April 16, 2018 – In the historic Palais du Tau of the City Reims, just next to the Cathedral, the association of winegrowers called Terres et Vins de Champagne organized their annual Printemps des Champagnes tasting. A special event for the group, as they were celebrating their 10 year anniversary on the top of the 2017 vins clairs and champagnes tasting.
“Happy Birthday Terres & Vins de Champagne“
10 years, 10 candles, one BIG inflatable cake and an endless number of bubbles … No doubt, the pioneers or pathfinders of the Printemps des Champagnes know how to celebrate and to show their wines in the best light… On the April 15, the birthday dinner took place at the one and only Assiette Champenoise – the 3 Michelin Star restaurant of Champagne – with the prestigious Chef Arnaud Lallement who received his Terres & Vins 2017 award last year – a prize rewarding actors contributing to the radiance of the wines of the Champagne region. There, it started with the Boule de Feu brass band which beats strangely remind the off the beaten track style of the winemakers of the group. Music, 3 Michelin Star dishes escorted the 2008 vintage champagnes from rigorous winemakers, who do not need any introduction anymore…
The story begun in 2009, when Terres et vins de Champagne decided to create a groundbreaking and educational tasting. The purpose of those events was to enlighten the professionals about their wines by taking the time to explain their philosophy, their viticultural approach as well as their terroir through a tasting of their mineral vins clairs and champagnes, in a world where marketing leads the market for wrong reasons. So yes, Terres et Vins de Champagne is kind of the “troublemaker of the champagne classroom” but only for the pleasure of the professionals and epicurean who wants to go beyond the trends launched only to sale more product – but make no mistake, it does not mean for all that, that they desacralize the vin de Champagne. For 10 years now, the winemakers reinvent their tasting sharing their know-how, their commitment and their passion with a lot of conviviality.
The association numbers 23 members all appearing on the poster of this year event but with fewer years : Pascal Agrapart / Françoise Bedel / Raphaël and Vincent Bérèche / Delphine Richard-Boulard / Emmanuel Brochet / Alexandre Chartogne / Vincent Couche / Laure and Pascal Doquet / Jean Baptiste Geoffroy / Etienne Goutorbe / Olivier Horiot / Cyril Jeaunaux / Benoît Lahaye / Aurélien Laherte / Vincent Laval / David Léclapart / Marie-Noëlle Ledru / Dominique Moreau / Franck Pascal / Olivier Paulet / Fabrice Pouillon / Aurélien Suenen / Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant.
2017 Vin Clair tasting
Monday 16, 10 a.m, the doors of the Palais du Tau open for the first step of this morning with Terres et Vins de Champagne : the discovery of the 2017 vins clairs. The tasting reveals wines with a lot of potential and an elegant vintage in prospect. Zoom in on 5 winegrowers…
From Buxeuil, Vincent Couche cultivates an estate using Biodynamic methods and extending over 13 hectares on the terroirs of Buxeuil and Montgueux in the heart of the Côtes de Bar.
The Pinot Noir from the lieu-dit Champ Persin in Buxeuil – a clay and limestone terroir from the Kimméridgien period, very little intervention during the winemaking process and vinification in oak – is generous, balanced and mineral with a nice fruitiness. The Pinot Noir from the Lieu-dit Val Parfonde in Buxeuil – same type of terroir but with a more important part of clay – is more structured and opulent with a light effervescence on the palate and the elegant power of the Pinot Noir. Finally, the Chardonnay from the lieu-dit La Voie Creuse in Montgueux – chalk and flint soils from the Cretaceous period – is frank, mineral as well as complex and structured with vanilla, smoky and spicy notes from the flint.
Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy looks after the family estate located in Cumières in the heart of the Vallée de la Marne and chose to keep the interventions to a minimum to respect his terroir spread over Damery, Hautvillers, Fleury-la-Rivière and Cumières. The 14 hectares of vineyard are divided into 35 plots offering a great diversity to the winemaker.
Volupté – 100% Chardonnay from 2017 coming from 2 plots in Cumières, one close to HautVillers and the other between Cumières and Damery, vinified 100% in diverse oak and the malolactic fermentation carried out at 100% – is taut with the subtle delicateness of the oak and offers a beautiful balance with white flower aromas and a light salinity on the finish. Empreinte – 100% Pinot Noir from 2017 exclusively from Cumières, vinified in oak, no malolactic fermentation and 100 hectoliters vinified on lees – brings frankness, power and a beautiful mineral expression with a delicate acidity and light woody notes. The Rosé de saignée – 100% Pinot Noir from 2017 exclusively from Cumières with 25 days of maceration and only a small part of the wines vinified in oak – is fruity, delicate and mineral with generous red fruit aromas.
Located in Bouzy on the area of the Montagne de Reims, Valérie and Benoît Lahaye farm a total of five hectares spread over the villages of Bouzy, Ambonnay and Tauxières-Mutry, They cultivate their land biodynamically using plants and minerals to protect their vineyard and the biodiversity.
The Blanc de Blancs 2016-2017 from Les Monts Ferrés – 100% Chardonnay vinified without any sulfur – is expressive, taut and mineral with white peach, peer and white flower aromas. Violaine 2017 from Les Argentières – 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, vinified without added sulfur and the malolactic ongoing – is powerful, elegant and mineral with saline notes as well as a light effervescence. The Blanc de Noirs 2017 from Les Cercets – 100% Pinot Noir with a minimum of added sulfur – is highly mineral and offers a nice acidity with vegetal and white fruit aromas.
Sensitive winegrower of Trépail in the Montagne de Reims, David Léclapart watches over only 2.97 hectares of vineyard divided into 22 plots exclusively located on Trépail. A precious and rare terroir of chalk and marl protected by this conscientious winegrower who puts the biodynamic methods into practice since 1998 but also much more : a Nature approach.
The Aphrodisiaque 2017 vin clair – 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, 100% vinified in barrels and the only cuvée for David this year – is very elegant with light effervescence and salinity on the palate as well as a delicate acidity and a beautiful fruitiness – fresh fruit, just like if you would munch in a juicy bunch of grapes.
Mélanie and Benoît Tarlant are located in Oeuilly where brother and sister take care together of the 14 hectares spread over 55 parcels located in the villages of Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé. Their terroir offers chalky, Sparnacien (clay-limestone), sandy, limestone, small pebbles soils preserved thanks to a viticulture is guided by nature and the development of biodiversity.
Notre Dame – 100% Pinot Meunier from limestone soils of the Lutétien period in Celles-lès-Condé, vinified in Kvevri (Georgian clay jar) for the first year, spontaneous fermentation, without malolactic, future Argilité #6 cuvée – is taut, frank and mineral with white pepper, saline and pear notes. Ilot des Sables – ungrafted Chardonnay planted in sandy-siliceous terroirs, vinified in burgundy barrels, spontaneous fermentation with plot yeasts but without malolactic fermentation, future La vigne d’Antan cuvée – is fruity, taut and mineral revealing the beautiful maturity of the grapes at the harvest. Les Crayons – Pinot Noir from Oeuilly and it soils of chalk from the Campanienne period, vinified in Burgundy barrels, spontaneous fermentation without malolactic fermentation – brings power, elegance and salinity with chalky notes.
The tasting of the 2017 vins clairs shows the rigor of the viticulture and vinification of the members of the association but the effervescence lovers champed at the bit for the first bubbles. Their wait is rewarded when at 11:30 the bell rung : the time of the champagne had finally come. While the 23 winegrowers opened the bottles, the eyes of some tasters finally start to sparkled.
Let’s pop the cork
Once the bubbles flowing in the glasses, it is time for me to run back to the first table and taste the champagnes of the winemakers, the opportunity to exchange more about their philosophy and their approach.
Attentive, passionate and definitively in love with his lands, Vincent Couche creates elegant, terroir-driven and harmonious wines.
The first champagne, Chloé – 66% Pinot Noir and 34 % Chardonnay, a blend of harvests 2011 and 2012 vinified in barrels without dosage and added sulfur – is rich, chalky and generous with intense ripe fruit aromas highlighted by an elegant freshness on the finish. The ADN Montgueux 2009, a Brut Nature Vintage – 100 % chardonnay from the chalky soils of Montgueux, vinified in oak barrels without added sulfur – offers complexity and elegance with honey, mineral and generous fruit aromas. Finally, the Sensation 1999 vintage – 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay exclusively from the 1999 harvest – brings candied blackberry and raspberry notes melted with apricot aromas as well as a vibrant minerality.
At Champagne Geoffroy, Jean-Baptiste a generous, dedicated and jolly winemaker crafts delicate, refined cuvées with an generous freshness from the highly individuality of his terroir.
The Empreinte 2012 vintage – 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay disgorged specially for the event – offers an highly expressive minerality and a nice tautness with generous vegetal and flower notes. The Terre Extra-Brut 2006 vintage – 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir (no rules for the blending from one year to another) without cold stabilisation, aged under cork and a very small production – is generous, complex and subtle with fresh bread and mineral notes as well as with an elegant freshness and vinosity on the finish. As for the Blanc de Rose Extra-Brut 2012 vintage – co-Maceration of Pinot Noir (50%) and Chardonnay (50%) together with immersed cap in open oak vats – reveals a balance between the exotic character and the minerality from the terroir with pink grapefruit, lychee and chalky minerality notes as well as rose and orange zest aromas.
Generous, innovative and passionate, Valérie and Benoît Lahaye have at heart to share their approach and create harmonious, mineral and strong personality champagnes.
The non-vintage Blanc de Blancs – a single plot cuvée and a blend of the harvests of 2014 and 2015 – is generous, mineral and fresh with an elegant frankness on the finish. The Violaine 2013 vintage – 50% Chardonnay and 50 Pinot Noir vinified without sulfur – brings yellow flower, vegetal and mineral notes with a lot of freshness on the finish. Finally, the Blanc de Noirs 2014 – 100% Pinot Noir from 3 plots located in Bouzy – develops a beautiful maturity, frankness and power from the Pinot Noir as well as white flower and black berry aromas.
Humble, atypical and strong-willed, David Léclapart has become a well-known figure of the biodynamic approach in Champagne. He crafts highly individual, well-balanced and profound wines for connoisseurs with great aging potential.
The Aphrodisiaque 13 – 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, 100% in oak barrel – is intense, elegant and vibrant with pure chalky and savory brioche notes. The Artiste 2009 – 100% Chardonnay from two selected parcels in Trépail, vinified 50% in oak and 50% in steel tank – is complex, ample and rich with citrus and floral aromas whereas the Artiste 2011 -100% Chardonnay from two selected two plots from Trépail as well but exclusively from 2011 harvest and 50% vinified in oak, 50% in steel tanks – is complex, vinous and fresh with vegetal and woody notes.
No doubt, when you glimpse Mélanie and Benoît Tarlant it is easy to know they are cheerful, but they are also innovative, generous and deeply attached to their land. Together, they craft elegant, fresh and pleasure wines with a great expression of terroir.
The Argilité cuvée – 50% Meunier and 50% Chardonnay from 2012, vinified in amphore and without dosage – is mineral, round and fresh at the same time and offers beautiful aromas of Meunier – yellow plum and stewed fruit – as well as a light and elegant tautness. La Vigne d’Antan cuvée – 100% ungrafted Chardonnay from sandy soils of Oeuilly and exclusively from the 2004 harvest, vinified in oak barrels on lees without malolactic fermentation and no dosage – offers plum and mirabelle plum aromas with nice acidity and light fresh butter notes. The finish unveils elegant saline notes. Finally, L’Etincelante – a 2002 Prestige vintage and a Brut Nature cuvée – is structured and mineral with a beautiful frankness as well as levain and brioche notes.
It would be easy to spend the rest of the day taking a sunbathing and exchanging with the winemakers of the group on the patio of the Palais du Tau… This year again, the group continued to raise the level.
See you next year Terres & Vins and as we say ” The best is yet to come”…