Vincent Charlot/Guillaume Sergent

Speaking to his ghostwriter shortly before he mic-dropped this mortal coil, the artist forever - sorry, 4ever -  known as Prince chided critics tethering his music to otherworldly concepts like “alchemy” and, especially, “magic.” Exactly wrong, he explained. Like the song insists: his name is Prince, he is funky - and funk “is the opposite of magic.” Indeed, “funk is about rules.” 

 “Funk is about rules” is what gets stuck in my head whenever I am in wine country and watching rows of carefully braided vines curl horizon-ward. We like to valorize our favorite visionaries as inspired, unknowable geniuses, but the heights of human creativity mostly get summited via order, organization and repetition. This month we have two vignerons whose originality and iconoclasm are made possible by adherence to self-imposed limitations. Like his Royal Purpleness, they are radicals after the term’s earliest meaning - from the Latin radicalis “originating in the root, or ground, or body parts vital to life.” Seems like a wise place to start when you want to take it higher. 

Rather than winemaker, Vincent Charlot proudly identifies as a “peasant of terroir.” All of his plots are cultivated organically and biodynamically, which is rare for the area  - only 2% of the Champagne vineyards are biodynamic. He adopted this approach gradually - after an apprenticeship in Alsace, and studies with biodynamic pioneer Pierre Mason, becoming convinced only after he observed the effects in his own vineyards. Since taking over for his parents at the turn of the millennium, he has never tilled the soils - “mixing layers destroys biodiversity”, he says; his trust in natural balance is so strong that he avoids seeding the plants himself, save for an occasional lavender or rosemary.  He also vinifies each of his tiny parcels individually,  producing only single vintage and parcel bottlings, an insanely labor intensive process that results in uniquely layered and lively Champagne, bursting at the bubbles with energy, tension and nuance. 

The Sergent family has a long history of growing vines in the Vrigny region in the northwestern part of Montaigne de Reims, dating back at least as far as the mid-nineteenth century. The family produced and bottled wines at the local cooperative and sold them under the Roger Sergent label until 2008, when Guillaume and his brother took control of the family estate. Guillaume kept just around 1.5 hectares of the family holdings, while the remaining 2 hectares went to Guillaume’s brother, who now sells his fruit to Moët. Before that,  Guillaume earned a degree in geology, and  trained as oenologist, working for several well known Champagne producers, including Louis Roederer. When he started releasing bottles under his own in name in 2011, he forged his own approach. Guillaume never blends Chardonnay and Pinots nor harvest years, aging in five demi-muids for an entire year, plus one year ‘sur latte’ with a minimum dosage. The end result is aromatic wines with laser beam intensity. Les Prés Dieu comes from two premier cru parcels, and eschews the local stalwart Pinot Meunier grape for pure Chardonnay. His is an extremely limited production - 4,000 bottles a year - so we are very lucky to be able to share some with you.  


The PlumpJack Family 

Vincent Charlot-Tonneaux Le Fruit de Ma Passion 2017

From: FRANCE • Champagne Vallee de la Marne • Mardeuil

About the Winery:  Centered in the village of Mardeuil, just west of Eparney,  in the Vallee De Marne, Vincent Charlot’s holdings consist of just 4.4 hectares total, but they spread out over 39 different plots in 6 villages. A total terroir geek, Vincent vinifies each parcel individually, producing somewhere between between 17 and 27  different cuvées each year in order to showcase the unique personality of his highly diverse soils and expositions. Assemblage/Vinification:  Spontaneous fermentation in amphoras and seasoned barrels; the wines are left to go through malolactic fermentation as they choose (mostly not). Secondary fermentation in bottles with concentrated grape must, long aging on lees – sometimes around four, some up to eight years, and after disgorgement, they are topped up with the same champagne and dosed with no more than 4 grams per liter, falling under the Extra Brut category. Little to no SO2 at press. The wines released as “Charlot-Tanneux”, come from  Vincent’s smaller parcels that aren’t officially certified due to their small size but enjoy the same biodynamic care and minimal intervention winemaking as the Vincent Charlot wines.

Tasting notes: This wine has a ton of personality. Saffron, flowers, delicate spice touch (nutmeg and white pepper), light brioche, sweet wood, almonds, wonderful roundness held by acidic grip… layers just keep on coming.

Winemaker: Vincent Charlot

Price per bottle / Price per case: $52/561.16

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Chicken & Mushroom Crepe


Champagne Guillaume Sergent Extra Brut “Les Pres Dieu” NV

From: FRANCE • Champagne • Mareuil sur Aÿ, Vallée de La Marne

Assemblage/Vinification: Dosage: "Prés Dieu" is made up of 100% Chardonnay derived from an assembling of two parcels which are especially exposed: the first, in Coulommes, and otherwise known as the “Vignes Dieu” has southern exposure, while the one in Vrigny, known as “Prés,” where the cuvée gets its name, has eastern exposure. Vinification is done in 228L and 500L barrels. No enzymes, no commercial yeasts (except in wet years), no fining, no filtration, nor cold stabilization. Manual riddling of bottles, extra brut dosage of MCR (concentrated and rectified grape must) less than 5g/L.

Tasting notes: The tiny dosage of 4 grams per liter keeps this bottling razor sharp and focused but still with some palate presence allowing the fruit to shine. Pear, sea salt, minerals and a fresh lemon zest note make the long finishing and clean wine a masterful glass to enjoy. 

Winemaker:  Guillaume Sergent 

Price per bottle / Price per case:


Suggested Food Pairing: 

Seafood, Sushi, & Shellfish.

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