2016 PRINTEMPS DES CHAMPAGNES TASTING
April 18, was the tasting of the association Des pieds et des vins ; 12 winegrowers of Champagne grouped together to present their vins clairs of the year and their champagnes to professionals at the Ponsardin Mansion in Reims.
Des pieds et des vins
Passion, professionalism, enthusiasm, strong commitment, and always endearing human stories… Des pieds et des vins is an association of 12 winegrowers sharing the same passion for their terroirs and who have the same respect of the environment. Those artisans of character create wines before bubbles and they re-invent constantly their estates to give a new impetus and create a new dynamic to the family vineyard. For the members of Des pieds et des vins, understanding the terroir is essential and ploughing the soil allows them to create wines with personality. Authenticity and uniqueness is what links those 12 winegrowers.
One tasting for 12 personalities
The date was set : the 18th of April at the Mansion of Nicolas Ponsardin built in 1780 and actually the headquarter of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Reims and Epernay. The building classified as Historic Monument was hosting the tasting of Des pieds et des vins for the Printemps des champagnes 2016.
First, we met with Sébastien Mouzon from the House Mouzon-Leroux of Verzy. The winegrower uses a biodynamic approach on his 7,5 hectares of vines combined with the family traditional know-how passed from generation to generation since 1776. The terroir of Verzy in the Montagne de Reims brings a very saline minerality to the wines. Sébastien was presenting two of his still wines : a 100% Chardonnay and a 100% Pinot Noir. As for the champagnes – authentic with distinct character -, he brought his Rosé de Saignée called L’Incandescent – light and elegant -, as well as L’Atavique – an harmonious blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay -, and L’Ineffable – a powerful Blanc de Noirs with woody notes. Finally, the visitors tasted his Ratafia de Saignée called L’Éxaltant – a surprising and delightful ratafia of maceration.
Agnés, from Champagne Corbon based in Avize, uses traditional methods and rejects all oeno-technological techniques to avoid a standardization of her wines. She manages the 3 hectares of vineyard and the cellar of the family with tradition and craftsmanship to create authentic and expressive champagnes. In the winery, she produces her cuvées with a clever winemaking – no filtration, no finings, no adjuvant or additive, a long maturation on lees – to give depth and aging complexity. The champagnes Corbon reflect the terroir of the estate and the know-how of the family like the Brut d’Autrefois – a perpetual blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% of Pinot Noirs with exceptional length and great minerality.
Oenologist and agricultural engineer, Rémi Leroy manages the 8,5 hectares of the family estate with his father. The champagnes Remi Leroy draw their minerality and their personality from the clay-limestone soil of Meurville in the Côte des Bar. The winemaker was presenting his Brut Nature – a base of 2012 and a blend of mature Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay and Pinot Meuniers – offering intense and expressive notes of pear and pineapple with a long finish with a noble bitterness. On the other hand, the Rosé, also a base of 2012, develops cherry notes with a refine and creamy palate. Finally, the Blanc de Noirs, a 100% Pinot Noirs is pure and elegant with a mineral freshness. All the champagnes reflects the expression of the terroir with elegance.
Champagne Etienne Calsac is located in Avize in the Côte des Blancs. Etienne is taking care of the 2,8 hectares of the family spread over 3 villages – Avize, Grauves and Bisseuil. The estate is High Environmental Value (HVE) certified and managed with an organic method to let the roots penetrate deeply in the ground and give the vines the ability to best express their terroirs. For Etienne understanding the soil is essential as form him living wines come from living soils. In the cellar, he vinifies wines separately in order to highlight the difference of each cru. At the tasting, the winemaker was presenting 3 cuvées : L’Echappée Belle – a delightfully fruity Extra-Brut -, Les Rocheforts – a fresh and elegant single parcel Blanc de Blancs – and Rose de Craie – a delicate and crisp rosé with a chalky minerality.
Only 1,7 hectares for Champagne Guillaume Sergent in Vrigny managed by Guillaume, young oenologist, who is committed to the maturation of his wines that lie during a minimum of 30 months on lees. This micro-producer recently started making his own wine in 2008 using a biodynamic philosophy to preserve his terroir and remaining connected to his wines during all the making process to create quality champagnes with distinctive taste of terroir. Guillaume brought his two cuvées : Les Prés Dieu – a precise and pure Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs aged in demi-muid for a controlled oxidation – and the cuvée Chemin des Chappes – an opulent and highly expressive Extra-Brut, 50/50 Pinot Noirs and Pinot Meuniers from old vines.
At Champagne Barrat-Masson in Villenauxe-la-Grande, Aurélie – oenologist – and Loïc – winegrower -create together quality champagnes from organic farming. They produce with passion wines with strong personality coming from the expression of the terroir of their 7 hectares of vineyard. Aurélie and Loïc chose to present their cuvée Fleur de Craie – an elegant and complex 2012 Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs with freshness and great intensity. They also brought three other cuvées: Les Margannes – a well-balanced Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs from 2011 harvest with a large aromatic range -, Grain d’argile – a fruity and fresh Extra-Brut made of a blend of 50/50 Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay -, and a 2011 Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs vinified in oak barrels – complex but mineral with brioche notes.
In Romery, Champagne Aurélien Lurquin is a 2,3 hectare estate spread over five parcels and certified biodynamic since 2012. The House uses a biodynamic method and a traditional press to produce rich and intense wines. Aurélien took over the estates in 2007 and started to produced champagnes in 2013 from the vineyard. He takes great care of his estate, making a point of honor to understand each of the vines. His Blanc de Noirs – a 100% Pinot Meunier – is intensely fresh and fruity with a pure and linear style whereas the Blanc de Blancs is opulent and mineral with a nice salinity and developing structure on the palate from the chalk of the soil. As for the Coteaux Champenois, it offers great pleasure during the tasting with its great finesse.
7 hectares spread over 7 villages for Champagne Vadin-Plateau, an estate in Cumières certified High Environmental Value. Yann is the 9th generation and perpetuates the family know-how bringing passion and emotion in his wines. The winemaker chose carefully a vinification specifically adapted to the characteristics of his terroirs. Yann creates authentic wines expressing minerality and concentrate flavors using a process between the tradition passed down from generation to generation since 1785 and innovation. The winegrower brought two Blanc de Noirs : Renaissance – a fresh Extra-Brut 100% Pinot Meuniers from Cumières – and Bois de Jots – a 2012 Brut Nature 100% Pinots Noirs from Cumières ; a wine expressing the character of the Pinot Noirs and the minerality of its soil.
Using a biodynamic method over the 9 hectares of the estates, Thomas from Champagne Robert Barbichon in Gyé-sur-Seine chose this approach to create elegant, vinous, expressive and delicate cuvées. Thanks to its know-how the champagnes reveal and release energy and fresh fruit. Thomas, 4th generation on the estate, was presenting his Réserve 4 cépages with two different dosages – 7 and 4g/liter – a fresh and well-balanced cuvée with a dominance of Pinot Noirs and 10% of Pinot Blanc – an old grape variety. The winegrower was also presenting an Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs with a 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Blanc blending ; the cuvée offers a nice complexity and subtle bitter tastes with a nice aging potential.
Champagne Stroebel is an estate in Villers-Allerand of 3,5 hectares using organic viticulture since 2009 and certified since 2014. Timothée produces great champagnes with passion and love ; for him “less is more” that is why the winemaker lets the vines go wild to express themselves. He gives the vineyard one essential thing to create expressive wines : time. He chose to present two 100% Pinot Meunier vins clairs – one white, one red -, one Coteaux Champenois and 3 champagnes : Héraclite – a gourmet and complex Pinot Meunier Blanc de Noirs with a surprising salty and salivating hint -, Héraclite Sous Bois – a powerful and well-balanced Blanc de Noirs with woody notes – and finally Logos d’Héraclite Rosé de Saignée – a cuvée with an impressive maturity and depth on spices.
We met then with Flavien Nowack; this winegrower located in Vandières – at 15 km from Epernay – knows how to create emotions. Flavien is taking care of the 3,6 hectares of his estate by perpetuating the tradition of the family. He chose to plough the soil of the vineyard and to use a traditional press in the winery. His fiddly work allows to reveal the personality and the purity of the terroirs thanks to a patient vinification. His vin clair of Cuis – a 100% Chardonnay of 2015 from a 63 year-old parcel – is mineral and vegetal while the Pinot Noirs from Les Bauchets is precise with an elegant structure. As for the champagnes, Les Tuileries expressed vegetal honey notes, Les Fontinettes – a 100% Pinot Meunier – was elegant and precise with a light minerality and Les Bauchets offered an elegant structure with thick, complex and mature notes.
Finally we stopped at Champagne Thomas Perseval from Charmery : a 2,5 hectare estate certified in organic viticulture since 2012. The winemaker is attached to the respect of the terroir and nature but also to maintain a traditional know-how, a certain authenticity and harmony for a perfect balance in the vineyard as well as in the wines. In the winery, he limites the intervention for great gustatory quality and optimal aromatic power. The cuvées are expressive and real terroir wines. Among the champagnes, he presented Grande Cuvée, the perfect reflect of the style of the House with a wonderfully structured palate with saline notes; expression of the terroirs of Champagne Thomas Perseval.
The tasting of Des pieds et des vins was a unique opportunity for professionals to discover winegrower wines in a friendly atmosphere. A intimate event to discuss with artisans that share the same passion for their terroirs.