MARCH 2020 / GROWER CHAMPAGNE CLUB
FARMING ZEAL IN FARMER’S FIZZ
There is an energetic new movement evolving in Champagne; after decades of family farmers selling their grapes from their tiny estates to the few big-name, juggernaut Champagne houses, many folks are choosing instead to bubble the fruits of their own labors, and express the flavors of the soil that their family’s have worked for generations. Even more of a rarity are these grower-producer types who are gung-ho for organic and biodynamic practices, literally plowing the way (by horse by goodness) for sustainability in a sea of conventional, chemically farmed (deadbeat) vineyards. These two farmers are the who’s-who of the farm-to-stable movement growing strong in Champagne.
Benoit Marguet “Shaman 15”
Pinot Noir + Chardonnay
Ambonnay, Champagne, France NV (2015)
- Pouillon began back in 1947 with a tiny production from the family property in Vallée de la Marne and Montagne de Reims, gradually expanding to a respectable but miniscule holding of about 15 acres, or 6 hectares. Grandson Fabrice began farming the Pouillon land in ‘98 and converted to organic and biodynamic in 2003. To this day the entire Champagne region is notorious for its modern industrial approach and vineyard monoculture, and so these very early days of the organic movement in the wine industry showed us some folk with some true insight. The Pouillon family employs composts and cover crops, herbal teas and integrated pest management, and a lot of hard work by hand in order to champion the terroir they work in every day. The result is a bombastic mineral infusion that is intensely aromatic; a champagne layered with the bright red apple crunch of Pinot Noir, the electric pluck of Chardonnay, and the je-ne-sais-quoi savoriness of Meunier.
65% Pinot Noir 15% Chardonnay 20% Pinot Meunier from the villages of Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Avenay-Val-d’Or, Épernay, Festigny, and Tauxières-Mutry. 50% 2016, 35% 2015, 15% solera (dating back to the 1990s) 5 grams / liter dosage
*Also, check out the secret note on the inside of the foil capsule that translates to: “The Pouillon family wishes you an enjoyable tasting.” We love secret notes, especially ones wrapped on champagne bottles.
Champagne like this transcends words, it feels more like an experience, like watching lightning in the rain. The wine hits almost like a classic Manhattan cocktail: the rich deep velvet texture balanced by an herbal bitter bite, all wrapped up with that red-fruited burst of amarena cherry on top.
Pinot Noir + Chardonnay + Pinot Meunier
Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Champagne, France NV
Aurélie Barrat and Loïc Masson are a husband and wife team that are truly living the dream. Their winery borders the Marnes and Aube, perched right on the edge of the Champagne border. Or, as Loïc would say “No, this is not the edge, it’s where Champagne begins.” They took over the family property, swiftly converted to Organic farming and have found a fine balance between traditional and modern technique to create these amazing small batch wines. They vinify the grapes from each of their small plots individually, about 10% in older barrel, but essentially do everything they can to make sure this cuvee is a transparent window to the fruit they grow in their deep chalk soils.
Crunchy, chalky and snappy. Green apple tartness with both the scent and flavors of lime leafs. The minerality reminds me a bit of gunpowder (think old school cap guns from childhood), as well as earthy white sage and a touch of saltiness. The acid profile tightens the cheeks for sure, but the sensation is almost like something spicy as opposed to just straight mouth watering. This would be magic sauce with oysters or some good sashimi.
100% Chardonnay all from the 2016 vintage, even though it is not considered a ‘vintage’ Champagne. Organic farming. 9 months on fine lees in 85% stainless, 15% barrel. Sur lattes 24 month, 3 months in bottle before release. This bottling is Zero Dosage.
Crunchy, chalky and snappy. Green apple tartness with both the scent and flavors of lime leafs. The minerality is gunpowder-y as well as earthy white sage and a touch of saltiness. This would be magic sauce with oysters or some good sashimi.