Passion Chardonnay – Printemps des champagnes 2017


For this year Printemps des champagnes week, the 10 winegrowers of the association of Passion Chardonnay organized on the 25th of April their annual tasting. The opportunity for the professionals to discover the multiple facets of the Chardonnay through the still wines of the last harvest bu also with the cuvées of each members of the group.

Passion Chardonnay – the art to craft Blanc de Blancs

One grape variety, a common sedimentary crust composing their terroirs – chalk – but with multiple variation for a great range of identities… The association called Passion Chardonnay regroups 10 talented winegrowers who share the same philosophy : ” to take us on a journey through the universe of Chardonnay champagnes and the expression of their terroirs”. Each one of the members interpret the different facets of the white grape variety and its land thanks to a dedicated and precise approach combined with a true passion of their work.

2016 still wine tasting with Geoffrey Orban

Once again this year, the winegrowers of the association trusted Geoffrey Orban – a terroir specialist, French Ambassador and Vice-European Ambassador of Champagne in 2006 – to present the still wines of the 2016 harvest. The opportunity for the visitors from all over the world to have a better understanding of the influence of the conditions of one year on the wines as well as to discover the revelation of the terroir minerality through the tasting…

From Champagne Henriet-Bazin in Villers-Marmery, Geoffrey presented a pure Chardonnay from the Lieudit Basses Allouettes and its silty and gravelly soils with its chalky subsoil. The wine is taut and frank offering a vegetal character with a lot of freshness and green apple notes. Not very far, from the Lieudit called Trottiere in the village of Trépail, the thicker character of the chalk brings a totally different expression to the Blanc de Blancs of the House Bertemes. The vin clair develops grapefruit, peach and fresh grape aromas with vegetal and green apple notes. A generous and full-bodied wine. Future 2016 vintage of the estate Lilbert and coming from two lieux-dits in CramantTerres des Buissons and Moyens du Levant – with its silty and chalky soils,  the clear wine of the House is creamy and well-balanced between freshness and maturity but also offers floral and fruity notes.

On the terroir of Chouilly, Pierre Legras chose to present the vin clair of its future Partelaines Vintage but also the Grand Cru blending cuvée. Coming from the Lieudit called Derrière Partelaines and its marl soils, the wine offers a delicate minerality with licorice notes and crispness of the fruit. For the estate Guiborat – also located in Chouilly – the 2016 Vintage Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut clear wine from the Lieudit of Mont-Aigu with its silty and sandy soils brings fresh grape, chlorophyll and mineral notes as well as an elegant freshness. From Champagne Philippe Glavier in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the clear wine of Mesnil Emotion, Grace D’Alphael and Genesis cuvées coming from the marl soils of the Lieudit Hauts d’Allerands is very well-balanced with a  frank, saline and marine character as well as a certain generosity. As for Champagne André Jacquart in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the Millésime Experience Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is coming from the Lieudit Chétillons and its marl soils with chalky subsoils. A still wine with a smooth nose with lemon and rose notes as well as a palate with green apple and lemon aromas but also a stony minerality.

Produced from the estate of Veuve Fourny et fils in Vertus, the Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs comes from Rendzine soils of a Lieudit called Mont Ferré. Once again, the tasting brings a different mineral expression of the chalk. The nose is delicate and the palate offers lemon, fruity sharpness with a nice length. Located in Bassuet –  in the low slopes of the Côteaux Vitryat – Champagne Bolieu chose its vin clair for the future Fleur de craie cuvée, A frank wine coming from the chalky terroir of its Lieudit called Les Loges and developing an exotic character including apple, pineapple and peach aromas. Finally, from Champagne Velut in Montgueux, Geoffrey offered the 2016 vintage coming from the clay soils and chalky subsoils of the Lieudit Haut revers du chutat, A pure still wine revealing shaded spicy notes with a siliceous finish and a minerality on the chalk.

Through the tasting Geoffrey explained that chalk brings a dry sensation on the top of palate from the middle palate to the finish and a tactile minerality easy to feel. However, it is essential to specify that a large variety of chalk exists – especially in the Champagne region. Each of them bringing a different olfactive and gustative minerality : humide chalk, stony chalk, creamy or milky chalk, iodine, Carensac licorice, pepper, fluidity, frankness, salinity,,… A wide range of mineral sensations clearly perceptible during the still wine tasting as well as during the discovery of the cuvées of each of the winegrowers…

Chardonnay cuvée tasting

From Champagne Bertemes in the village of Trépail in the Montagne de Reims, Fabrice Bertemes – 4th generation of the estate – takes care of 4 hectares of vineyard. The winegrower chose a sustainable viticulture to preserve and highlight the quality of his precious terroir made of thick chalk. The Brut Tradition cuvée – a 100% Chardonnay with a base of 2013 and 20% of reserve wines in Solera – is fresh, generous and well-balanced with a good length as well as a grapefruit and plum fruitiness. The Extra-Brut on the other hand – a Blanc de Blancs with a  base of 2009 and 15% of reserve wines in Solera – is vinous, saline and taut with cocoa notes and an intense minerality. Finally, the 2012 Blanc de Blancs – a vintage exclusively from the 2012 harvest and its winter and spring frosts, its severe rains and its early august sunshine – offers an elegant maturity and acidity as well as a good balance between fruitiness and vinosity.

Charles and Laurence Baffard represent the 3rd generation of Champagne Bolieu in Bassuet. The estate is composed of not less than 6,5 hectares of vineyard with chalky terroirs and is managed following a sustainable viticulture. The Fleur de Craie cuvée – a 100% Chardonnay wine with 30% of reserve wines and coming from the terroirs of the Lieudit of Les Loges and Fossé in Bassuet – develops licorice aromas with a creamy structure and a light tension on the finish. L’instant B 2008 – a 2008 Chardonnay vintage from the terroirs of Les Mignoquettes in Lisse en Champagne – is more exotic, frank and generous with a thick structure. To finish, Carnet de Léone – a 100% Chardonnay champagne with 15% of reserve wines in Solera and from the terroir of Les loges in Bassuet – is elegant, well-structured with a lot of freshness and minerality on the finish.

At Champagne Philippe Glavier in Cramant, Philippe and Véronique Glavier – respectively 3rd and 12th generation of grower of their family – create together only mono-grape variety champagnes. Their vineyard is spread over 4,40 hectares of a terroir with clay and chalk soil over chalk sub-soil. La grâce d’Alphaël is a zéro dosage cuvée with a base of 2013 and 30% of reserve wines. A delicate and fresh blanc de blancs with marine and white flower notes. As for Genesis – a 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru wine coming from Mesnil, Avize and Oger, and with a base of 2014 and 30% of reserve wines – is more complex with butter and vinous notes. Finally, Folie de Cramant 2011 in magnum – a 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru vintage from Cramant – develops complex, well-balanced mocha and coffee aromas melted with vinous and woody notes.

Located in the Côte des Blancs on the chalky terroir of the village of Cramant, Champagne Guiborat Fils is managed by Karine and Richard Fouquet. Richard represents the 5th generation of growers in charge of the 8-hectares family estate. The Prisme 11 cuvée – a Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru extra-brut wine from the 2011 harvest with 11% of reserve wines – is generous, fruity and complex with an elegant minerality whereas the 2010 vintage – a Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru extra-brut wine from 2010 harvest ; a year with a lack of sun and rain in august – is fresh and mineral with chlorophyl notes. To finish the tasting, the Prisme 06 cuvée in magnum – a Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru extra-brut champagne from the 2006 harvest with 12% of reserve wines – is delicate, complex and light with a nice, well-balanced and long finish.

At Champagne Henriet Bazin in Villers-Marmery, Marie Noëlle Rainon-Henriet – 4th generation on the estate – works hand in hand with her husband Nicolas. Together, they take care of a total of 7,5 hectares of chalk outcrop and gravel of chalk terroirs divided as follow : 3 hectares in Villers-Marmery, 3 hectares in Verzenay and Verzy and 1,5 hectares in Faverolles and Coemy, The Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs cuvée  – made of 20% of reserve wines in Solera and coming from Villers-Marmery with east exposure – offers a nice balance with a lot of generosity and freshness. The nose presents a creamy character with a light vinosity whereas the palate develops a beautiful minerality. As for the Fût de Chêne Blanc de Blancs 2010 vintage – coming only from Villers-Marmery with east exposure and aged in oak barrels made with wood from the forest of Verzy -, the aging in oak brings fineness and complexity as well as a full-bodied structure which elegantly highlights the saline character. Finally, the 1998 vintage – coming from Villers-Marmery with an east exposure – develops butter, mushroom and underwood notes with a lot of freshness.

Located in the village of Vertus in the Côte des Blancs, Champagne André Jacquart is managed by Marie Doyard, 5th generation of winegrower in her family. The winegrower manages an estates of 24 hectares including 16 on the chalky terroirs of Vertus and Mesnil sur Oger. Marie chose a sustainable viticulture to value the qualities of the terroirs of her vineyard. The 100% Chardonnay cuvée of the estate – a 1er Cru champagne with a base of 2011 and 40% of reserve wines – offers complexity, smoothness and generosity with brioche, butter as well as woody notes. The cuvée called Mesnil Experience – a Chardonnay champagne coming from the chalky soils of Mesnil sur Oger and made with a 2008 base and 20% of reserve wines –  develops an elegant acidity with an intense minerality well-balanced with the aging in oak. The last champagne of the tasting was the 2008 vintage – a Chardonnay from the harvest 2008 – : a well-balanced wine developing lemon and citrus notes but also showing a nice potential through its elegant acidity.

From the village of Chouilly,  Marcelline and Vincent Legras were representing Champagne Pierre Legras, It has been more than 10 generations that the family is looking after the 10-hectares estate including 7 hectares of Chardonnay in Chouilly and 3 hectares in Epernay, Vinay, Moussy and Boursault. The sustainable viticulture has been chosen to preserve the quality of the exceptional chalky terroir of this family estate. The Blanc de Blancs champagne – coming from Chouilly with a 2013 base and 43% of reserve wines – is showing a nice balance with a generous freshness and a delicate minerality whereas the Cuvée Spéciale – a 2010 vintage  from Chouilly – is developing ripe yellow fruit nots with a light woody and vinous character. As for the 2006 vintage from the Lieu-dit Partelaine – a 100% 2006 harvest wine from Chouilly – brings coffee, mocha and roasted notes balanced with an elegant freshness.

At Champagne Lilbert & Fils in Cramant, it is Bertrand Lilbert – 5th generations on the estate – who manages the 3,5 hectares of vines rooted in the chalky terroir of the villages of Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry. Bertrand has a great respect for his family terroir and this is the reason why the winemaker chose a sustainable viticulture for his vineyard. The Non Vintage Brut champagne – a 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru wine made of 50% of the 2013 harvest and 50% of reserve wines – is floral and elegant with vinous and buttered notes. The Perle cuvée – a 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru champagne with a base of 2013 with 35% of reserve wines – is more vinous and powerful with elegant woody notes. The last wine, Pur Cramant 2010 vintage – a 100% Chardonnay wine from Cramant Grand Cru – offers delicate butter and brioche notes with an elegant freshness on the finish.

Benoit Vélut from Champagne Jean Vélut in Montgueux, works closely with his father Denis who took over the estate after his parents. Benoit takes care of the 7,7 hectares of vineyard of the family lying on a terroir with deep chalk. The Lumière et craie cuvée – a 100% Chardonnay reserve wine champagne coming from the village Montgueux – is well-balanced with a lot of freshness and minerality but also expressing butter and iodic notes. Témoignage 2008 – a 100% Chardonnay wine from the 2008 harvest in Montgueux – offers yellow fruit and almond aromas with a lightly spicy and pure character. As for the Patience Brut Nature cuvée – a 100% reserve-wines champagne from Montgueux – brings coffee notes and aromas of maturity with a lot of freshness and fineness.

We finish the tasting with Champagne Vve Fourny & Fils from the village of Vertus of the Côte des Blancs. Charles-Henry et Emmanuel represent the 5th and new generation of the family estate. Together the two brothers manage the 23 hectares of vineyard lying on a Redzine over chalk terroir. Their Pur Vertus Blanc de Blancs cuvée – a blend of 3 vintages with 20% of reserve wines and different vinifications – is pure with a delicate and precise tension but also with a fruity character. As for the Mont de Vertus 2011 vintage – a year with a quite late harvest -, the wine presents an elegant minerality and salinity with more complex notes like licorice and roasted nut aromas. Finally the champagne called Cuvée R : this homage to the father Roger is made 100% in oak barrels and blend two consecutive harvest. The wine offers the complexity of the aging in oak with mineral and vanilla notes as well as a certain maturity and opulence.

The professionals from all over the world got a real pleasure to discover the high-quality cuvées from the association of Passion Chardonnay through the tasting of this year champagne week. The opportunity for them to understand a little bit more as well the influence of the chalk thanks to the vins clairs tasting with Geoffrey Orban.


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