VISIT AND TASTING AT CHAMPAGNE CLÉMENT LECLERE
In the wake of great figures like David Léclapart, Benoit Tarlant, Champagne reveals a very inspired young generation. Clément Leclere, the winemaker of the Leclere-Minard estate is one of those to follow very, very closely!
4th generation of growers on the family Domain, which began in 1922 in Courmas ; now settled in “his” Champagne on a humble 2.3-hectare estate, Clément is a discreet producer who strives to make his various terroirs resonate in the bottle thanks to very rigorous viticulture. No wonder that he knows every inch, every vine of his lands. In the cellar, he experiments, but his risks are calculated. He is precise, but also listens to his instincts. He does not hesitate to be outside the box. His name is already whispered as one of the next talents in Champagne as Clément makes brilliant wines, never forgetting to put things into perspective, with his feet firmly rooted in his soil and never losing sight of where he comes from. Still or sparkling, its wines are pure, free, instinctive. In Coulommes-la-Montagne, up the hill crowned with forest – which locally is called “Mountain” – where the landscape plays hide and seek in the banks of mist during cold weather seasons, we followed the young and promising winegrower step by step in his vineyards. The opportunity to look back on his story and to learn a bit more about his philosophy and his vision for the estate. So forget the clichés about “small” or “big” Appellations. All that matters is the work done at the Domain level.
A ROAD PAVED WITH NATURE INTENTION
The wine story of the family dates back to 1922 in Courmas. But for Clément, the story telling starts in a village called Coulommes-la-Montagne. To understand the wines, let’s take a look at the guy’s heritage and the journey that brought him just where he is now and where he will be tomorrow…
The vineyard comes from the Minards’ side – Clément’s mother. The very first vines of the family were acquired by the great-great-grandfather in 1922. “The Lucien” as he is called, was only growing grapes and selling them to the champagne brands – but still, he had his own wine press. In the 1950s, Clément’s grandfather, René, took over and decided to start making his own champagne and to commercialize it in the 60’s. He did that for 20-30 years before came the turn of Clément’s parents. Different vision, different desire to work lead the vineyard – originally composed of 6ha – to be split in two. As Clément’s uncle therefore stayed in Courmas with the cellar and the press, his parents came to settle here, on the lands of Coulommes-la-Montagne in the 90’s. His father was more interested in the vineyard – the wine did not attract him too much – the cooperative was therefore a logical choice. 1990’s is also the date on which Coulommes also became a Premier Cru… But to tell the truth, Premier Cru, all that, does not really matter for Clément.
So, the family works with 2.30 ha – 2.27 to be exact – mainly planted in Meunier.
2.27 ha – 5,6 acres – enough to craft precise and highly individual wines, but not enough to invest a lot. Never mind… his parents made the choice to produce their own wines anyway, using 50% of the harvest and selling the other 50% to brands. Working together on the estate, both his parents encouraged Clément all along to go on his own sweet way – there is no point in returning too early to the family vineyard while they are there.
Thereby, the young winegrower starts his studies in accounting and goes abroad with a first experience in Australia. When he comes back, he does not yet know what he wants to do, he takes a new look at his path… After carefully thought through, he goes for a wine diploma with a degree in law of Wine & Spirits to come back in the wine business. As Law did not appeal to him that much, he chose to do his internship in Saint-Émilion in a wine merchant, where he stayed 6 months. It’s a real trigger for him ; he repeats the experience, for one year this time. Meanwhile, a personal matter blocks him for a while and already makes him question the methods of viticulture and winemaking. In 2014, he continued his route with an experience in Paris in a 100% organic wine shop. He likes the job, learns a lot from his manager. Mondays, it’s fair day, enough to be going in depth and learning a lot about tasting. Clément trained himself, including the study of wine and cheese pairings.
If he was already selling a lot of organic wines in Saint-Émilion – and notably organic Pomerol – even though there weren’t too many of them in Bordeaux in those days ; yet, he was sensing the influence of a job well done… 2014 : at the time, his palate was mainly familiar with Bordeaux wines. As a Champenois, he is asked to do trade fair back in the region. Going from one event to another, and by talking, exchanging according to the encounters with the artisans of the region, he not only discover a little more how the winegrowers work, but he knows it now ; he wants to go back to the family estate, make wine and do everything, taking care of the soils and the vines, making wines. It is now time for him to start his own experiences as well as to prepare for the transition with his parents before their retirement.
He chose a 2-year work training BPREA – Professional Certification of Agricultural Management – and started to look for job. Big names in Champagne said yes to take but only for the vineyard part. Clément wants the full experience though. He wants to discover everything ; not just being an employee, but to understand the ins and outs. He was then dispirited, finding nothing else… At that point, he applied to one of the big group present on the Champagne lands BPREA program. There, somebody warned him: “it is cold in winter in the vineyard!”. As he got called back for a second interview, his research also led him to David Léclapart.
Before meeting Clément, David was not up for it “the work training, been there, done that, and it did not go very well“. But Clément does not give up. He explained that wants to learn, and he has an estate to take over: the future young winegrower is motivated! David told him to come by in 2 days to discuss… That day, Clément stayed 3 hours on the spot, where he tasted the wines, David observed him, asking him his perception. David’s champagnes: a big hit ! The still wines? Clément had already tasted some, but not of this level: it’s a big hit too! The two men talked about anything and everything. Clément left, but did not wait long, David called him back the day after: it’s a yes! While fishing in the tarn with the Chamery gang, the big brand called him back; they want to take him but the winemaker had already made his mind up : he wants to work with David who has an organic approach and who also has roughly the same area of vineyard than his family estate. He is positive, he will learn a lot more. The recruiter was surprised: no one ever made her that one !
To this day, Clément considers himself lucky. His part-time internship, he did it at Champagne David Léclapart from 2015-2017 ; as the only employee there, he learned a lot alongside the winegrower. From the first weeks, David took time for him, together they made the 500P during the fall – biodynamic preparation. In 2016, the harvest was complicated : it gave birth to Aphrodisiaque 2016, the second vintage of the winegrower for this unique cuvée. If he did not touch a lot to the wines, Clément learned a lot : disgorgement, regular tastings… David shared and transmitted him a lot. He explained to Clément his perception of things. Much more than just an employee, he was completely integrated ; Sometimes, the two men sat in the vineyard and discussed for half an hour about David and his experiences… Clément keeps excellent memories from this period : what an experience from a human point of view, open-mindedness ! David is a real character, he will always remain his mentor. Even today, the two men stays in touch and continue to exchange regularly.
After this experience, Clément wanted to learn more before returning to his estate. He wanted to go off to discover other wine region for a full time, but not too far. So he contacted people in Burgundy and Jura – but the vineyard having suffered a big frost in 2016, they weren’t hiring anyone. Beginning to look back in Champagne, Julien Guillot from Domaine des Vignes du Maynes located in the Mâconnais area, called him back and offered him a position.
Located in the Mâconnais in Cruzille – above Pouilly Fuissé – the place is magnificent. The vineyard of Julien, an 8ha clos, all plots next to each other, offers an incredible biodiversity. The winegrower is also a real character – he did theatre before making wine ; Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot, his wines are pretty crazy and impressive, explained Clément. Besides, David is a great friend of Julien and confirmed him that he will have a great experience there.
He stayed there for 1 year – from August 2017 to August 2018. A big experience indeed ! Living on site, he was not counting his hours – 8 am-11pm sometimes 1am : wine and passion do not wait. The experience was very educational for him. They were only 4-5 employees and from the first harvest, he was in the winery and thus began to learn about wines – white wines à la bourguignonne, red wines, single plot wines and macerations. He did some mistakes, but that’s also the way to learn. Working fast, working well, working under pressure and under the supervision of the person in charge of the winery, a Canadian, he learned a lot and she made him taste a lot. Moreover, Julien knows smart set so Clément thus had the chance to meet the somewhat the leading light winegrowers of the Mâconnais – the Soufrandière, the Bret-brothers, Robert-Denogent, Château des Rontets… such open people. He met great people there. As for the wine side, he tasted amazing things. Super happy with this experience, Clément often returns there for barrels, bottles or simply to spend the weekend there, on the lands of the Mâconnais.
But if he learned a lot there, it is his next experience that taught him everything about winemaking, at the Tarlant ‘s. He came back in Champagne in August 2018 looking for a part-time to start taking over his family estate during the 2018 vintage and thus continuing to learn. At that time, Benoit and Mélanie Tarlant were looking for someone to give them an helping hand on the estate. He is hesitant : 15ha is a far cry from the size of his family vineyard. He made up his mind and went there: “a part-time? no problem !” He started directly during and with the harvest. Benoît told him: “you rack that vat, that vat, that vat …” At that point, he had only racked once in Burgundy, but Benoît trusted him and Iréne – an oenologist Italian who had been on the estate for 2-3 years guides and helped him. A real team support was taking place. And all this during the 2018 harvest! which means quantity, quantity and quantity. Marcs kept coming, he did not see the daylight and spent his time in the winery, hands in the wine. A top-notch experience for the young winegrower who saw and got the opportunity to understand how wine is made. Clément realized at that point how much he likes making wine. Once again, Clément feels very lucky with his experience : “Benoit, it’s the quiet strength : he explains a lot and is very understanding ; A mistake ? “It’s okay, it happens, you won’t do it again”.” The first year, Clément was mainly in the winery, then Benoit sent him to the vines to take care of the biodynamics – that’s trust. Clément made the decoctions, sprayed with the Vermorel. When they were at the cellar, they tasted a lot. He tasted everything, including the House’s finest cuvées. Benoit gave him his trust, and Clément return the sentiment through work. From the first day at the Tarlant’s, he was greeted really superbly and Clément keeps an incredible experience : ” a family estate, with a good atmosphere that makes you want to go to work”. The approach is very precise there, especially in the winery producing brilliant vins clairs and champagne… once more an inspirational chock ! For Clément, if David is his mentor; Benoit, is like a spiritual father.
Trained alongside David Léclapart, Julien Guillot and even Benoit Tarlant, he has remained close to his masters, appreciating their wines with great resonance in terms of terroir. Burgundy, he started to dabble in everything, it was adaptability and skillfulness ; at the Tarlants it was really the completion of all he had done, the mastery of this skillfulness, he was able to put into practice everything he learned before – even if the winemaker knows it, and says it with humility, he still has a lot to learn and to master. The conviction, perseverance and inspiration of local winegrowers convinced of the potential of their terroir, who bottle magnificent wines now inspire the young winegrower.
In 2019, Clément took responsibility of 0.6 hectares in Coulommes-la-Montagne, a Premier Cru, where he vinified his grapes at the local cooperative. Clément continued in this way, while appropriating his terroirs and giving a try to organic farming methods, combining this way his own project while working at Benoit’s side at Champagne Tarlant. In 2021, back full-time home and on the family vineyard, the winegrower has taken over the entire estate of 2.3 hectares working full time with his own wines.
TERROIR ALL THE WAY
A VITICULTURE BETWEEN SIMPLICITY AND MODESTY
When he looks up from his vines perched in the village of Coulommes-la-Montagne, on the north-west slope of the Montagne de Reims, Clément lets his eye wander towards a breathtaking panorama. His estate is spread over 2.3 hectares, a rather modest size in this vineyard which is not lacking in singularities. Covering four great terroirs, his vineyard includes :
- 0.75 ha on Coulommes-la-Montagne – Petite Montagne de Reims sector – planted in clay, sand and silt soils with an average age of 30-40 vines – 70 ares of Meunier, 30 ares of Chardonnay (the only ones) ;
- 0.25 ha on Pargny-lès-Reims, planted with 30-40 years old Meuniers and with the same soils than in Coulommes – deep, with a little buhrstone.
- in the Vallée de l’Ardre, 1 ha on Tramery, the vines planted in 1970 are rooted in soils of clay and limestone but with very thin topsoils which gives more tautness and freshness to the wines.
- A few kilometers away, the vines planted in 1968 on Courmas, where everything started – 30 ares – dive its roots in clay and limestone terroirs with thin topsoil as well, but with grindstone and flint as well, crafting ample wines with an impressive salinity.
Motivated by his encounters with organic or biodynamic big names during his years of learning process, he immediately tested organic on his lands. His different experiences allowing him from now on to apply certain things on his estate. As soon as he started to come back on the estate – Spring 2015, when he is working at David’s -, he said to his father: “let’s go, let’s stop weedkillers“. At the instigation of the young winegrower, the estate has thus given up on herbicides for six years and the soils are plowed with a little chase. They are now only doing under the row, the agricultural tool armed with interstock and all the remaining grass by hand; in the middle, they mow. And Clément is well surrounded on the vineyard side: Roger Coulon, Cyril Bonnet ; so there is grass in his area and that’s good ! His neighbors are not the type to treat they plot. From the beginning, Clément – encouraged and backed by his father – is working towards applying organic approach. Very early, Clément told his pater “we have to do something“, who himself declared with amusement that he was thinking about it ; in fact, the two men had already spoken about it a lot. Clément took his father to different organic tastings – he noted that his father was not spitting out, telling his son “I have never tasted champagne like that, it makes me want to go in the same direction“. At the time Clément was part time on the estate, it was even him who slows down his father. If it were up to him, they would already be organic, but Clément insists: not until he is 100% on the Domain as it would be too much work for his father and too complicated.
The beginnings without herbicides are difficult: Clément is not present all the time on the Domain. Today, it is easier.
For 20 years his father worked to treat the vines without even a cabin. They said stop ! In 2015, he bought a chase, with a small spray on it. In the vineyard, everything is done with the little machine. The tractor, he does not control too much, and the chase is more precise, allowing him to be closer to the vines. He, therefore, feels better and its soils are breathing.
He begins with Coulommes – the closest vines. Bit by bit, just like for the organic label: the decision is made, and it’s the logical consequence, but the winemaker is moving step by step. 2021, he used more contact products – even though the year is challenging. Of course, he wants to extend the organic approach, but in complicated years like this, there is some questioning, and the winegrower is humble on the subject. This inevitably slows down things, as this year Meunier – a very fragile variety – has suffered the most from the mildew. The crafter admits as well that these are precisely the years you learn a lot as a grower : ” If it slows you down, it also allows you to move forward“.
So he moves forward, learning everyday from nature. Fight after fight. Clément wants to be as transparent as possible about what he does, what he has set up. He doesn’t want to skip steps. Therefore, he buys equipment, but reasonably. Piano, piano. Not investing too big, too quickly. He started by stopping weedkillers, then farming organically a few plots – especially those he vinifies -, consuming much less fuel and not tamping not the soils thanks to the little chase. In short, everything is done by hand or with a chaser, apart from pinching back the vines in summer…
As for organic certification, it is necessarily something he thinks about, because of where he worked, and what he drinks. But for him it is not an end in itself, it is above all about doing in accordance on his perception – never forgetting the finances as well : starting in Champagne and in COVID time also means less cash. His parents, fortunately, are there, behind him encouraging him and understanding each decision, each step through which the young winegrower goes.
His objective is to do better, to return to simpler, cleaner and closer to nature practices. To put products, it takes time ; after all there is nothing simpler than removing grass. He also greatly reduced the vigor in the vineyard, which means less yield but there is more concentration in the grapes and more taste and less rot !
For the vineyard : sulfur, contact product and compost with plants… the tests goes on as Clément truly believe in an engaged viticulture. If the approach is not claimed for the moment – the label, he does not run after -, the certification in the future would also be a great way for the winemaker to thank his mentors who have placed their trust in him. And then, for the consumer; it is important. The winemaker himself consumes a lot of organic, so how to know without the label and if you do not meet the producer…
And what’s next ?
Now that he has returned to the estate full time, Clément has new projects such as planting Pinot Noir – a grape that he does not have for the moment – and old grape varieties – Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc. He made a selection of old Pinot from the 50’s at the Gosset estate.
He is going to plant some trees as well, this to restore biodiversity.
But his great ambition remains to move forward organic and then biodynamics. But the winemaker knows it, it will take as long as it takes ! Above all, he does not want to jeopardize the estate, when my parents took 20 years to make it viable. Ans far from him the idea of contenting himself with 500 and 501 preparations to call himself biodynamist: “It’s a long way, a long-term work and a state of mind, beyond the specifications and it requires maturity. Before converting for good and getting the certification, you have to get to know your land, your terroirs, your plots, your roots and their environment. And to control your grass too. I have been maturing this for ten years and now I feel ready ! “. Nothing is easy, and especially not the obviousness of the sketch and the winegrower knows it.
Step by step, Clément continues his path, invests, tries things and specifies its know-how: already, mastering organic practices well, boosting biodiversity, finding natural balances and moving at towards biodynamics his pace the one of his vines.
The winegrower knows it, 2022 will answer a lot of questions…
COOPERATOR AND FREE
The precision and the vision of the winegrower continue during the vinification process. Once the grapes have been harvested at ideal maturity by hand, they are brought to the cooperative of Coulommes – Vrigny, just a few minutes drive from Coulommes. Clément presses and vinifies at the cooperative ; waiting to be able to invest. But the winemaker is proud to be a member of the structure. It must be said that the place is a real micro-coop, a launch platform. The structure allow him to press separately his grapes as well as to create and craft independently his own wines with high precision, while he is waiting to invest in his own cellar. The place is more like a co-working, than a traditional cooperative.
There, he benefits from brand new equipment. The cooperative invested a few years ago in new materials. First, shiny and high tech presses : two 4000kg tilted basket Coquard with superb retrousses. It is the Rolls of presses in terms of quality ; ultra-precise tool ! In fact, since these two new presses are set up, Bollinger comes at the cooperative to buy Pinots, and want them to be pressed only in the new Coquards !
Besides, Clément doesn’t use the whole capacity, he presses 2000kg by 2000kg – avoiding this way the grapes to stay too long on the platform waiting -, separating each cru and giving all his instruction to the three micro-cooperative workers, as the press is the only step he does not executed himself. So, if his wines are pressed in a cooperative, he remains the conductor, every steps of the way. His harvest is pressed separately from the others, cru by cru and following his requests with precision. The place is offering a great tool for someone who takes over with a small surface. If he would like to build his own wine cellar in 5 to 6 years, he can benefits until then from premium tools.
So yes, Clement is cooperator and proud to be ! Far from the image of the cooperative we know, Coulommes – Vrigny allows young winegrowers to vinifies 2-4 barrels and start their own track. Freedom is the key here, and the new technical installations allow the winemaker precision work.
Once the press is done, the coop-workers put the juices in little tanks and Clément take over the reins – from the settling to the casking. Again, both plots and varietals are separated. In the tanks room, the stainless steel vats sparkle, just next to two brand new barrel cellars. There, Clément works with high precision as well. During the winemaking process, he intervenes as little as possible to stay as close as possible to the terroirs and the harvest, and controls things to stay straight in terms of purity and fruit. For the sulfites – only input during the winemaking -, only parsimonious doses are used, and for the vinification, everything is made with indigenous yeasts. His wish is to accompany without rushing either the juice or the wines to respect each terroir and the quality of the grapes. So the winegrower works as simply as possible but without any concession – “to respect the terroir, the easier you do it, the better”. So no chaptalization, fining or filtration for his wines !
The fermentation is carried out in barrels, without intervention for 12 months. Clément owns several oak barrels : 228, 350, 400, 500 liters from Burgundy and one to 225 liters from Benoît. Each barrels has its own story, its own individuality. He tries to have a bit of all the brands to test different aging; some emphasizing saltiness and minerality whereas others emphasize roundness, generosity and purity. However, zero new barrels here – the youngest is from 2016. The winegrower is not looking for plank notes; More than woody character, he is looking for finesse, elegance and complexity through the vinification. On the front, each barrels is marked with chalk with precious information: the shape of the plot, the date of the casking and date of the harvest so the wine knows where it comes from… and it makes the curious talk.
Regarding the malo, he does not block it so as not to lock his wines in a too tight corset. This avoids retreating with sulfite or that malolactic starts itself later.
The bottling is usually done in June-July, so the juices benefits from a long aging in barrels which refined the wines. Anyway, Clément tastes regularly the content of his cask to follow closely the evolution – each time he tops up. So, here, everything is done to avoid bottling massive wines, too woody, but to seek freshness and finesse while preserving the vigorous personality of the terroir ; cuvées imprinted with purity.
As for the cuvées, don’t look for a BSA as there is none : no blend of harvest, no reserve wines used as Clément exclusively bottles vintages for now – since he took everything back and the production is going to increase a little, the crafter is thinking of try new things like solera, or keeping a little reserve depending on what 2021 wines will gives -, Mono-grape variety, mono-terroir, mono-year champagne.
3 areas, 4 cuvées are crafted with a Meunier – one for each terroir – and a 100% Chardonnay from Coulommes. The winemaker works by terroir and the terroir is there ! No doubt. The wines are vibrant, intense and with a lot of energy coming straight from the terroir, gaining more depth with time, as the tasting took place in two stages : first in January 7th – a root day in the lunar calendar – and a second time in June 25th – fruit day. Champagne wines in limited production with around 300 bottles ; the wines are rare and those who have the chance to taste them will confirm to you : Clément is a talent to keep your eye on.
A TWO ROUND TASTING
Naturally, such a high standard, from the vine to the cellar, ends up being felt in the mouth. One cannot help but be seduced by the minerality of the wines, starting with the vins clairs – 2020 and 2019 – and then, of course, the finished wines…
Vins clairs 2020 and 2019
Beforehand, we have a taste at the vins clairs, barrels by barrels Clément dives the pipette pulling up golden and precious terroir liquid. The opportunity to taste both 2020 and 2019 still wines, but also to understand and follow the work of the winegrower several months apart.
- Meuniers from Coulommes 2020 – a light golden juice coming from 30 years old vines, rooted in fairly deep soil of clay-limestone and sands and harvested at 10.8. Two plots half massale, half clone vines. The malolactic fermentation is carried-out and the vinification is done in a barrel coming from the Viard cooperage, from Burgundy. The bottling is planed for July 13th.
- In January : milky and well-balanced, it unveils a certain roundness and a great tension.
- In June : the nose is aromatic, ample and spicy. The palate is frank, elegant and fruity with pear notes. The finish is long and terroir-driven.
- Meuniers de Tramery 2020 – A 100% Meunier of selection massale planted there in 1969 on the Mont Robert lieu-dit ; a terroir with a less deep ground than in Coulommes and with white limestone soils. The lower part of the plot is much more chalky, but the soils is made of clay-limestone with green clays.
- In January : a wine with freshness, tautness coming directly from the terroir. It offers notes almost smoky and an elegant salinity that lasts on the finish.
- In June : the nose is elegant, frank and fresh. The palate is saline, lightly effervescent and mouthwatering with a very crunchy fruitiness.
- Meuniers de Tramery 2020 – Same plot but different barrel ; one coming from the Mâconnais from Héritiers du Comte Lafon, and it has only hosted Tramery wines.
- In January : a more buttery wine, with a certain patina. Again, a great freshness here and already a great potential.
- In June : with time it gained complexity, more depth and more notes of red fruits. The palate is frank, mineral with a full-bodied finish and the wine is more marked by its vinification, but always with subtlety.
- Meuniers de Courmas 2020 – A plot called “Sous les roses” – i.e “under the roses”, planted with massale Meunier from 1968 and 1973. The vines are rooted in Meulière stone, clay and flint terroir. The grapes were harvested at 11.4% and the aging is carried out in the most recent barrel Clément owns (2016).
- In January : a fruity wine offering structure and more woody but well integrated notes with a dormant tension, waiting to express itself.
- In June : The nose is fresh, elegant with a beautiful amplitude. The palate is spicy, supple long and full bodied. The wine reveals delicate and fresh aromas of Nashi pear.
- Meuniers de Courmas 2020 aged in different barrel. Tasted in June : the nose is elegant with pear notes. The palate is discreet, almost austere. A more frank wine with butter and fresh bread notes.
- Chardonnay from Coulommes 2020 – A plot called Paradis. The grapes come from the lower part and were harvested at 10.5.
- In January : still shy, still a little tight and closed as the wine is not ready yet. It still needs a bit of time, but already a lovely juice with white flowers notes and a delicate tension.
- In June : Fresh, taut with a smoky and round finish. A sumptuous palate, perfectly carried by the aging in barrels.
- Chardonnay from Coulommes 2019 – A plot harvested at 11.6 (12.10 post fermentation) vinified to be the future champagne. Tasted in June, the wine is elegantly marked by the oak: aging and fermentation in the 2016 cask, but again well integrated. Tension and finesse ! A generous, elegant and gastronomic cuvée to be with great aging potential.
As we go from barrel to barrel, the mind wanders and wonders… the vins clairs are already stunning, promising highly individual finished wines, waiting to be discovered on the side of a barrel…
Coteaux and champagne
La Trame noire 2018 – Coteaux
« A still, but piercingly mineral-expression of Tramery »
2018 was the first year that Clément made his own wine, starting with a white Coteaux made from 100% Meunier of selection massale vines planted in 1969 in the clay-limestone terroir of the village of Tramery. A pure Pinot Meunier then, aged in non-new oak barrels for 15 months : a 500 liter from Burgundy (20 years old) and two 225 liters (9 years old) that Clément took over from Benoit Marguet. During the vinification, just a tiny bit of sulfites at the harvest, but no chaptalization, no fining, nor filtering. The winemaker sowed his juice with natural yeast, just like for all his cuvées. The bottling was carried out at the end of August 2019 with only 293 bottles produced.
Clément offers us a brilliant Coteaux here. The color is light straw-yellow with golden hints. The nose is fresh with a very pleasant bouquet : lemon, roasted notes as well as exotic aromas enhanced by a spicy character. The palate is frank, lively, rich and creamy at the same time, with good volume and incredible finesse, combined with litchi and rose notes. The finish is delicate, supple with an elegant bitterness. An atypical wine full of energy and with a lot of subtlety.
Le chemin des roses, Courmas 2019 – Coteaux Champenois
« A lively depth of flavor and an intensely soil-driven character »
A 100% Meunier Coteaux Champenois exclusively coming from the terroirs of Courmas. The grapes were harvested at 12.10. The vinification lasted 16 months of barrels in total : from September to August in the barrel which marks a little more, followed by the one coming from the Tarlant estate and then 4 months in another barrel. No sulphite were added at the bottling.
Tasted a first time in January, the wine is already rich, with a great amplitude followed by an impressive tension on the finish, revealing its terroir of origin. An elegant still wine with smoky notes and some grip !
A few month later, in June, the wine is still seductive. The color is a pale yellow with deeper hints. The nose is buttery and fresh. The attack is creamy and frank with an impressive potential. It unveils roasted and elegant spicy notes. The aging has gained a patina, now giving even more way to terroir and grape expression.
Clément cheese recommandation: a Well-matured creamy and Runny cheese like a Langres, Chaource or beautiful, well-matured Brie.
La Trame noire 2018 – Champagne
« A broad, spicy and savory mineral wine »
For the champagne, Clément used the same base of the 2018 Coteaux : a pure Meunier of selection massale vines planted in 1969 on the site of « La Trame Noire » which’s got clay-limestone in the village of Tramery. Again here, tiny bit of sulfites at the harvest but no chaptalization, no fining, nor filtering.
The color is a light yellow with slightly golden highlights. Tasted a first time in January, it delivered fresh yeast notes with lemon and citrus aromas. The second tasting in June unveils another dimension of the cuvée. The nose reveals freshness and finesse with rosewood and beeswax notes. The palate is elegant, floral – dried flowers notes – and generous with a great finesse and suppleness as well. The finish is elegant and spicy.
An harmonious and delicate wine rooted in its terroirs. Highly individual, the champagne expresses the identity of its lands of origins and the one of its crafter, like a signature taking shapes on the landscape of champagne wines. Over the months, the cuvée has found its balance for sure !
A champagne to be released end 2021.
Without surprises, the wines of Clément Leclere are already very tasty and promising delivering the energy of their terroir and the one that the young winegrower displayed. Those who have the chance to taste them will not soon forget them.
Clément Leclere & Minard
Responsable : Clément Leclere
Location : Coulommes-la-Montagne (Montagne de Reims)
Majority grape variety : Meunier
Other grape varieties : Chardonnay
Vineyard surface : 2.3 hectares
Viticulture : Alternative approach
CHAMPAGNE CLÉMENT LECLERE
14 Rue Haute