In the last few decades single vineyard Champagne has risen from an obscure niche to a hugely desirable and popular style. At the forefront of this burgeoning trend are a clutch of innovative producers, passionate about terroir.
One such Maison is Pertois Lebrun. Based in Cramant, 5th generation winemakers and brothers, Antoine and Clément Bouret, work solely with Chardonnay – largely from old vines planted in the 50s by their grandfather. Among the wines they produce, are two exceptional cuvées created solely from single parcels and, as I found out from Antoine, they have a whole lot more planned…
Sip: “Antoine, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. We’ve just brought on your latest release: ‘Le Fond du Bateau No.12’ – a single vineyard wine – which sits alongside your ‘Derrière Le Mont Aigu No.12’ – another single vineyard wine. Tell me about your decision to make these cuvées from single vineyards and what makes them so unique.”
Antoine: “Well, both wines are from Chouilly and the plots are only around 400m apart. But, even though they lie in close proximity, they taste very different because the soil composition and exposure is different and because be vinify them differently. Le Fond du Bateau No.12 uses a portion of oak in addition to stainless steel vat but, as this was the first Derrière Le Mont Aigu we made, we decided to vinify only in steel as we wanted to highlight the true identity of the terroir.”
Sip: “You’re obviously happy with the wines and what each specific terroir brings. As I mentioned, we’ve just received your latest Le Fond de Bateau, but do you also have a release date for the next Derrière Le Mont Aigu?”
Antoine: “We’re actually going to be releasing the Derrière Le Mont Aigu 2014 next – ahead of the 2013; 2013 was such a cold harvest it needs a little more time. Also, unlike the first release [Derrière Le Mont Aigu No.12] this time we will be using a blend of oak and stainless steel to give it a more gastronomic style with more complexity, power and richness, which has always been our goal when we first started making single-vineyard wines. In addition to this we are also working on a special release of the 2017 Derrière which has no added sulphites. We’re going to be bottling around 1,250 but offering them as a staggered release – a few hundred every 6 months or so to see how the style changes.”
Sip: “Great, because I think we only have a couple left in stock! Aside from these two do you have plans for any other cuvées?”
Antoine: “Yes, 2022 is going to be busy for us! We also have an entirely new single vineyard champagne ‘Les Chetillons’ from Le Mesnil Sur Oger that we’re about to disgorge. It’s from the 2014 vintage and we’ll releasing it in early 2022.”
Sip: “Oh nice. So that’s around 6 years lees aging? And is that from a single plot also?”
Antoine: “Yes, 10 months in stainless steel vats and oak barrels and 6 years on the lees. This one is actually from 3 to 4 plots of varying sizes in the upper and lower part of Chetillon.” [specifically 0.87 ha in the lower part of Chétillon and 0.38 ha in the upper part of Chétillon de Haut].
Sip: “Do you feel there are big differences between what these different plots bring to the wine?”
Antoine: “In Mesnil we have great minerality generally, but the lower area is quite flat which brings more power and salinity to the wine, whilst the upper part is more sloped which brings greater freshness. All together I would describe the style as vertical but ample.”
Sip: “Sounds great. I can’t wait to try it! Anything else?”
Antoine: “Yes, just one more! Later in Autumn 2022 we have a cuvée from another small blend of parcels – all from slightly different and diverse locations – in Cramant. It’s also a 2017 vintage and, as we’re based in Cramant, we felt it was important to have a wine that was from here.”
Sip: “Wow! A lot to look forward to then. Finally, I just wanted to get your thoughts on single vineyard Champagne as a concept. Obviously, it’s clear to see from your plans that you see huge potential in this style of Champagne. Is this something you see mirrored in customer demand and if so, why do you think that is?”
Antoine: “Our entry level cuvées are still very popular and sell very well especially in the domestic [French] market. But definitely, in other markets, customers are more and more interested in single vineyard cuvées and I think we’re seeing more of them in Champagne in general. I think it’s because they are often accompanied by good stories about their origins and there is a feeling that you’re getting to try something genuine with authenticity – not just a blend where you are unsure where the wine is coming from. With a single vineyard wine you know that you’re getting a specific soil and microclimate and harvest. So there’s definitely a trend towards this and it’s really exciting for both the client and the growers, as we try and isolate every plot as much as possible to see the true identity of each parcel.”
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