Bonjour à tous les amateurs de champagne !

We are starting this year’s Champagne Club with two new and exciting maisons. They are part of a Nouvelle Vague of winemakers who are shaping the Champagne region with energy, determination and a true passion for its traditions, but with the strength that only a new generation can pursue and deliver. These are two different terroirs, two different winemaking touches that share a similar approach toward the land and its fruits. 

Like good farmers, we will use our positive energy to go through this year that brings challenges, but also a new spirit to face them. We are all looking for “The Great Escape,” as one of the bottles we are presenting to you this month is named.  May each bubble become a wish fulfilled while you enjoy the pleasure that comes from a glass of champagne. We all need it. We all deserve it!

Happy Mardi Gras!  Salute!

La famille PlumpJack

Champagne Etienne Calsac l’Echappée Belle Blanc de Blancs
1er Cru Extra Brut N/V

From: Avize

Winemaker: Etienne Calsac

Price per bottle / Price per case:
$ 51/bottle            $612/case

About the Winery: 
In 2010, at the age of 26, Etienne decided to take control of his grandparents’ 2.8 hectares of vineyards scattered in and around Avize, which had previously been sold off to the grandes maisons. Stewardship of the terroir is the basis for great Champagne, so Etienne set out to ensure that all the vineyards (all the vines are at least 30 years old) are planted with grass cover crops, plowed (mostly by horse), and farmed following lutte raisonnée methods (they have been farming organically since 2013 but aren’t certified). 

L’Echappée Belle translates as “The Great Escape.” The champagne is 100% Chardonnay; 70% of the base wine comes from the village of Grauves, known for its cooler microclimate. The vineyards were planted by Etienne’s grandparents. Beginning in 2011, Etienne has kept a perpetual reserve just for this cuvée, and 30% of the final blend of L’Echappée Belle is reserve wine. 

Aged in tank and barrel on fine lees for 7 months before bottling. 18-24 months in bottle before disgorgement. 

Residual sugar: 3 g/l

Tasting notes: 
Light straw yellow with vibrant sequences of tiny bubbles. The nose reveals citrus and mineral notes. Grapefruit, lime meringue pie, Bosc pear, and white peach are some of the prominent reminders to the palate. The right champagne to start the evening.

Suggested Food Pairing:
As appetizer with Bluepoint and/or Mapeque oysters; Shrimp Louie salad; Bresaola carpaccio with parmigiano; Pizza Margherita with buffalo mozzarella.

Champagne Ruppert-Leroy Fosse Grely Brut Nature N/V

From:  Essoyes

Winemaker:  Bénédicte Ruppert / Manu Leroy

Price per bottle / Price per case:
$79/bottle           $474/case (6pk)

About the Winery:
In the 1980s, the Leroys decided to convert a clearing to vineyards when it was no longer economically viable to raise sheep on it, initially selling all the fruit to the local co-op. In 2009, when her father was about to retire, Bénédicte took over the domaine along with her husband, Manu Leroy, under the condition that they could farm organically and make their own wines.

She immediately converted the 4ha (not counting the garden or small pasture on which the family still raises animals) to organics and brought all winemaking duties in-house. Now practicing biodynamic, they received certification in 2014. Bénédicte is focused on making wine in a method that is as simple as possible; each cuvée comes from a single vintage of a single vineyard, bottled ‘brut nature’ with no dosage. Since 2013 no sulfur is used at the winery.

Using his background in ecological construction, Manu built a strawbale winery on the family property, followed by a log-cabin home. In addition to the vineyards, Bénédicte and Manu run a small farm complete with horses, cows, sheep, and chickens, and on which they grow their own grains. 

This cuvee is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from a single vineyard with vines planted in early 1980 on clay-limestone soil, with mostly red clay.

The process of vinification take place with natural yeast from their own grapes, without any fining or filtering. The cold settling occurs naturally with the winter frosts. Alcoholic fermentation and élevage on fine lees in 225L barrels and 500L demi-muids for 9 months. Natural malolactic fermentation. 

Aged on the lees in bottle for 18-20 months. 

Residual sugar: 0 g/l

Tasting notes: 
Brilliant golden yellow with a fine mousse; looking in the glass reminds me of the Milky Way on a starry night because of the impressive star-like bubbles. The nose is an opulent bouquet of creaminess, umami and oriental spices. Ginger, coriander, and ocean saltiness seem to contradict the rich nose but also to confirm the absolute elegance of this champagne. Very long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:
Grilled swordfish with extra virgin olive oil, lemon zests, lemon juice and capers; Spaghetti with sea urchin and bottarga; Scrambled eggs with truffles; Lobster Thermidor.

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