Imagine a treasure trove dedicated solely to the Champagne wines. That was the concept guiding these selections. At first glance, they might appear somewhat eclectic, yet there's an underlying thread connecting them. Each comes from relatively small-scale producers, each with their own unique approach to the art of winemaking. But let's not dwell too long on the rationale behind this assortment. After all, it's a 'mixed bag' – albeit one that sparkles with the exceptional charm and complexity of Champagne.
By the way, we repeat the mantra of anti-event: less people, less wine, more focus and more enjoyment.
Frédéric Cossard La Chassornade 2021
This wine secured the 🏅 6th place in our wine tasting lineup.
A welcome drink shared by Andrii Sierkov.
Clandestin Boréal 2020
This wine secured the 🏅 5th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Founded by Benoit Doussot, a Meursault-trained winemaker, Clandestin is a unique micro-negociant estate located next to Vouette. Doussot, who has significant experience working at Vouette with Bertrand and Hélène, established Clandestin with a focus on small, often overlooked vineyard parcels and expositions. These hidden or 'clandestine' sites include Pinot Noir on Kimmeridgian limestone and Chardonnay on Portlandian limestone. Emphasizing organic farming practices, the fruit is meticulously harvested by hand.
Doussot's winemaking philosophy is deeply influenced by his training in Meursault, particularly evident in his use of French oak barrels for ageing. His approach results in Champagnes that resonate with purists, distinguished by their minerality, precision, and clarity. A key aspect of his methodology is the insistence on harvesting perfectly ripe grapes, which is not the norm in Champagne. This approach often leads to Champagnes being bottled with no dosage, allowing the distinctive oceanic terroir to prominently feature.
Boréal 2020 is a special creation from Clandestin, deriving from north-facing vineyards (20-35 years old) of Pinot Noir in the commune of Buxières-sur-Acre. These vineyards, cooler than most in the village, produce wines with pronounced minerality and bright, crunchy berry flavours. The winemaking process involves fermentation and ageing in French oak barrels, followed by 15 months sur latte. In line with Clandestin's philosophy, Boréal is disgorged without any dosage.
As Doussot has gradually increased his production, he has started to separate Pinot Noir based on the different exposures of the parcels. This allows for a more nuanced expression of each site's unique characteristics. Boréal 2020 is a prime example of this approach, showcasing the distinct qualities of its north-facing terroir, resulting in a Champagne that is both precise and intensely mineral.
Maurice Vesselle Grand Cru Millésimé 2013
This wine secured the 🥉 3rd place in our wine tasting lineup.
The Champagne House Maurice Vesselle, established in 1955 in Bouzy by Maurice Vesselle, is now led by his sons, Didier and Thierry. They manage the 7.5 hectares of family vineyards, upholding the legacy and values of their father. The vineyards are situated in Bouzy and Tours sur Marne, on the Montagne de Reims, an area exclusively classified as 'Grand Cru'. The Vesselle brothers are deeply committed to preserving their terroir, employing traditional methods like hilling up, ploughing, and ripping across all vines. Their dedication to environmentally friendly practices is highlighted by their HVE (High Environmental Value) certification.
The House is renowned for its prestigious range of vintages from 1976, which are a testament to the rich terroir of Bouzy and Tours sur Marne. The champagnes primarily feature Pinot Noir with a smaller amount of Chardonnay. Didier and Thierry Vesselle choose not to use malolactic fermentation in their winemaking process to preserve the freshness and finesse of their wines.
The Brut Millésime 2013 from Maurice Vesselle is composed of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. The alcoholic fermentation is conducted in stainless steel vats, and the wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. This choice maintains the wine's natural freshness and delicate characteristics. The champagne is aged for a minimum of eight years in the cellar.
Robert Moncuit Les Vozémieux Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2016
This wine secured the 🥈 2nd place in our wine tasting lineup.
Robert Moncuit's Champagne House has a rich history, tracing back to 1889 when Alex Moncuit, Robert's grandfather, first planted vineyards in the Champagne region. Robert Moncuit, the third generation, established the first estate-bottled champagne in 1928. Today, the estate is managed by his daughter Françoise and grandson Pierre Amillet, representing the fourth and fifth generations. They continue the family's tradition of producing exquisite Champagnes while embracing sustainable viticulture, free from chemical pesticides. The vineyards, spanning approximately 8 hectares around Le Mesnil-sur-Oger – a Grand Cru village in the Côte des Blancs – are ideal for producing Blanc de Blancs Champagnes from 100% Chardonnay grapes. The meticulous grape selection during hand harvest and the combination of steel tank and oak barrel vinification enhance the uniqueness of each Cuvée.
The Moncuit estate maintains a deep commitment to traditional methods, favoring them over modern technology. Grapes are harvested at peak ripeness, eliminating the need for chaptalization (adding sugar during fermentation). Each plot is pressed and vinified separately, allowing for complex blends. Malolactic fermentation is generally undertaken, except in exceptionally warm vintages. Aging occurs in both steel and oak barrels, with oak being particularly significant for single-vineyard wines. The estate's vineyards include prized plots in Les Vozémieux and Les Chétillons. Les Vozémieux, with vines planted in 1955, is located in the village of Oger and offers a north-facing aspect, contrasting with the south-facing Les Chétillons in Mesnil.
The Les Vozémieux 2016 is a Blanc de Blancs Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes. These grapes are harvested from the Grand Cru-classified Les Vozémieux lieu-dit near Oger, in the renowned Côte des Blancs. This Champagne is an Extra Brut, with a dosage of 0 g/l, highlighting the intense fruit ripeness and the striking minerality of the chalk terroir.
Francoise Bedel L'Âme de la Terre Millésime 2006
This wine secured the 🥇 1st place in our wine tasting lineup.
Françoise Bedel stands out not only for her remarkable journey into winemaking but also for her unique approach to viticulture and winemaking. Hailing from the village of Crouttes-sur-Marne, located on the western edge of Champagne, Bedel's estate is a testament to her dedication and passion for winemaking. Her journey into biodynamic winemaking, inspired by her personal experiences and a deep reverence for nature, has set her apart in a region celebrated for its long-standing conventional vinegrowing and winemaking traditions.
The 8-hectare estate, cultivated with vines aged between 30 and 60 years, reflects Bedel's commitment to biodynamic practices since 1998. This approach, centred around the interplay between soil, subsoil, and the vine's root system, allows for the fullest expression of the terroir in her grapes. The unique bio-dynamic compost used in the vineyards, containing preparations made from yarrow, chamomile, nettle, oak bark, dandelion, and valerian, is a testament to her dedication to fostering a harmonious relationship between the vineyard and its natural environment.
Located in the Marne Valley, known for its quality Pinot Meunier grapes, Bedel's estate predominantly focuses on this variety, along with smaller plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Her Champagnes, often aged for more than six years on the lees, are renowned for their depth and complexity. This extended lees ageing, combined with low or zero dosage, results in Champagnes with significant weight, heft, and lingering acidity.
Benoît Lahaye Le Jardin de la Grosse Pierre 2017
This wine secured the 🏅 4th place in our wine tasting lineup.
This was a bonus bottle we opened as a finishing touch.
- Clandestin. European Cellars.
- Champagne Maurice Vesselle.
- Robert Moncuit. Champagne Characters.
- Robert Moncuit. Kellogg Selections.
- Robert Moncuit. Glugulp!
- Françoise Bedel. European Cellars.
- Champagne Bedel.