2016 PRINTEMPS DES CHAMPAGNES TASTING
16 champagne winegrowers met for one day of wine tastings the 17th April 2016 in the beautiful Reims Town Hall. An invitation to discover in one place the diversity of the terroirs represented within the association Les Mains Du Terroir de Champagne but also to taste the champagnes and the still wines of the year giving an overview of the future vintages.
Les Mains Du Terroir de Champagne
Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, Montage de Reims, Côte des Noirs, Vallée de l’Ardre, Massif de Saint-Thierry, Côtes des Bars… Les Mains Du Terroir de Champagne is a group of 16 winegrowers from each of the geographical area of the AOC Champagne. An association around talent and authenticity to represent the diversity of the region and regroup producers who make great wines. Those winegrowers, who share the same passion of their work and the love of their terroirs, organize every year a professional wine tasting during the Printemps des champagnes where each of them present their terroir, their soil and their style. Diversity but common interest around the richness of the terroir unit those talented winemakers.
An experience to learn how to taste terroirs
The tasting took place in the beautiful City Hall of Reims, on the sunny Sunday 17th of April. Retailers, Sommeliers, importers, press and bloggers got there to have the possibility to discover the singularity of each terroir and the style of each winemaker in a friendly and pleasant atmosphere. In the back of the ball room, Geoffrey Orban – French ambassador of Champagne and vice-ambassador European 2006 – organized a workshop to understand the influence of the soil and terroir on the cuvées : chalk, marls, sand, clay… Geoffrey explains all the effects on the wine during the tasting.
After a better understanding of the terroir with the workshop, stand by stand the winemakers present us 2 to 3 of their still wines 2015, very mature and already delightful, they give us a good idea of the physiognomy of the future vintages.
16 winegrowers, 16 different terroirs
To discover the richness of the terroirs of Champagne, we start at the Janisson Baradon table where Maxence and Cyril present us their House located in Epernay. Their wines are crisp, fresh, elegant and well-structured expressing the minerality without harshness despite the low dosage. As for their three single plot cuvées – Toulette, Conges and Tue Bœuf -, they are a true concentration of the expression of the terroirs.
From Brouillet in the Vallée de l’Ardre, Paul Vincent Aspasie presents the signature, the terroir and the tradition of the family. Perfect blend of tradition and modernity, the house Aspasie produces champagnes with balance and finesse, including the cuvée Brut Cépages d’Antant, a vintage from a blend of three ancient and very rare Champagne grapes varieties : Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc.
The House Vazart-Coquart located in the Côte des blancs is naturally specialized in Blanc de blancs. Jean Pierre Vazart creates very fruity wines with a lot of minerality but in the same time well-balanced. The perpetuation of the family know-how combined with the great care of the vines allow to sublimate the nature of high-quality grapes.
Three grape varieties but only one cru : all the vineyard of Maxime Blin is located in Vrigny. That also means that his wines are all mono-crus which is very rare in Champagne. During the tasting, the champagnes develop unexpected aromas thanks to a meticulous and gentle production method. Each cuvée of Maxime Blin is unique with distinct style coming from unusual terroir.
For champagne Coessens, it is one area – the Côte de bars -, one town – Ville sur Arce -, one plot – Largillier – and one grape variety – Pinot Noir. The exceptional clay content of the soil brings a taste that is the pure expression of the terroir for mature, powerful, thick and heady champagnes with a high level of maturity.
The winegrowers, Marie-Laure and Alexandre, elaborate mainly pure Blanc de Blancs with freshness and minerality coming from the chalk soil. As for the vinification, champagne Marie Copinet is one of the only House using a stainless-steel egg instead of tank or barrels, keeping the wines in constant movement. There is no doubt during the tasting about the respect of the terroir and the passion of the two winemakers.
Certified Demeter in Biodynamic since 2014 and organic since 2010, De Sousa champagnes express finesse, elegance, vivacity, minerality and sapidity. 70% of the vineyard family consists of old vines. In perpetual research of excellence, this creative winegrower sublimates the terroir of the Côte des Blancs. He was also one of the first to purchase an Ovum: Charlotte entrusts us that the first tasting of the still wines vinified in the Ovum are already very promising.
“See the bubble in the eyes of people who taste my champagne”, that is what Eric Rodez is looking for when he compose his cuvées. This winemaker and philosopher creates emotion in the glass. While we taste the rounded and rich flavors, Eric explains that by his work he preserves the music of the grapes and make the wines play their own melody.
Paul and Adrien from champagne Fallet-Dart, create wines with character and authenticity. The constant research of improvement and the respect of tradition is a priority for them in order to produce great champagnes with exceptional quality. Each of the wines has their own personality coming from distinctly different processes of production, blending and aging.
In Le Mesnil sur Oger, the terroir brings rich, pure, nuanced and mineral character to the champagnes of Philippe Gonet. The winegrower, specialized in Chardonnay, produces quality wines that ally strength and delicacy with a distinctive mineral cut coming from the chalk of the terroir.
For Lacourte-Godbillon, the priority is the quality rather than quantity. Pure expression of the terroir, the champagnes of Géraldine and Richard combine modernity and tradition. For the dosage, they choose the perfect balance that will highlight the wine character. The cuvées are fresh with a good energy.
Calling themselves “ecolo-pragmatic”, Isabelle and Michel from champagne Serge Mathieu, focus on the vineyard with an eco-friendly approach, avoiding the use of any chemical products. During the tasting, the champagnes are well-balanced and naturally crisp with some suppleness and elegance obtained by the long aging.
Representing the terroir of Verzy, the Penet-Chardonnet champagnes have unique style. Indeed, Alexandre creates terroir-focused wines with concentrated minerality and character thanks to a parcellaire approach. The purity of each champagne is enhanced by a low dosage and for some cuvée a brut nature dosage.
Always smiling, Isabelle and Benoist welcome us at their table to present the champagne Perseval-Farge. Both of them are passionate about wine and it is easy to feel it while we taste their cuvées which are great blends from today and yesterday grape varieties. The little sin of Benoist : long aging for complex and exquisite wines, ideal during the meal.
7,5 ha of vineyard, 7 villages from “Vallée de la Marne” and the ”Côte des Blancs”, J-M Sélèque created his personal approach within the traditional Méthode champenoise. For him, it is the terroir that gives the true character to the wines. And to reveal the quintessence of the best of his terroir, Jean Marc created the cuvée Partition, a delicate wine with great balance.
Finally, Didier and Thierry from champagne Maurice Vesselle are presenting their wines. For this family who owns 9ha of vines exclusively in Grand cru, the terroir protection is essential. Certified in High Environmental Value since 2013, they perfectly combine tradition and modern methods for well-balanced champagnes between the power of pinot noir and the freshness of the chardonnay of their vineyard.
During this tasting, wine professionals from around the world got the opportunity to discover the diversity of the Champagne terroir through the work and the passion of 16 talented winegrowers. And much to our good fortune : each producer was presenting a “cuvée inédite” – Old vintages, Clos, mono-parcellaire, Vieille vigne cuvée,… A perfect end for this unique tasting.