The young, but already accomplished Champagne grower Flavien Nowack pouring at Des Pieds et Des Vins tasting in Reims

Directions in Champagne - Flavien Nowack Exploring Terroir and Technique

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Though it’s a bit of a truism at this point, for a region dominated by big houses and co-operatives, the grower revolution in Champagne over the last 20-30 years is still remarkable as the new generation(s) continue to improve and refine viticulture, explore individual terroirs, and expand on the possibilities of the wines. The forebear of this is certainly Anselme Selosse, whose bottling of specific parcels and perpetual cuvées inspired dozens of growers and still bears fruit today with young Champenois as they take over their families’ vines and cellars.

One of the brightest young stars is Flavien Nowack who seems to be endlessly curious as well as fantastically devoted to terroir. I first tasted his wines and vins clairs at the Des Pieds et Des Vins tasting in Reims, where he not only distinguished himself with the character of his wines, but by also showing the unfermented grape must alongside his vins clairs and finished Champagnes so one could taste the terroir from base material to final wine. His friends and colleagues in the Pieds et des Vins group Agnés Corbon and Sébastien Mouzon describe him as a man who is as driven to explore the history of Champagne as he is inspired by the terroirs of his family’s parcels on the right bank of La Grande Vallée de Marne.

Located in Vandières with vines Châtillon-sur-Marne, Champagne Nowack has roots dating back to 1795 (per Peter Liem’s indispensable ChampagneGuide.Net). The family began grape farming in 1850. Flavien started making his own Champagnes under Domaine Nowack while converting the vineyards to organic viticulture and bottling individual parcels. His primary fermentations are with native yeasts, in vat and barrel without chaptalization. The secondary fermentation (prise de mousse) is with grape must rather than selected yeasts and liqueur, and the parcellaires are aged under cork, rather than crown cap. Extended lees-aging results in an ultra-fine bead and lithe palate. And in a shocking twist, in his sulfur-free bottling Les Arpents Rouge, the vin clair is not topped off and allowed to develop a voile or flor much like the oxidative whites from the Jura. The resulting Champagne is a fascinating, savory wine with great umami character to accompany the red fruit and citrus oil flavor profile. It’s been a great pleasure enjoying Flavien’s growth and we are delighted to feature his wines. John McIlwain

Nowack, Flavien NV (Base 17) Champagne Extra Brut S.A.

Flavien Nowack's Extra-Brut S.A. (Sans Année) is comprised of 60% Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay farmed biodynamically in the village of Vandières in the Marne. The base vintage is 2017 with 40% reserve wines dating from 2012. Initial fermentation is with native yeasts and the vins clairs are aged in tank and oak. The nose offers aromas of apple skin, ginger, and wet stone. The palate is medium-bodied and buoyant with stone fruit and spice flavors lent gravitas with a fine bead of pungent minerality.

  • white sparkling
  • 8 in stock
  • no discount
  • $57.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Nowack, Flavien NV (Base 15) Champagne Extra Brut Les Bauchets Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir planted in 1983 from a southeast-facing plot comprised of sandy soils in Vandières on the right (north) bank of the Marnes. The vin clair is fermented with native yeast in vat and barrel without undergoing malolactic, the secondary fermentation is under corkThe robe is pale gold, there is an ultra-fine bead and soft mousse.  Upon opening the nose offers pretty aromas of red fruits, rainier cherry, and crushed herbs. The palate is broad but lithe, with the ripe brambly fruit, racing along with a savory mineral core lending both energy and gravitas. The finish is long and lingering with a beautiful hint of Pinot spice to close. A lovely bottle that should gain in complexity and layers with a few more years in the cellar. Disgorged 12/19 2g/l dosage. John McIlwain

  • white sparkling
  • 7 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Nowack, Flavien NV (Base 16) Champagne Extra Brut La Fontinette Pinot Meunier

100% Pinot Meunier from a single plot towards the bottom of the slope in Chatillon sur Marne, planted in 1965, biodynamically farmed. The soils are sand and clay limestone over marl. The vins clairs were aged in a combination of barrel and tank, secondary fermentation under cork, aged for 30 months on lees.It’s such a delight tasting the wines from growers whose progress you’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy bottle by bottle, year by year. Especially when it’s a grower a talented and seeking as Flavien Nowack. The 2016 La Fontinette (Parcelle-Autre Cru) Pinot Meunier is a Champagne combining lush fruit and subtle, but striking earth notes. The robe is a faint peach hue, the mousse is soft and frothy, and there is an ultra fine bead. The nose offers aromas of ripe stone fruit, peach skin, orange blossom and cream. The palate is inviting and juicy on the attack with ripe orchard fruit, hints of sweet spice, and oil flavors enrobing a taut and nervy mineral core with a lip-smacking, expansive, stony finish. This is delicious and each sip beckons one to take another. And while this is sensational now the persistent minerality makes me think that as the generous fruit integrates with the structure this will be even more compelling. John McIlwain

  • white sparkling
  • 6 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Nowack, Flavien NV (Base 15) Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs La Tuilerie

100% Chardonnay from a southwest facing parcel comprised of sandy limestone soils in Vandières on the right bank of the Marne.  Farmed biodynamically. Fermented with native yeasts, aged in a combination of vat and small barrel, secondary fermentation is under cork, with prise de mousse done with grape must rather than liqueur.  The robe is a  pale yellow green, with a fine bead and soft mousse. The cool-toned nose offers aromas of lemon pith, crushed herbs, and sea spray. The palate is lean and chiseled with citrus peel, apple skin, and quinine flavors underlain by a snappy, brisk, mineral spine. This is bright and fresh with plenty of lift and verticality and succulence on the finish. I’d love this with a plate of St John’s, Pemaquid, and Glidden Point oysters to enjoy the interplay of the brininess of the oysters with the salty character of the Champagne. John McIlwain

  • white sparkling
  • 7 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur
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Nowack, Flavien NV (Base 16) Champagne Extra Brut Les Arpents Rouges

Perhaps the most distinctive in a lineup of compelling Champagnes, Les Arpents Rouges is a single parcel wine comprised Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, grown in clay sandstone soils toward the bottom of the slope in Vandières. The grapes are farmed organically, and aged in barrels without sulfur or ouillage (topping up). The prise de mousse is done with grape must and the wine is bottled without sulfur. The robe has a faint golden hue. The nose is a mélange of red fruit, citrus oil, and savory aromas. The palate is expansive but lively with ripe stone fruit, , salted plum,and orange zest flavors and a compelling umami-rich, undercurrent. This is a distinctly sapid Champagne and the tension between fruit,  pungent soil notes, and the almost dashi like character is fascinating and delicious. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $94.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur