful to its terroir and proud of its Tokaj identity. I already learnt that I can trust Furmint. It was a massive surprise for me, and it still has a lot of excitement and depth in it.
Video: the way the Sauska traditional method sparkling wine is made in collaboration with Régis Camus.