2017 PRINTEMPS DES CHAMPAGNES TASTING
The passion of the terroir and the diversity gather them together… Saturday 23rd of April, the group called Les Mains du Terroir de Champagne organized their 6th edition of their annual tasting. The opportunity to discover in a single place the diversity of terroirs represented within the association and to taste their champagnes as well as the clear wines of the last harvest which will define the trend of the future vintage. This year, the program included 2016 clear wines, flash tasting, mystery cuvées and much more…
Les Mains Du Terroir de Champagne 2017 tasting
The association of Les Mains du Terroir de Champagne is a group of 18 talented winegrowers who have at heart to share their passion. Proud of their terroir and its diversity, the 18 producers are very attentive to the environment and bear values of authenticity and respect for nature. In 2011, some friend winemakers from Champagne decided to invite together professionals to give them the experience of both their terroir and their know-how by discovering and tasting their wines. The group grew and two years later, created the association. Their goal is to have their know-how recognized but also to advocate values such as authenticity, sharing and conviviality. Representing a patchwork of the Champagne terroirs, Les Mains du Terroir de Champagne members craft quality champagnes and value deeply the diversity of the Appellation allowing each of them to express themselves through their wines.
This year, the tasting took place in an unique place located in the heart of Reims: the beautiful Salon Degerman. A site with a story intimately linked to the one of the city of Reims and to champagne. Built on 13 September 1900 by the great caterer, Mr Degermann, this residence of Art Deco style is a high place for gastronomy. A place for an event with a lot of intimacy, conviviality and excellence. Each of the members of the group chose among his cuvées to present a maximum of three champagnes and two clear wines of the 2016 harvest. However, each winemakers was also presenting a mystery cuvée : a champagne in a blind tasting sleeve that visitors could guess the label behind.
Flash tasting by Geoffrey Orban
For the visitors in a hurry, Geoffrey Orban from Educavin – a terroir specialist, French Ambassador and Vice-European Ambassador of Champagne in 2006 – was leading a flash tasting of one cuvée for each Champagne growers of the group. One by one the visitors discovered the wines suggested by each members, going through the Appellation and its terroirs. The opportunity to understand a little bit more the impact of the soils on the wines… With the tasting, we feel the fluidity, freshness, salinity and frankness of the wines coming from chalky soils. The Clay on the other hand, brings coating and patina. The grapes from sandy soils produce champagnes with a lot of fluidity, freshness and suppleness. Finally, the marl delivers density, structure and amplitude to the wines as well as – as Geoffrey demonstrate by banging together two marl fragments – smoky notes.
The tasting starts with 5 Chardonnay champagnes. The first one, a Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature from Montgenost and its chalky soils, Villenauxe-la-Grande and its marl and limestone soils, is elaborated by Marie Copinet. Griping on the palate, it is an intense wine with a real character and purity from the chalk. The second Blanc de Blancs – Roy Soleil of Philippe Gonet – is made from grapes coming from the chalky and silty soils of Montgueux and Les Mesnil-sur-Oger offering a mouth-filling attack with a great freshness and a beautiful structure. A frank, racy wine. From the chalky subsoil and clay-chalky soil of Chouilly, the Extra-Brut Réserve of the estate Vazart-Coquart develops fresh and tender chalky notes on the nose as well as a certain salinity. In Avize, Erick De Sousa elaborates Micorhize : a cuvée derived from the brown earth and chalky terroir of Avize. A persistant, iodic and radiant wine with a vibrant minerality and a generous finish. Last Blanc de Blancs : C. de Chardonnay of the estate Perseval-Farge in Chamery. An atypical Blanc de Blancs coming from a sandy and clay soils, offering a lot of freshness, directness, amplitude and suppleness.
The flash tasting continues with the LieuDit cuvées, starting in Bouzy with Champagne Maurice Vesselle and its cuvée “Les Hauts Chemin“: a 100% Pinot Noir 2007 vintage originated from the clay soil of the plot wearing the same name and offering a great minerality with salty and fresh almond notes. From Gouttes d’Or, a plot with clay soils in Pierry, Geoffrey presented the cuvée called Les Solistes Meunier 2012 from the estate JM Sélèque. This 100% Pinot Meunier vintage offered a fresh attack with vibrant floral and pure almond notes. Exclusively for the tasting, the new cuvée of the House Janisson Baradon in Epernay : 7C, is a plot blend with 15% of each of the 7 grape varieties grown in brown clay and chalky terroir. This full-bodied wine offers an expressive salinity and salty notes. Finally, from the estate Coessens in Ville-sur-Arce, Les Sens Boisés : a 100% Pinot Noir cuvée coming from the plot called Largillier with its marl and limestone soil and its Kimmeridgian subsoils. A single plot wine with a smoky and dry character as well as a elegant amplitude and complexity.
The exploration of the terroirs goes on with the cuvées made with a majority of Pinot Noir. The first one – Sélect – is coming from the estate Serge Mathieu in Avirey-Lingey ; a 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay from a terroir of marl full of nuances, offering candied fruit, ginger and smoky notes. From the chalky and clay soils of the House Gatinois, Geoffrey chose the Grand Cru tradition : a 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay cuvée developing apricot, marmelade notes and expressing the typicity of the terroir of Aÿ. TerroirEscence from Penet-Chardonnet in Verzy comes from chalky and clay soils as well. This 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay Grand Cru wine is long with a mineral finish and vanilla notes exalted by an elegant acidity. In the direction of Ambonnay, Paul Déthune produces a Brut Grand Cru – 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay – from his chalky and clay soils. The wine is vegetal with an elegant minerality and menthol notes. Same village, different style, the Dozage Zero of Eric Rodez is made with grapes cultivated on white and brown soils with chalk. The blend – 30% Chardonnay, 70% Pinot Noir – offers a full bodied, round and generous wine with a melted oak influence.
Last quartet of this flash tasting, Geoffrey kept some surprises… First, the Brut Carte Blanche from Maxime Blin in Trigny – a terroir with sand and clay soils. This 80 % Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir cuvée develops ripe, black fruits aromas with a soft structure and iodized notes. The following wine – a Brut Nature from the estate Lacourte-Godbillon in Ecueil – originate from a tuf terroir – offers a great salinity and sand minerality. The champagne is saline, ample and chiseled. Coming from a soil with the same limestone of the Reims cathedral but also sand and clay, the Brut 2009 vintage of the House Aspasie in Brouillet is a blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir and1/3 Pinot Meunier. The cuvée offers fruity sensations as well as iodized, vegetal and saline notes. Last but not least, Geoffrey pours a 1999 vintage from Champagne Fallet Dart in Charly-sur-Marne. Benefiting from a sandy and clay terroir, this 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir aged in oak has a lot of fleshiness and ripeness. A greedy cuvée expressing the typicity of clay.
Zoom in on 5 estates
Champagnes Gatinois, Paul Déthune, Aspasie, Maxime Blin, Coessens, Marie Copinet, De Sousa, Fallet-Dart, Philippe Gonet, Serge Mathieu, Janisson-Baradon, Lacourte-Godbillon, Penet-Chardonnet, Perseval-Farge, Eric Rodez, Jean-Marc Sélèque, Vazart-Coquart and Maurice Vesselle. It is in a friendly, convivial and welcoming atmosphere that each winegrower of the group presented his clear wines and champagnes paired with some amuse-bouche. Zoom in on 5 of the members and their wines.
Louis Cheval-Gatinois – A soul, a style, a name
One of the newbies this year within the association, Louis represents the 12th generation of the Champagne Gatinois estate. Located in the heart of the Cru of Aÿ, the winegrower uses an environmentally friendly viticulture on his 7 hectare vineyard revealing the chalky and clay character of his terroir. Major grape variety, the Pinot Noir brings power and elegance to the wines whereas the south exposure offers a lot of maturity to the champagnes. The cuvées have a lot of finesse and are well-balanced. Two 2016 clear wines. The first one a Pinot Noir of Aÿ : a light pink colored wine, taut, saline and fresh – and a Chardonnay of Aÿ plot “La Croix Courcelles” – ripe, fruity, round and elegant. As for the champagnes, the Gatinois Brut tradition – 80% of Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay – is profound and complex with a lot of freshness, roundness and fruity notes. The Gatinois Brut Rosé – 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay – is vinous and rich with black fruits notes and a delicate minerality. Finally, the Prestige Gatinois 2009 vintage – 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay – is a cuvée offering maturity, generosity and an expressive fruitiness for an elegant wine.
Serge Mathieu – Harmony of Pinot Noir
Located on the vineyard of Avirey-Lingey in the cop region since 1685, the family manages 11 hectares planted on Kimmeridgian soils. Michel and Isabelle are committed to preserve and respect the environment so to this purpose they chose an ecolo-pragmatic approach respecting the balance and the harmony of nature. Benefiting from a rich terroir, a great diversity of relief and exposure and using a plot-by-plot method, they create refined, harmonious and highly individual wines. The purity of taste is impressive. The Chardonnay 2016 clear wine is supple and mineral with ripe fruit notes whereas the Pinot Noir is well-balanced, fresh and mineral with a beautiful grape maturity. The first tasted champagne, La Commeliette – a new 2012 Blanc de Blancs available in 2017 – is expressive and elegant offering a lot of freshness, and roundness on the palate with yellow fruit notes. The Extra-Brut – a 100% Pinot Noir from the harvests of 2011 and 2012 – is mineral with notes of maturity and a fresh finish on the purity of the fruits. Finally, the 100% Pinot Noir 2009 develops freshness and vinosity with black fruits notes and a great mineral structure.
Perseval-Farge – Hand Craftsmanship
The Perseval-Farge family planted its first vineyard in Chamery in 1808. Isabelle and Benoist manage with respect and apply the HVE approach on this historic clay and sand vineyard creating champagnes with a lot of finesse and individuality from the infinite variations of terroir. The craftsmanship of the winemaking process allows to preserve authenticity and purity of the classic and old grape varieties. The wines are elegant, refined and particularly sharp. The winemakers presented two exclusivity as 2016 clear wines. The first one “Lieu-dit Les Spectres”, is a 100% Chardonnay. Ripe, expressive, mineral, smoky, fruity,… this single plot still wine is already very promising. The second, “Lieu-dit Les Goulats”, is a blend of old grape varieties and Chardonnay. It offers exotic and old grape varieties aromas with a delicate mineral touch. The champagnes are wearing the new and fresh label of the House. The tasting starts with Terre de Sables – 88% Chardonnay, 6% Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Meunier. A very fruity wine with candied apple and peach notes as well as maturity aromas. Complex and rich, C.de Chardonnay – a Blanc de Blancs – develops white flowers and pastry notes. Last but not least, 199 vintage 2007 – 43% Chardonnay, 57% Pinot Meunier – is a complex, fresh and aromatic wine with quince and tobacco notes.
Eric Rodez – Symphony of the aromas
Photograph, poet, winegrower, 8th and 9th generation on the estate, father and son work hand in hand. Located in Ambonnay, Eric and Mickael take care of their vineyard with origines dating back in 1757. Both organic and biodynamic viticulture come into effect in order to respect the environment and the terroir. Thanks to this approach, the winegrowers create wines with natural balance and generosity “letting the nature and grapes express their magic”. The champagnes are intense and generous : real pleasure wines. Regarding the clear wines, Empreinte Chardonnay is both fresh and expressive with maturity notes whereas Empreinte Pinot Noir offers deep and greedy notes. The champagne tasting starts with two new single plot cuvées. First, “Les Fournettes” – a 2009 Pinot Noir coming from a chalky terroir with south exposure – develops chalky minerality and an elegant vinosity as well as a generous fruitiness of Pinot Noir and candied notes. Other novelty, “Les Beurys Maceration” – a Pinot Noir 2009 but from a plot with east exposure. A delicate but bright wine with ripe berry notes and minerality on the finish. Empreinte Chardonnay 2004 – also delicate – offers an harmonious vinosity, an elegant maturity and minerality. Finally, a little extra, with a 2002 Chardonnay vintage : a generous and fine champagne with still a lot of freshness and expressing power of the Pinot Noir, infusion and pastry notes.
Paul Déthune – A continuing story between tradition and modernity
On the edge of Montagne de Reims in Ambonnay. Sophie et Pierre Dethune estate dates back to 1610. The winegrowers cultivates 7 hectares with care : sustainable viticulture and production, they uses an approach between tradition and modernity. The chalky terroir with clay and limestone produces a refined aromatic complexity. The wines are rich and opulent expressing the richness of the terroir. The tasting starts with the clear wines of the last harvest : a Blanc de Noirs “Les Crayères” with its ripe texture and freshness. A well-balanced still wine. And a Blanc de Blancs “Les Secs” : a crispy and complex clear wine with a lot of finesse. For the champagnes, the Brut Grand Cru cuvée – 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay – is complex and toned with woody notes as well as a chalky minerality. The Blanc de Noirs Les Crayères 2013 – a 100% Pinot Noir – is round, rich and voluptuous with spicy notes and a delicate vinosity. Finally, the Prestige cuvée – 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay – develops candied fruit notes and is complex, sharp and elegant.
As usual, Les Mains du Terroir de Champagne group offered us a prestigious tasting in a convivial, sharing atmosphere. A moment of pleasure for professionals.