Elegance Meets Power: The Top Wines of Raphaël Bérèche!

9/7/12 -


It was at dinner with our friend from Champagne Salon, that we first heard the name Raphaël Bérèche. Though our penchant at Chambers is for grower Champagne, we reckoned this experienced taster knew his Champagnes. His exact words were: “Do you know who the best new Champagne grower is? It’s Raphael Bérèche.” This conviction sparked our curiosity; we sought out Bereche’s wines, promptly tasted them, and brought Bérèche’s delicious Brut Reserve and steely Extra Brut into the store. Now, over a year later, we have the opportunity to offer Bérèche’s very special single terroir and vintage wines.

Bérèche et Fils is a 9.5 hectare, family run Domaine in the town of Ludes in the northern Montagne de Reims.  Raphaël returned to the estate upon finishing winemaking school and his proclivities in the vineyard and cellar are increasingly apparent in the wines. As is the case with most traditional Champagne growers, Bérèche is not organic; however the use of herbicides ceased in 2004 when Raphaël began to work at the Domaine, and he’s experimenting with biodynamics for some parcels. The Bérèche family owns vines in three parts of Champagne: in and around Ludes, further west in the Marne village of Mareuil-le-Port, and further north in Ormes. Bérèche’s Brut Reserve and Extra Brut wines are complex and delicious blends of equal parts all three Champagne grapes varieties, and the single terroir wines show Raphaël’s skill and attention to detail. We find ourselves agreeing with our friend from Salon, as well as with Peter Liem, who describes him as “one of Champagne’s rising stars.”

Vinifications at Bérèche are traditional, with the majority of the base wines fermented with native yeast. Bérèche likes to incorporate oxygen into the winemaking process. He is using more and more wood, preferring used, heat dried (but never toasted) barrels from famed Burgundy Domaine Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. For the top wines, Bérèche often uses cork rather than crown cap closure during the second fermentation, a process known as “tirer à liege,” which gives aromatic openness and very fine bubbles to the wines. Bérèche clearly harbors a preference for acid and mineral driven Champagnes; it’s a good thing we do too! Malolactic fermentations are systematically blocked and the wines are cold-stabilized through a highly technical process: leaving the doors open in winter. Bérèche’s wines have intense cut, palate-riveting acidity, and very fine mousse. All disgorgement is done by hand, furthering the impression that at this Domaine no expense of labor will be spared to create the most refined and subtly powerful wine possible.  

A personal note: I visited Bérèche in the spring and several of his wines have lingered in my mind since then, taunting me in advance of their arrival. To our knowledge, this is the first time his top wines have been offered in New York. The quantities are quite small and the quality very high for the price. The time to act is now. Salut! -Sophie

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered