VISIT AND TASTING AT CHAMPAGNE VINCENT BROCHET
Sensitivity, family, passion, sincerity… at Domaine Les Croix, an estate launched 70 years ago by Henri Brochet, generosity is required. The one of the grand-son, Vincent, who has at heart to create emotions through his wines and the one of Gaspard, his son, graphic artist and winegrower, who never ceases to bring out the cuvées of the House. Located between Sacy and Chamery, we met the two winemakers at their property in Ecueil – a village on the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. Symphony of a duet that shares their emotions through their champagnes.
A family with character and a team of enthusiasts
For three generations now, the Domaine Les Croix is established in the1er Cru village of Ecueil at the heart of the Montagne de Reims. In 1850, farmer from the Ardennes at that time, the family arrived in the region of Reims and settled in. His grand-parents – Brochet Hervieux – was the first generation to live in Ecueil. The grand-father who lived 4 years in London was wine merchant but did not drink any alcohol. When he came back from the United Kingdom, he was then supposed to take the management of an hotel in Paris. However, before his return in France, the hotel was already sold. And that is when he got married to the grandmother of Vincent who was at that time a farmer and found himself buying vines in spite of himself in order to help his friends who needed to sell some part of their vineyard. Eventually in 1945, the couple created their own brand of champagne…
The father of Vincent – Henri Brochet – was very close to the négociants : working, exchanging with them a lot. He chose to unionize himself rapidly and to buy more vines as well. As for his mother – Yvonne Hervieux from Sacy – she decided to buy barrels and a press in 1948 with her dowry – a press that is now in the tasting room turned into a beautiful table with view on the vines of the estate. In those days, the grand-father continued to vinify with Henri in order to pass on the know-how and work hand in hand with him. During the great years (around 1973), Henri understood the importance of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. The Ordre des Coteaux de Champagnes is the official fraternity of the major Champagne brands whose feature is to extols the wines of Champagne in general and in their diversity and for Henri it was time for the organisation to take a new dimension. The father of Vincent was a well-appreciated public man : president of Syndicat Général des Vignerons (union of winegrowers), active within the CIVC and the Champagne viticulture association. Adding to that, both the father and the grandfather of Vincent received the academic palms : the first one for his involvement in the profession – training and teaching a lot – and his grandfather for his private collections.
Today, Vincent Brochet is following the footsteps of Henri. Récoltant Manipulant since 1990 – producing champagnes under the Brochet-Hervieux label – he bought in 2010 the family estate, Domaine Les Croix. The property is built in larch with a swiss style : something that Vincent was looking for its rigor and austerity image. In 2012, he decided to use his own name and created Champagne Vincent Brochet.
Finally in 2014, Gaspard – last generation – came back after having forger himself a strong character through his own path and his experiences. A beautiful and happy reunion between Vincent and his son around wine. Together, they communicate enormously and take things further. Very discreet about his private life, Gaspard is also a graphic artist and he is the one who created all the visuals of the brand for a nice value-creation. Through his work with his father, he knew how to transpose the demanding nature of art. Gaspard is also passionate about the history of the Brochet family, going through the years of the family know-how. While he thought he would stop completely his winegrower activity at his 40th harvest, Vincent finally decided to work an other 10 years with his son. Together they think about new projects whether it be like going to Melbourne in 2017 or creating a new cuvée aged in oak barrel… The two men work in harmony, evolving together and learning from each other. Gaspard also brought his personal touch at the estate : ploughing the soil was his idea, he also decided to buy a new tractor on his arrival on the vineyard, … – he is very involved in the process from the vines to the wines.
Vincent’s wife is also very involved and passionate about champagne. She particularly likes to host with him. They just built a new reception room overlooking the vineyard – a plot that is just one month younger than Vincent : the historic 1959 plot. Orthodontist, she likes to say to Vincent :” we have the same job : we both make people smile”. The first year of their meeting, she helped in the vineyard and Vincent also willingly recognizes the importance of women in the work of winemakers and their success.
Vincent is also a public figure in Champagne, and he is highly involved in the interprofession. For this passionate winegrower, it should not be forgotten that the strength of Champagne is also the interprofessional cooperation and Vincent likes to talk about it. This is the reason why he followed the footsteps of his father becoming a member of the board of the Ordre des Coteaux since 1999. Pierre Cheval was his proposer for the entry just like his father initiated mister Cheval at his time. Vincent was elected with 100% of the votes for his entry and since then it is a real culture pleasure for the winemaker to be part of this fraternity living incredible moments. Volunteer fireman, treasury supervisor for the restoration of the church of Ecueil, political activist, twice deputy in the legislative elections, he made a triathlon for voluntary firefighters,… Multifaceted, he does what he loves and is very active. He dreamed of climbing the Mont Blanc like his father who opened a bottle at the top of the mountain. Instead, he realized – 3 times – one the his other dream : the historical rallye of Monte Carlo.
From the vines to the glass
Located in the nature reserve of the West Montagne de Reims, the 5 hectares of the estate of the family offer a sandy terroir with a quick maturation. It is those terroirs that give to the champagne its minerality. The average age of the vineyards is around 30 years and the main grape variety is the Pinots Noirs (78%). However, Vincent and Gaspard also have a little bit of Chardonnay (18%) as well as an island of Pinot Meuniers (7%). The 1er cru slopes of Ecueil benefit from a south, south-east exposure.
The work in the vineyard is very important for Vincent : his thing is the ground – zero weedkiller, use of the plow for the soil… The winegrower always implements what he always thought. Allergic to herbicides, it was logical for him to ban them from his approach. He chose the sustainable viticulture in order to respect the environment : Vincent speaks of a “clean culture”. The vineyard is controlled mechanically and hydraulically but also covered with grass – the natural vegetation improves the ripeness of the grapes as well as the soil structure and biodiversity. They also apply a severe cutting.
As for the vinification, the pneumatic press allows to preserve all the quality and freshness of the grapes. The juices then go in thermoregulated steel-vats where the malolactic fermentation occurs partially and is stopped for the vintage cuvées. The method of vinification at Champagne Brochet is slow and gentle in order to respect the character of the wines : 6 months before the wine are bottled in spring. The Brochet family is a vintage and extra-brut specialist ; Vincent enjoys single-year cuvées as each one of them is like a child for him that he is taking care of in order to honor his clients. In the Brochet family, it is considered that 6-8 years are necessary for the maturation of a great wine instead of the 15 months for the legislation. All the cuvées are very aromatic thanks to the major grape variety of the estate : the Pinot Noir.
For this big-hearted family, when you are a winemaker, you have to put your heart in your work. And another important part of Vincent’s job is to host people at the estate. Making a wine with his heart, creating value and staging it is essential for those winemakers who have a high opinion of champagne : “to open a good bottle must be an event, champagne is the wine that creates the greatest connection ; it is an emotion, a moment.” For Vincent, his work is to create the link between the bottle, the vine, the soil and hosting visitors at the estate is the bond beyond friendship that is why he enjoys so much receiving people just like his father used to do…
Contrary to the usual, it is not during the visit that we tasted the cuvées of Vincent Brochet but during their event to launch their new limited edition cuvée : Galactic by IEMZA & KSY. A real moment of sharing and emotions…
BRUT ROSE 1ER CRU
«Elegance and freshness»
This rosé is made of 85 % Pinot noir, 10 % Pinot meunier and 5 % Chardonnay blended with 10% of red wine from the estate. The dosage of 9 grams per liter allows to highlight the generosity of this 1er cru cuvée.
The color is a light and delicate copper pink. The nose is fresh with cherry and pear notes but also an elegant touch of blossom honey and brioche. The palate offers a great structure with exuberant aromas of red fruits and forest berries. The finish develops apple notes and a mineral touch. A rosé with a lot of freshness.
«Tonicity and complexity»
This cuvée of the estate Vincent Brochet stemming exclusively from the 2007 harvest is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. A crisp dosage of 3 grams per liter for this extra-brut highlight the tonicity of this champagne. A 1er Cru wine bottled during spring of 2008 and produced in limited quantity numbered from 1 to 2000.
The color is a pale gold. The nose is fresh and mineral with notes of maturity like candied pineapple and quince. Thanks to the low dosage of 3gr, the palate reveals a sensation of freshness with delicate and rich aromas of compote fruits. The finish is long and mineral. A tonic wine full of complexity.
2008 VINTAGE (MAGNUM)
«A great year in its best format»
A blend of 70 % Pinot noir and 30 % Chardonnay sublimed by a 8 grams per liter dosage. This vintage made from the great harvest of 2008 is aged 6-8 years in the cellar of the estate before its release – against 3 years minimum legal for vintages.
The straw-color of this wine is quite bright and pale. The nose offers dried fruit and roasted notes. The palate develops generous aromas of nuts and brioche but also brings soft spicy notes of cinnamon and vanilla. A great wine aged in magnum for its best expression.
BONUS : Galactic 1er Cru by IEMZA & KSY
Vincent and Gaspard chose two local street-artists to customize the label of the Galactic cuvée. IEMZA and KSY modernized the family coat and created a duet work of art. This limited edition – research of modernity – is a blend of 78% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 7% Pinot Meunier. Aged and vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks this cuvée is a non-vintage champagne with 45% of the harvest 2011, 65 % of 2010 and 2009. Vincent chose an extra-brut dosage (5gr/L) respecting the true character of this wine. A champagne aged 50 months sur lattes before being released. Only 1000 bottles available all numbered pieces.
The color is a pale straw-yellow with light silver glints. The nose is very expressive with a fresh minerality and fruity notes. The generous palate offers an elegant acidity with grapefruit and lime aromas. The mineral richness is also well-present on the palate bringing light iodine notes. A wine with a lot of vivacity.
Responsable : Vincent and Gaspard Brochet
Location : Ecueil (Montagne de Reims)
Majority grape variety : Pinot Noir
Other grape varieties : Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier,
Vineyard surface : 5 ha
CHAMPAGNE VINCENT BROCHET
28, rue de Villers-aux-Noeuds,