Organic Champagne Exploration
The world of Champagne is changing. From the height of the 1960s right through the 1980s Champagne was one of the worst offenders when it came to the use of pesticides, herbicides and a lack of biodiversity. Fast forward to the present day and it is leading the way in organic and biodynamic conversion, with many of the big names taking the all important steps to respect the soil and the local environment.
Whilst it is not a prerequisite for our selection at Sip, most of our producers we work with have some level of organic or biodynamic certification and those that don’t are typically working towards it. In this case we have hand selected six producers from across the region who embody this ethos; some are certified and some are on their way, but all of them make exceptional Champagne.
Vincent is a truly unique winemaker nestled just west of Epernay. Fully biodynamic from 2013, he creates more than 15 different cuvées every year, all from tiny plots, some no more than a few hundred bottles, revealing myriad peculiarities. Made from a selection of parcels, this Champagne has a superbly saline nose, with loads of blackcurrant and notes of oyster shell on the finish. A delightful wine and one of our absolute favourites from a truly unique house.
The Benard-Pitois family started cultivating land in Mareuil sur Ay in the latter end of the 19th century, but their wines really took off in the late 1990s when they forged the road forward for organic certification. They obtained full organic certification in 2012 on their 2.5 hectares in Mareuil sur Ay and Avenay val d'Or. Their Vibratis 2013 is a sensual affair. 2g/ltr. 50% oak; the nose delicate and elegant; the palate strict and tropical; the length saline and engaging. The way the exotic fruit is captured is a dream and this wine displays so many layers along the way.
Based in Vertus, in the South of the Côte des Blancs, Kurt chooses to work with some plots of Chardonnay in the classic Pinot town of Ambonnay. He started organic conversion in 2015 and this is the first vintage. Beautifully perfumed, refined and pointed, the first sip is all peppery and blackcurrant skin. The palate is sensual, delicate and dances around nicely with this dark, bitter and complex finish. The salinity comes forward a touch, piercing the finish with orange pith.
Thomas works with 2.5 hectares in Chamery broken up into 6 parcels mainly in Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay but with some Petit Meslier, Arbanne and Pinot Blanc too. He started organic methods in 2012 and creates wonderfully complex, rich and engaging wines. The Tradition is a complex but intriguing entry to Thomas's wines. There’s loads of fresh citrus fruit layered on apple pie with a brilliant mineral edge. You sense a really engaging relationship with the soil, bringing limestone notes alongside redcurrants and fresh green apple. A magical introduction to Thomas Perseval.
Alban returned to the family home and immediately converted to organic and biodynamic practice. This, his first wine made with organic techniques, is an utter delight and made from Chardonnay in a town planted mainly in Pinot Noir! Made from two vineyards: Les Epinettes and Les Alouettes, it is 50% oak vinified with 2g/ltr. The nose is wonderfully perfumed; the front end, striking, straight and pure. The palate leads perfectly and remains strict but with ample black fruits on the mid to late and, although dry, there is a nice layer of sugary fruit just on the finish.
Aurelie and Loic set out back in 2010 in the southern reaches of the Côte de Sezanne. Now fully organic, they create tense, complex and pure wines such as this, their 100% Chardonnay. Made from two plots in Villenauxe la Grande with 0g/ltr and fermented 15% in small oak barrels, 35% large oak barrels and 50% tank, there is a wonderful rich flavour profile without losing that crisp, chalky background.