Now that we are in the middle of summer, everyone seems to be relaxing with friends or enjoying their vacations. These are both good reasons to pop a bottle of fine bubbles, and when we say “fine bubbles,” we mean champagne, of course!
And what “fine bubbles” we have here! Two small growers, both using less intrusive farming techniques and following organic and biodynamic practices, are crafting two very distinguished styles of champagne. It’s up to you to decide which one wins you over; even if I suspect it will be hard to choose one over the other. So, just enjoy both; it’s summertime!
Born and raised in Ambonnay, Benoit Marguet is quickly becoming a globally recognized organic/biodynamic Champagne superstar.
Benoit cut his teeth by assisting a who’s who of local producers in the village’s enology lab and later lending his growing talents to Mumm. Next, Benoit traveled to the US, where he served as assistant winemaker under the legendary Paul Hobbs.
In 2004 he started changing the farming practices on his family vineyards, applying biodynamic concepts. By 2011, his entire property was certified organic. Benoit’s style of champagne making is compared to Krug, to whom he sells some of his grapes.
Marguet Grand Cru is made from 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay from about 30 year old vines. The fruit comes from the Grand Cru villages of Ambonnay and Bouzy, mostly from the 2014 vintage, with a significant amount from old reserve wines to boost more complexity.
Both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation occurs in neutral oak. No sugar is added the dosage, and sulfur additions were minimal.
In the glass, the perlage is persistent in its golden brilliant color with greenish sparks.
The striking minerality doesn’t overpower the notes of brioche and fruitcake bread, with alternating sensations of white and red fruits like apple, pear and cherry. The taste will confirm what you already smelled. Elegant but not austere, this champagne is made to celebrate.
Pair with oysters or rich creamy cheeses.
Bertrand Brigandat made his first vintage of Champagne from his family’s vines in the Côte de Bars in 1993 after nearly three decades of selling almost their entire production to negociant houses. While Laurent Perrier still buys 40% of the annual harvest, Bertrand has settled firmly into being a “grower” Champagne vigneron of the highest quality. Since taking over as winemaker he has worked to transition the vineyard to organic, although he also incorporates aspects of biodynamic and homeopathic practice as well. In the cellar, he uses natural yeasts for the first fermentation and has reduced the use of sulfur at all stages of wine making.
From his 8.22 hectares, Bertrand only bottles around 4,000 cases of wine every year, but working small helps him to keep quality at its highest. It also allows him to take a completely hands on approach in all of his vineyards which Bertrand has given nicknames as if they were close friends. As we drove around the hillsides of Channes, Bertrand would point to a plot and say, “this is Mimie,” another “Gilberte,” and “Buché” for the Pinot Noir vines planted in 1965 for the vintage bottling.
Brigandat Blanc des Noirs is 100% Pinot Noir made from 30 year old vines planted in Kimmeridgian limestone soil, which provides the wine with racy minerality to brace the ripe vinous notes. The dosage here is 9 grams.
When it’s poured in the flute the color is yellow gold with warm orange reflections.
The nose offers a nutty scent of toasted hazelnuts and a minty undertone, with red fruit hints.
The palate is reminiscent of red apples, baked spices and a creaminess that coats the palate, without losing its balance in harmony.
Can be paired with a classic sole meunière, baked halibut with lemon zest and capers, or a cup of New England clam chowder.
À votre santé!
La Famille PlumpJack
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