Nicolas Feuillatte, the man who gave his name to what would become the biggest selling Champagne brand in France, has died at the age of 88.

Feuillatte was born in Paris in 1926 and moved to the US where, by predicting the US demand for instant coffee, he soon became the largest importer of African coffee to the country. During this time, he became friendly with some of the most well-known celebrities of the day including his golf partners, the Kennedy’s and Aristotle Onassis.

Nicolas Feuillatte was held in such high regard by the Ivory Coast, one of Africa’s largest coffee producers, that he was appointed their Permanent Delegate to the United Nations in 1962.

At the age of 50 he decided to return to France permanently and took over his family’s 12 hectare estate in the Ardre Valley near Reims. Feuillatte immediately started to produce his eponymously named Champagne and due to his famous friends and business associate its popularity grew in the US  to the point that demand quickly outstripped supply. The two celebrities credited with assisting the Champagne’s meteoric rise were Jacqueline Onassis and the actress Lauren Bacall.

In 1986 Nicolas Feuillatte decided to sell the brand to the Cenre Vinicole de Champagne (CVC) run by Henri Macquart. Under Marquart’s presidency the CVC has grown to become the largest Champagne cooperative with 5,000 growers and 2,200 hectres under vine. Almost 10% of the Champagne produced for CVC is marketed under the Nicolas Feuillatte brand which encompasses entry level Champagnes up to their prestige cuvees, Palmes d’Or and Palmes d’Or Rosé. Last year, Nicolas Feuillatte Champagnes were the third highest selling in the world behind Moet and Veuve  Clicquot with sales of over ten million bottles.

In recent years, Nicolas Feuillatte was a tireless ambassador for the brand, bringing the joie de vivre that marked his early business career and social life to today’s global powerhouse that he will forever be associated with.