2016 PRINTEMPS DES CHAMPAGNES TASTING
For its 7th edition, the tasting event called Bulles Bio en Champagne took place the 17th April in the cultural institution of Le Manège de Reims. More than 30 winegrowers and members of the association ACB offered a tasting of their 2015 still wines and their champagnes produced on their organic vineyard. A unique opportunity to discover winemakers that are committed to respect their terroir.
ACB – Association des Champagnes Biologiques
Created in 1998 by pioneers organic winegrowers, ACB is an association of Champagne producers from different champagne terroirs who share the same respect of the environment through their work. Today, the association regroups around 50 winegrowers. For years, organic producers were considered as heretics by turning upside down the traditions, but today even if they represent only 1% of the vineyard, they are setting an example of good practices to protect the Champagne terroir and organic methods are gaining ground in the Champagne region.
34 winegrowers, multiple approaches
Almost 90 champagnes, more than 30 still wines and some coteaux were presented during the tasting of Bulles Bio for the Printemps des champagnes. Besides the tasting strictly speaking, each winegrower was sharing his/her history, passion and approach with the visitors.
Among them, pioneer in organic wine growing were presents including Champagne Beaufort, Champagne Georges Laval, Champagne Fleury, Champagne Christophe Lefevre, Champagne David Léclapart, Champagne Françoise Bedel, Champagne Yves Ruffin et fils or Champagne Vouette et Sorbée.
We started with Champagne Marc Augustin and his biodynamic method. They made us “sense” 3 of his cuvées – Air, a soft and light champagne; Sans Soufre, without sulphur and well-balanced; Fire, expansive and intense. The winegrower takes full advantage of each elements to create great champagne. For Champagne Robert Barbichon, Thomas uses organic and biodynamic approaches to create elegant, vinous, expressive and delicate cuvées. In Villenauxe La Grande, Loic – winemaker – and Aurélie – oenologist – from the House Barrat-Masson create together great wines highlighting the character and richness of their terroir.
Andre and Jacques Beaufort produce structured, robust and very aromatic champagnes. Their cuvée Demi sec – a 1996 Vintage – develops nice complexity of old vintage: perfect with spicy food. The House Laurent Bénard adopted an organic approach for their terroir in Premier Cru. Each cuvée is a pure expression of this terroir. From Vincelles, Jerôme Blin presented his cuvée Octave : an elegant Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs with vivacity and freshness, combined with citrus notes.
In Eguilly-sous-Bois, Colette Bonnet applies organic and biodynamic practices on her vineyard to create two cuvées : 11/12, a rich and floral vintage 2011 and 13/14, a fruity and bitter vintage 2013. 4th generation, Jérôme Bourgeois-Diaz obtained both certification for his vineyard – organic and biodynamic – and creates champagnes that are the perfect expression of his terroir. Emmanuel Brochet produces only one cuvée – available with or without dosage. The wine is frank, mature with a nice minerality from the soil.
In Mardeuil, Vincent from Champagne Charlot-Tanneux has a lot to say about biodynamic wine growing. His vineyard is a real microcosm producing wines with strong personality, purity and outstanding finesse. Vincent Couche, Demeter certified, creates flavored cuvées with distinct style : a crisp rosé, a mature extra-brut and a well-balanced demi-sec. Only two grape varieties for Pascal Doquet who obtained the organic certification in 2007. His cuvée Horizon is a tonic and saline Blanc de Blancs whereas Arpège – also a 100% Chardonnay – combines freshness and complexity.
Charles Dufour, who works organically, was presenting his smoky, fruity and vigorous 100% Pinots Blancs; his Bulles de Comptoir #4 Vinorama, a cuvée with immense authenticity; and his voluptuous Rosé. The House Durdon-Bouval is certified by the Ecocert Label and produces an organic Blanc de Blancs with woody and fruity notes from the vinification in oak barrels. First producer using the biodynamic approach in Champagne, Fleury creates precise and mature champagnes with intense flavors and a delicate freshness on the finish. Their cuvée Sonate n°9 Opus 10 extra-brut with no added sulfure, is the expression of original purity of the grapes.
Champagne Val’Frison chose a vinification in barrels and a zéro dosage for expressive cuvées that reflect perfectly the character of the harvest of the year. Valérie creates, for sure, great natural wines without compromises. In Avenay Val d’Or, Champagne Gaiffe-Brun reveals their terroir with a biodynamic and organic approach. Their personal touch : the House matures the wines with classical music to bring emotion during the tasting. From Les Riceys, the champagnes of Olivier Horiot are surprising. This winegrower vinifies his wines by lieu-dit to highlight the aromatic finesse of the Pinot Noirs for generous, elegant and authentic cuvées.
The cuvées of Champagne Philippe Lancelot are sophisticated and express perfectly their terroir. Located in Cramant, the winegrower decided to convert his entire vineyard to biodynamic farming in 2011 to produce great and natural wines. In Cumières, each plot gives its name to the cuvée for Champagne Georges Laval. Vincent manages to preserve the character of each terroir and each parcelle to have wines that are their perfect reflect. “Purity, energy, pleasure and ecology” are the major principles of Champagne David Léclapart. The wines – all with name starting with an A – express strong but subtle character with great depth and refinement.
The House Leclerc Briant is a reference for the biodynamic approach. Each wine is the quintessence of their terroir origin. We tried their well-balanced and delicate Brut Reserve, the vinous but fresh Rosé and the round and generous Blanc de Meuniers. For Christophe Lefevre, the know-how and the respect of the nature are essential. He creates well-balanced and elegant cuvées from his high quality organic grapes. Dominique and Dominique from Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot take great care of their certified organic terroir. With a majority of Pinot Meunier, they create along with their daughter Clémence the crispy and mineral cuvée Les Meuniers de Clémence, a Rosé de Saignée with profond red fruit notes and a captivating Coteaux Champenois 100% Meunier.
5th generation on the estate, Benoit Marguet is in constant research of improvement. To obtain great wines, the well-being of the soil is essential for him and he creates champagnes with aromatic balance and great freshness. For Pascal Mazet, it is very important to let the terroir express itself. His organic wines are matured in oak barrels, not to develop woody notes, but to highlight the original character of the wines. In Pierry, Champagne Bruno Michel creates champagnes aging slowly in the cellar that express the best aromas of the terroir. The signature cuvée of the House is fresh with elegant white flower notes.
Franck Pascal is an emotion designer; Besides the biodynamic approach, the winegrower also uses homeopathy, essential oil and other natural techniques to create wines with low dosage expressing the true nature of the grapes. Using the biodynamic method for 2 years now, the House Roland Piollot Père et fils lets the terroir express itself for elegant wines with a style based on crisp and refreshing character. Champagne Yves Ruffin et fils uses a traditional vinification for a perfect balance between power and elegance. A low dosage combined with maturation in oak or acacia wood barrels highlight the finesse of the wines.
Bénédicte and Emmanuel from Champagne Ruppert-Leroy take good care of three different parcelles : Fosse Grely, Martin Fontaine and Les Cognaux. Each of them is vinified and bottled separately for a perfect expression of the terroir. Interesting choice for Champagne Solemme who presents its rustic and distinctive style with the same organic cuvée in 3 different versions : two brut nature one from 2011, one from 2012 and one with a 3gr dosage from 2012 as well. Laurent Vauversin takes the time to listen to his vineyard and his vines. He chose the organic approach to create cuvées that are the authentic expression of his terroir with a delicate freshness. 100% mono-grape variety and 100% Brut nature, Champagne Vouette et Sorbee offers mature and authentic wines that express the character of their limestone terroir.
This Bulles Bio en Champagne tasting was an exceptional opportunity to discover the different organic and biodynamic approaches used in Champagne. A unique chance for wine professional to discover the diversity of the champagnes natures.