VISIT AND TASTING AT CHAMPAGNE JANISSON & FILS
Established for almost a century on the Montagne de Reims, Janisson is a well-known family in Champagne and beyond. Representing the 5th generation on the estate, Manuel Janisson creates remarkable cuvées of intensity and freshness. Through a distinctive and easily identifiable identity, Manuel defined the “Janisson & Fils style” which is a perpetual quest for finesse and elegance as well as a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. Located on the Montagne de Reims between Mailly en Champagne and Verzy, we met at the Champagne Janisson & Fils cellar this well-known figure of Verzenay – one of the 17 villages classified as Grand Cru. The opportunity to get to know this successful winegrower and to learn more about the “Janisson & Fils style”.
Between present and past
There are two branches of the family (and not to be mistaken with the Janisson Baradon family from Epernay) ; the Janisson branch from Mailly and the Arnould one whose the grand-father was at 19 years old one of the first RM wine grower – for sure a groundbreaker at this time. It is also the grand-father who dug the cellar with a pickaxe (40 000 bottles before the war : négociant). In 1923 the grand-father of Manuel Janisson launched his first cuvée. Faithful to the terroir of the family, this one is made only of Pinot Noirs. As for the first racking, it took place in the dining room where Manuel still lives today with his wife Agnès and the winegrower continues to preciously keep the album with the souvenirs of the family.
His mother farmed six hectares in Verzenay, Verzy and Mailly, and his father five hectares in Mailly, Chigny, Essomes. By helping them during his youth, Manuel acquired their know-how directly in the field. He completed his basic learning in Avize : technician certificate with a viti-oenology elective. Then he left for the US where he stayed a few months in California and worked in a Winery in Napa.
In Verzenay, Manuel used to work on a small part of the vineyard – the estates had been cut in 3 generation. At 20 years old, he embarks on brokerage getting close to a broker from Epernay. During 5 to 6 years, he used to put his suit and tie after his work in the vineyard to be a broker until his mentor sold his portfolio. Then he chose to turn to a commercial agent portfolio in the Retailing market which he exploited for about 10 years – still in parallel of its activities of winegrower -, he is 25 years old.
In 1996, he mastered and understand both downstream and upstream and chose to become a Négociant – innovator at that time for an winegrower. After having made the tour of the profession, he opened his own Maison de Négoce Janisson & Fils (NM) in the heart of Verzenay and launched a complete new range of Champagnes under his name. He put up a large winery and initially made volume with the big players of the champagne market to cushion his investment. He is also one of the first to put forward the winemakers and the RM in wine fairs.
Then he naturally chose to reflect his expensive and qualitative supply by setting up a special bottle in 2006 that was released in 2012 only. Today, Manuel focuses on the Janisson & Fils brand and bit by bit drops the retail industry. He works on products with added value thanks to a rigorous and selective supply in Grand Crus and 1er Crus notably with Pinots from Montagne de Reims. Just like his grandfather before him, Pinot Noir remains the dominant grape variety for his cuvées and Manuel perpetuates the family tradition by making a Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, flying the flag of Verzenay.
In 2010, Manuel build a new impressive cellar – he needs more space – it is the opportunity for him to make a contemporary and modern flagship while integrating it perfectly into the landscape: an earth tone weathering steel building with vines that will climb on the walls and a vegetal roof. Indeed, for Manuel the terroir of Verzenay, classified 100% Grand Cru, fully deserves it. A modern and elegant building just like the wines and the bottle which has its own filed mold. The Janisson bottles are easily recognizable with their logo J that some defined as a nose other as a carafe. It has been designed by Jordan – one of his three children with Julia and Olivia – and Manuel keeps preciously all the sketches.
Just like his grandfather who had different phases – he preferred the wine making process then the vines part, or Bordeaux wines then Burgundy ones… – same thing for Manuel who at this moment is more in his wine phase. Regarding the vines, he is at this time ploughing the soil, and starts a natural green cover in the vineyard.
Wine making process : between the prestige of big House and the level of requirement of winegrowers.
At the head of a family estate of 9ha mainly located on the Montagne de Reims, Manuel takes care of 30ha at the press room, has 25 ha that a service company is in charge of and around an hundred of supply including 50ha of Grand and Premier Cru – which is the great strength of the House. With 50% of Pinot Noir from Verzenay and the surrounding area, 25% of Chardonnay from Verzenay and Villers-Allerand and 25% of Meunier, Champagne Janisson & Fils has a clear guiding line due to the general implantation of its terroir and it has become a brand reflecting the identity of the north face of the Montagne de Reims. Its « fins lieux » – best plots of the terroir – are located on the slope in the highest third and produce wines with spicy notes, a good taste of fruits and length on the palate for refined cuvées. Manuel explains that each cru of the Montagne de Reims has its own identity and all the terroirs and crus allows him to compose his blends : Verzenay brings generous bouquet, Verzy gives great Pinot Noirs with smoky and spicy taste, Mailly creates body and complexity, Chigny-les-Roses and Ludes develops fruity notes, lightness and fullness.
Attentive to the different qualitative aspects, Manuel takes side of an integrated viticulture : great precaution on the respect of the soil. For instance, he uses an electric tractor that does not abrupt the vines and releases much less CO2.
A responsible viticulture, not organic but Manuel does not wish to go this way. However, he chose to use no more herbicides and insecticides, to reduce to a maximum treatments – used only when necessary. He often talks often with INRA engineers and seeks to have the least impact possible on his terroir : a viticulture of common sense. For him, HVE – High Environmental Value -, sustainable, integrated viticulture suit much more his approach and his vision, the goal being to minimize human impacts. We could call it a comprehensive approach. Then come technical aspects, such as a program of soil analysis, the implementation of tests on the management of vines … No revolution in the proper therm but an investment, a passion for those vines more and more pushed. In order to bring this quality and delicacy even further, what makes more sense than putting technology at the service of the vines : tools of a rare precision allowing to map the plots in a punctilious way and consequently to work the vines with a more meticulous approach… all this in the logic of adopting evolutions and new concepts.
The characteristic of the Janisson & Fils range are finesse and elegance. However, Manuel does not look for the power already presents in the Pinot Noir. What interests him is the delicacy of the bouquet. The belons – which flow from the press – have a lot of champagne bouquet and his grandfather used to put a parachute cloth on the top of the press to preserve all the bouquet. Toward this goal, he is the first to cool to 12 ° the juices to preserve a maximum of aromas in the respect of what his grandfather was seeking.
Regarding the vinification, no wood barrels for Manuel ; he tried in the past but found this method of vinification unsuited for the style he was looking for – maybe more on liquors in the future but sparingly in order to keep the fruity side always sought after in the Janisson & fils wines. In fact, he asked himself the question for his burgundy wines but Manuel prefers the vats to keep the subtle delicateness of his wines. For him, barrels are quite more interesting for wine to age.
All the cuvées of Champagne Janisson & Fils aged at a continuous temperature of 12 degrees a minimum of 3 years in the cellar – Brut Tradition and Rosé to keep all the fruity character of the wine – and a minimum of 5 years for the others – Blanc de Noirs, Brut Nature.
His Pinot Noirs are frank and offer clean, chiseled and fruity wines offering a nice evolution but noteworthy to report, Manuel does not seek the oxidation.
Tasting of refined and elegant cuvées
«The inescapable Janisson & Fils cuvée»
70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay are blended for this cuvée with a dosage of 7gr/L and 22% of reserve wines. The wines aged 3 years before the bottles are released. The chalky soil bring an authentic and elegant lightness to this cuvée.
A straw-colored and crystalline cuvée with an elegant fluidity. The fresh and delicate nose expresses both red and white fruits aromas toned with floral and plant notes. The palate is complex and frank with intense fruits and round aromas – marshmallow, hazelnut notes and candied lemon. An elegant cuvée.
CUVEE BRUT NATURE
«The Janisson style in all authenticity»
A blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay stripped of any dosage (0gr/L) and with 22% of reserve wines. Two to 3 years additional aging is necessary for this cuvée to be able to be without dosage. A partial malolactic fermentation is carried out to bend the aromas.
The color is a brillant white gold with golden yellow and silver tints. The bouquet, pure and precise thanks to the absence of dosage, offers stone fruit aromas – peach and apricots – as well as white flowers, cedar and citrus fruit peel notes. The palate is fruity – candied lemon and redcurrant notes – with a beautiful acidity and chalky minerality. The finish offers gourmet notes of almond. A perfectly balanced cuvée – despite the absence of any dosage -, it is a authentic journey in champagne from the origins of Pinot Noir to the one of the Chardonnay.
«A sublime multi-faceted rosé»
This rosé is made of 50% of blending 50% of saignée in order to not to add too many tannins and highlights the bitterness : “We rack a saignée at 24h and the red wine is added”. The blend is made up of 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay including 23% of reserve wines. Finally, after 3 years aging, the wine is dose at 8gr/L.
The colors is a clear and light «mango» colour. The initial nose reveals fruity and generous notes – wild berries, pastries, vanilla and cinnamon. Then it develops more spicy aroma like cinnamon and thyme. The palate very creamy and generous with candied fruits notes – quince, orange, apricot – and finally the finish exploses with elegant litchis and redcurrant taste.
CUVEE BLANC DE BLANCS
«The elegance of the Côte des Blancs and Grande Montagne»
This Blanc de Blancs is a blend of 1/3 Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 2/3 from the Grande montagne de Reims. It aged 3 years in the cellar before its release to obtain a refined and elegant wine perfectly balanced with its dosage at 8gr/L.
The color is a white gold with silver tints. Slightly brioche-like, the nose is generous but delicate and fruity – pear, apple and mirabelle plum notes. The palate is crisp and incisive with ripe pink grapefruit, pear and mineral notes. The finish is persistent, mineral and opulent with expressive candied fruit aromas.
CUVEE GRAND CRU
«The essence of the best Janisson Terroirs»
A selection of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%) exclusively from the best Grand Cru terroirs of Champagne. The blend includes 18% of Reserve wines. After 3 years aging in the cellar, a dosage of 7gr/L is added to balance this elegant cuvée.
A straw-colored, sand-colored wine. The nose is generous with flower notes and fruity aromas – white, tangy and stewed fruits. The palate, complex, pure and offering a great freshness, is mineral with hazelnuts, honey and toaster aromas. An impressive aromatic persistence.
CUVEE BLANC DE NOIRS
«A seductive champagne»
This 100% Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs is a pure Verzenay with a 2010 bas. Its dosage 8gr/L allows the Pinot Noir to express all its complexity through this emblematic cuvée of the style of Champagne Janisson & Fils.
A light gold color with golden tints. The nose, opulent, buttered and spiced, exhibits scents of Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, juicy fruits – a ripe pear, plum, red berry fruits – as well as cedar, and white blossom. The taste starts on mineral notes as well as white and red fruits aromas – mirabelle plum -. A full-bodied wine with a superb balance and a long pretty opulent finish with scents of citrus fruits and flowers.
CUVEE VINTAGE 2006
«The character of 2006»
Manuel chooses to create few vintages, he selects years that will have a different character from each other – 2010, 2006, 1998, 1996. Manuel is a generous wine-grower and has pleasure to open a great wine, his only regret is not to have kept a wine archives, but he wants to rectify that by starting with the 2006 – a vintage already sublime but still promising. For Manuel, a vintage must be a year of character.
A blend of Chardonnay (50%) from the Côte de Blancs and Pinot Noir (50%) from the Montagne de Reims balanced with a light dosage (8gr/L). Raised in steel vat and without malolactic fermentation to bring the wine further in time, the blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir let the character of 2006 expresses itself perfectly.
The color is a clear gold with light green glint. The nose is generous and buttered with brioche and stone fruits aromas with praline, honey and fern notes. It evolves then into more exotic notes. The palate is powerful but all in elegance and complexity. The wine expresses a delicate vinosity embellished with aromatic herbs and spices notes – thyme and pepper. The finish lasts. A gastronomic cuvée.
BONUS : BOURGOGNE FROM THE CROIX SAINT JACQUES ESTATE
It is in 2010 that Manuel decides to take over an estate in Burgundy : 12 hectares of vineyard planted essentially to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is the slopes of the estates and the tutorian chalk basement that give to the wines of Joigny their unique character.
VIN DES ROSES – LE VIN GRIS DE JOIGNY
A unique blend of five grape varieties : Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Tressot and Sauvignon Blanc. The vinification is done in steel vat.
The color is an orangey pink – coppered-melon – typical of “grey” wines. The nose is strong and structured with honeyed and fruity notes of peach, apricot, mango and kumquat. It develops also floral – musk – notes. The palate is aromatic, complex and opulent offering red fruits aromas.
A 100% Chardonnay wine vinified in steel vat with just a delicate touch of wood (around 15%) to bring an elegant subtlety.
The color is a clear, bright white gold with silver and green glint. The nose is light and floral – white flowers, hawthorn and acacia – offering honeyed and white fruits notes of fresh almond, apple and quince. The well-balanced and supple palate is also floral with lemon zest notes. An expressive and fruity wine with citrus notes. Elegant and crisp, this pure white Burgundy offers a good length provided by mineral grip and the acidity of the grape variety.
BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR
A 100% Pinot Noir wine vinified in oak barrels.
The color is a light ruby red. The nose offers refined and fruity aroma – cherry and redcurrant – with spicy notes – white pepper and cilantro. The palate develops a great freshness. This cuvée is frank and harmonious with blackberry notes. The palate also reveals refined and delicate tannins. A perfect wine to match with a ‘potée champenoise’ – a French stew.
Janisson et Fils
Responsable : Manuel Janisson
Location : Verzenay (Montagne de Reims)
Majority grape variety : Pinot Noir
Other grape varieties : Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier
Vineyard surface : 9 ha + 65 ha of supply
Viticulture : integrated viticulture
CHAMPAGNE JANISSON ET FILS
11 rue de Beaumont,
DOMAINE DE LA CROIX SAINT-JACQUES
24 faubourg de Paris,