Champagne: What We’re Drinking Now…

2/9/14 -

A few days ago our good friend, Mike Carleton of the small Connecticut-based import company, Transatlantic Bubbles, braved the worst snow storm of the season to bring us Champagne to taste. Low and behold, his bag was full of delicious wines that revived us from the torpor of dreary January with fine, energetic bubbles, and bracing minerality. In addition to the soulful Champagnes of Vincent Laval in Cumières, about which we’ve written extensively and often, we now receive from TB the wines of Laval’s neighbor, Fabrice Gass in Damery, and the excellent biodynamic Champagnes of Benoït Marguet in Ambonnay.

Fabrice Gass – a winemaker for Bollinger by day – has eight tiny plots of vines in Damery, totaling one hectare, which he farms and vinifies himself. (He makes less than 4,000 bottles a year and is – officially – our smallest-production Champagne grower to date.) Split between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, his base wines are matured in giant, old barrels, the largest and oldest we’ve seen in Champagne. All fermentations take place with native yeast, and as one might expect of a Domaine this size, riddling and disgorgement are done by hand. From time to time we find great correspondence between wines and their authors, and such is the case at Domaine Alexandre Filaine (Alexandre, who gives his name to the Domaine, was Fabrice’s grandfather). Possessed of a big and boisterous personality, strong opinions, and an abundant love for making and drinking Champagne, Fabrice’s wines show a breadth and power reminiscent of Bollinger, and are balanced and quaffable. He makes these wines to drink (preferably in large format as he feels that a 750 of Champagne is simply not enough wine…), and thankfully he’s been convinced to share.

Marguet Père et Fils, like several other favorite Champagne estates with young, fervent vignerons at the helm (Bérèche, Laherte, etc…), is changing for the better, and the quality of the wines is on the rise. The Domaine has a long history, dating back to the 19th century, when the Marguets experimented with grafting onto American rootstock in advance of phylloxera.  Today, Benoït Marguet, an avid proponent of biodynamics, seeks to revive the traditions of his mother’s side of the family, the Bonneraves, who’d produced estate bottled Champagne since the early 20th century. Three of Benoït’s 10 hectares are now certified biodynamic, with the remaining seven in conversion. With two of the largest horses we've seen to plough, and an ample array of biodynamic preparations to treat the soils: essential oils, tisanes, nettles, citronella, lavender, rhubarb, the young Marguet takes his commitment to this type of agriculture very seriously, and the results are beginning to show.  In the cellar, Marguet uses tanks for blending and storage of reserve wine, and barrels for fermentation. Today we highlight the stunning first release of Marguet’s single-vineyard “Les Crayères” bottling from one of the best vineyards in Ambonnay, as well as “Sapience,” a joint project between Marguet, Laval, Lahaye, and David Leclapart. These wines absolutely blew us away. Santé! -Sophie 

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered