A Galveston native now calling Houston home, Matthew Massey took a circuitous route to becoming the founder of Madame Zéro, a newly arrived fine champagne that earned kudos and awards at the 2022 Rodeo Uncorked! international wine competition and is served in more than a score of the Bayou City’s most popular restaurants.
From waiting tables as a teen in Galveston restaurants to a profitable career in the energy sector that meant international travel, Massey developed a keen interest in food and wine. After accompanying a friend, who was studying for his Master Sommelier exam, across the vineyards of France, the entrepreneur-minded oenophile decided that he wanted into the business of crafting champagne but with a twist.
So it was a decade ago that he began thoroughly educating himself on the process and ultimately crafting his personal label with certain departures from tradition.
Massey explains that he is as passionate about health and fitness as he is about his delve into the rarified world of champagne. Thus his unique take on its production, which he describes as a progressive style.
For starters, Massey uses less sugar. Extra-brut Madame Zéro is aged for five years, considerably more than the accepted 12 to 15 months of non-vintage bubbly, the lengthier barrel time meaning less sugar needed. Rather than a mix of grapes, Massey’s champagne is composed entirely of premier cru chardonnay. While most champagne producers procure their grapes from several of the 319 villages in the certified champagne region, Massey secures his grapes from a single village, Vertus.
Hands on in every step, the man knows his stuff and easily gets heavily into percentages of this and of that. Massey admits to being a “nerd” when it comes to the complexities of his champagne. But that expertise is required to create a veritable product, independently distributed that is worthy of wine lists including those of Mastro’s, Da Marco, Toulouse, Brasserie 19, MAD and many other Houston restaurants. It is also available at Central Market and Spec’s where the price is $59.99.
As part of his philosophy in supporting the community, Massey has provided his champagne for a number of recent fundraising events for nonprofits. While recognition of this bright, palette-pleasing bubbly is growing across the area, Massey has more developments in the works. Currently, he is working on a much-anticipated vintage rosé, which should be market ready by year’s end or early 2023 at the latest.