Arriving in November we will have some inspirational Champagnes from a ‘meunier specialist’ grower who I have known for a number of years. I have always liked the wines, but now with their certified conversion to biodynamic viticulture and restructuring of their cuvées to focus on terroir and low dosages, the range has jumped to a new level of quality. They have been using biodynamic techniques for a number of years and now have decided to fully ratify their passion by formal certification. Subtle oak, partial malolactic with long time on lees, single parcel viticulture, all lift the range into the super class. André Heucq in Cuisles specialises in mineral meunier from their unique green clay Illite soils which gives acidity and minerality to produce complex age worthy meunier with elegance, vivacity, energy and tension.
Cuisles is a tiny village of only 150 people and 33 hectares of vineyards mainly meunier. It is a tricky village to find, tucked away from the Marne Valley, with east to south-east facing vineyards and much lower rainfall than Marne Valley vineyards. The soils are interesting. The first layer is sandy soils, second layer is green clay Illite and third layer is chalky clay. The Illite clay retains water better than the chalky-clay and is rich in nutrients. If you were to cut a cross section through the vineyard you’d find that most of the roots of the vines are concentrated in this layer of green clay. That’s why this kind of soil needs less water.The neighbouring villages of Jonquery and Olizy have similar soils and aspect.
The Heucq family consists of André and Patricia with their children, Alex and Fanny. Fanny is the brains behind one of the most iconic Paris Champagne Boutiques – Dilettantes in the 6th arrondisement. Selling and promoting the best big houses and growers – like Eric Rodez, Vazart Coquart and many others.
It was a pleasure to visit the Heucq family during the 2018 harvest and understand more about their passion and dedication. They are one of the very few vignerons who house, feed and transport all their pickers. Their new cuverie in Cuisles has been purposely designed to look after all the pickers during harvest. They are all trained to diagnose and discard any inferior bunches and only pick the best. A slow process, but quality is guaranteed, and the Heucq family is serious about grape quality. And they are cousins of the other good vignerons in Cuisles, the Moussé family.