2016 PRINTEMPS DES CHAMPAGNES TASTING
More than 30 different terroirs through 23 winegrowers grouped together in the same place the 18th April for a day of wine tastings. An event to share with us their liking for authentic Champagne wines; a unique experience in the historic and prestigious Palais du Tau in Reims to discover their 2015 still wines and re-discover their cuvées.
Terres et Vins de Champagne
Terres et Vins de Champagne, is an association of 23 winegrowers of the AOP Champagne; 23 winegrowers of all age and coming from distinct geographical regions who share the same passion and believe that quality and diversity are the strength of Champagne. Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Massif Saint-Thierry, Côte des Bars, Côtes des Blancs… those 23 winemakers are coming from different terroirs, have their own philosophy and wine-making methods but share a common willingness to gather people in a friendly atmosphere around the king of the wines and highlight the terroir diversity of the region.
One tasting, 30 terroirs, 23 winegrowers
Originators of the Printemps des Champagnes, the 23 members of Terres et Vins de Champagne organized the 8th edition of their annual still wine tasting the 18th April in the Palais du Tau, place where the kings of France used to stay during their coronation. A tradition renewed every year now, this event is a success since the first edition in 2009 and has been since then joined by others winegrower associations to create the Champagne Week – now called Printemps des champagnes. It is a perfect opportunity for wine professionals to taste the still wines, the last vintage year and the champagnes of exceptional winegrowers.
This year again the weather was beautiful, the visitor enjoyed the site and tasted excellent wines. 2015 brought nice and clear juice that will create great champagnes in few years. Once again, the winegrowers of Terres et Vins presented their cuvées in a friendly and educational atmosphere allowing to discover the very essence of the Champagne wines : the terroir. The level of quality of the producers involved was very high and offered to the visitor a nice trip through the Champagne Region.
From the Côte des Blancs, Pascal Agrapart in Avize who vinifies each plot individually was presenting his cuvées Minéral, Avizoise and Vénus. As for Laure and Pascal Doquet who run an organic certified estates in Vertus, they were offering three Blanc de Blancs : Le Mesnil, Vertus and Le Mont Aimé 2005. Newbie this year, Aurélien Suenen presented his pure and delicate cuvées Blanc de Blancs coming from vines planted in chalky soils in the Grand cru villages of Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry
From the Vallée de la Marne, Françoise Bedel and Vincent Desaubeau who cultivate their vineyard with biodynamic method, create together cuvées that reflects perfectly their terroirs including Entre Ciel et Terre. Also with a biodynamic approach, Franck Pascal chose to produce authentic wines with a majority of Pinot Meunier. The champagnes of Jean Baptiste from the House Geoffroy are made with patience and respect of the terroir, he brought that day his Blanc de Rose, a delicate Rosé de Saignée. Also present that day, Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant were offering their sublime and complex Extra-Brut and Brut Nature cuvées including BAM, a blend of three old grape varieties – Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Arbanne.
The Montagne de Reims was represented by not less than 10 winegrower. Among them, Raphaël and Vincent Bérèche who create wines with recognizable style and character. Francis Boulard and his daughter Delphine explained their choice of an organic and biodynamic philosophy for their vineyard for fine, elegant and mineral wines. Only two cuvées for Emmanuel Brochet, whose estates is located at the foot of the Montagne de Reims. He creates harmonious organic wines that are a unique expression of a single terroir. On the North side, Alexandre Chartogne-Taillet cultivates one of the old grape varieties – namely Arbanne. He was presenting the authenticity of his champagnes and unveiling various secret single-vineyard champagnes. Three essential principle for Etienne Goutorbe – authenticity, rigor and originality – who brought among two other cuvées, his new creation Blanc de Noirs. With a dominance of Pinot Noirs, the champagnes of Valérie and Benoit Lahaye were of great finesse and characteristic of their terroir including his cuvée Violaine – a Brut Nature 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir vinified without sulphur. As for Marie-Noëlle Ledru, she masters perfectly the Pinot Noir in a very respectful and traditional way, from the soil to the finished bottles. Vincent from Champagne George Laval works with natural and traditional methods as well as an organic approach since 1971 preserving the original flavors of his terroir. David Léclapart prefered a biodynamic practice to have healthy vines for pure, subtle and complex wines offering great pleasure during tasting. In mono-cru champagnes, the visitors got the opportunity to taste the cuvées of Olivier from the House Hubert Paulet. His wines have strong character and reflect the specifity of the terroir of Rilly-la-Montagne.
Close by, in Talus Saint-Prix – between Epernay and Sézanne – Cyril, from the estate Jeanaux-Robin, sets as goal to obtain wines that are the pure expression of his clay-limestone terroir. A goal largely reached with the three cuvées presented : one Rosé de Saignée 2012, Les Marnes Blanches a Blanc de Blancs 2011 and Les Grands Nots a 2005 vintage.
Representing not less than 10 villages, 7 grape varieties spread over around 80 different plots, Aurélien and Thierry from Champagne Laherte Frères were presenting their fragmented vineyard and their quest of quality and balanced wines. As for the estate of Fabrice Pouillon, it is spread over 7 different villages and the winegrower struggles to preserve the specifity of each cru of his terroirs.
Three winegrowers were representing the Côte des Bars including Vincent Couche who chose a biodynamic approach for a perfect expression of his terroir thanks to a vinification in barrels. Also using a biodynamic method, Dominique of the estate Marie Courtin creates only vintage champagnes from only one grape variety – 100% Chardonnay or 100% Pinot Noir. Olivier Horiot is an experimenter; all his vinification are highly original and he cultivates all the 7 grape varieties.
Zoom in on four winegrowers
First stop with Franck Pascal; this winegrower knows how to create emotions. We found a Franck who was a little bit nervous as it was the first time he was presenting his Coteaux champenois. However, no reason to be nervous as his Coteaux are perfectly balanced with a nice expression of the minerality and morello cherry aroma – a great discovery for all the visitors of the tasting. Franck is taking care of 7 hectares with a biodynamic approach, he works naturally to create “living wines” without sulfure. The Brut Nature, Reliance is the very essence of the 2011 harvest and is perfect for moments of conviviality. Finally, Pacifiance – a perpetual blend Solera cuvée – offers a nice complexity highlighted by the Brut Nature character of the dosage.
At Champagne Pouillon’s table, Fabrice presents his approach and his wines. He joined the family estates in 1998 and since then brought a new dimension to the winery; dedicated to his vineyard, he started the conversion to organic viticulture and incorporated biodynamic principles. The result is pleasantly surprising and the champagnes are an invitation to travel and to taste new flavors. Expressive and terroir-driven, the still-wines and the champagnes offer a nice complexity : a pleasant acidity for the Chardonnay of Aÿ Les Valnons, roundness and complexity for the still wine Pinot Meunier Festiny, and a Pinot Noir Chemin du bois tight and more with a wine character. The cuvée Solera 9710 offers smoky aromas with a delicate freshness whereas the Valnons 2008 – powerful and vinous – has a nice aging potential. Finally, Chemin du Bois 2008 is a soft and dense wine.
As for Valérie and Benoit Lahaye, they chose to treat the vineyard with plants and minerals. They also use biodynamic practices to improve the characteristics of the terroir and reveal the full potential of the soil and the vines to obtain expressive wines. The cuvée Violaine – a champagne with no added sulfure – offers fresh and fruity notes with a well-balanced acidity and the minerality of the chalk soil. Les Cercets – a Blanc de Noirs – develops complex, round aromas of red fruits. Finally, Le Jardin de la Gross Pierre comes from a more complex soil and offers rare aromas. All the champagnes are made with a low dosage to have a pure expression of the terroir of the Lahaye estate.
Our last focus is about the House of Bérèche & Fils. For Raphaël and Vincent, 5th generation on the estate, to respect the soil is a priority. Their work is a blend of tradition, precision ad respect of life. Each soil, each wine is highly considered and respected. During the tasting, they were presenting the round still wine Ormes Pinot Noir, the straight Mailly Grand Cru, Les Challois and the chalky Ludes Premier Cru Pinot Noir Le Cran. As for the champagne they offered to the visitor to discover the cuvée Brut Réserve – complex and rich -, the Rive Gauche 2012 – expressive and mature – and Le Cran 2008 – a champagne of an incredible and delicate complexity.
Terres et Vins de Champagne is an association of 23 winegrowers that put an highlight during one day their convictions, their passion and the specificity of their terroirs, presenting exceptional champagnes thanks to their unique know-how.