A new grower in Hermonville – north of Reims in Massif Saint Thierry. This area is the most northerly part of the Champagne region and has had an interesting history. Ravaged by phylloxera and the world wars, many vineyards were replanted in the mid sixties. Frederic and Rodolph look after 8 hectares of vines mainly in Hermonville. 4.5ha Meunier, 2ha Chardonnay and 1.5ha Pinot. Average vineyard age is 45 years. Traditionally they sold all their grapes to the big houses, but in 2005 they decided to start there own business. Frederic spent some time with Anselme Selosse and no doubt this has had a lasting effect on his philosophy towards wine making. All the wines are fermented and aged in barrel with battonage, and malo-lactic fermentation is blocked for all the cuvees. About 70% of barrels are 5 years or older.
Rodolph and Frederic have some interesting terroirs to work with. The upper hills are covered in sand-loam soil while the lower areas are loam, clay and sand. These well-draining soils contain high levels of minerals. Also there are numerous parcels of very old ungrafted vines. All parcels have prestigious south to south-east exposure. Four cuvees are currently available with a fifth, the vintage ‘2008 Symbiose’ for release in 2017. Current production is about 15,000 bottles per year and slowly increasing. Vinification and selection is very much parcel by parcel and then barrel by barrel. We tasted some amazing wines out of barrel. The influence of the different types and age of oak can be quite significant and Frederic uses this to blend the best he can to express the terroir.
So from year to year the blends and selections can be very different. Such is the nature of parcel and barrel viticulture.
These are a stunning range of individual hand crafted wines. Frederic and Rodolph’s journey has just begun. They could have easily decided to bottle their entire 8ha production from the outset, but they have chosen to slowly discover the intricacies of their differing terroirs and expand this by applying precise vinification. They understand that making a ‘no-malo’ wine requires long cellar aging to allow the components to integrate and harmonize. Too often we see ‘young’ no malo wines being released far too early, leaving them virtually undrinkable upon release, and often tricked up with a high dosage to make them approachable. The Miniere viticulture is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Preserving the biodiversity is paramount. The back labels are a joy! Everything is revealed!
Les Fauvagnes Parcels of Meunier. Origin 1968 and 1969.Ungrafted Meunier 1962
Les Rosières Parcels of ungrafted Meunier and Pinot Noir 1974.Chardonnay 1963
Les Grands Blancs Parcels of Chardonnay 1964, Ungrafted Chardonnay 1965
Les Moineaux Parcels of Meunier 1963, 1969, 1971, Pinot Noir 1981, Chardonnay 1963
Les Fosselles Parcels of Pinot Noir 1975 Chardonnay 2003
Les Voirmissa Parcels of Meunier 1949, 1967 Pinot Noir 1968 Chardonnay 1972
La Couturelle Parcels of Meunier 1986,1987,1988,1989,1990,1992,1993 Pinot Noir 2002
Champagne Minière – Influence.
Blend of 35% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier, 25% Chardonnay. Soils are sandy clay loam on limestone base. Dosage 5.5gm/litre. 85% 2009 and 15% 2008. The meunier component adds some complex aromatics and expands the flavor profile. Wonderfully mouth-filling and thought provoking. Hints of yellow fruits, citrus and cocoa. The 2009 base wine adds some lovely richness and complexity. Tight and powerful. There is not much of this. Last year a fine wine retailer took most of the stock.
Champagne Minière – Blanc Absolu,
100% Chardonnay from a 50 year old single vineyard parcel – Les Moineaux. Here we have sandy loam soils on limestone. 82% 2010 and 18% 2009. Dosage 6g/litre. Smoky oak and minerals with hints of citrus, tropical overtones, chalk and almonds. Pure, long, precise, elegant and very complex. The long palate finishes precise, with minerals and chalk. Luscious length and amazing fine grain complexity. This is now bottled in a clear bottle and is wrapped in UV proof red cellophane. Disgorged May 2016. Aged in oak for 8 months with battonage, with 40% of barrels being less than 4 years old. Brae Restaurant took most of last years stock.
Champagne Minière – Brut Zero.
Blend of 35% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier, 25% Chardonnay. 85% 2009 and 15% 2008. Here we see a subtle variation on the Influence cuvée with no dosage. The balance is perfect. The warmth and ripeness of the 2009 adds hints of peach with subtle oak. Even with no dosage this wine has perfect balance and weight with the oak integration being perfect. The zero dosage appears to accentuate the floral white fruit aromas and salinity. It is interesting to compare the zero and the standard wine. Very different. Initially this Zero cuvée was not destined to be part of the portfolio, but some keen amateur Champagne aficionados convinced Frédéric to do this as a zero – with great success.
Champagne Minière – Influence Rose.
Blend of 35% Pinot Noir, 30% Meunier, 35% Chardonnay. 80% 2012 and 20% 2011. 7% Pinot Noir as red wine addition. Dosage 7g/litre. From three separate vineyards. The 2012 component shows us the majestic power and complexity of this vintage. Dried fruit and smoky strawberries, citrus and a fine saline spine gives us a food worthy style. The chardonnay component enhances the purity and linearity. Think crispy quail, seared tuna. The oak is subtle, yet adds a complex layer of acidity and spice. This is bottled in a clear bottle and is wrapped in UV proof red cellophane.
Champagne Minière – Influence 2007.
This is Frédéric’s first wine and it is almost pure vintage blanc de noirs. 45% Pinot Noir, 50% Meunier and a tiny 5% Chardonnay. 90% 2007 and 10% 2006. Dosage 5g/L. Disgorged July 2015. Only a few thousand bottles were made and most sold in a flash a few years ago. Frederic kept a few bottles back for enjoyment and friends and has graciously given me a small allocation. Smoky saline red fruits – intense, rich and complex. The oak lifts the minerality and perfume of the meunier. Hugely complex. An astonishing ‘first wine’ from a ‘new kid in town’. We shared this wine with Frédéric and other Australian Champagne aficionados at Racines Restaurant in Reims in May this year. Poised and balanced with subtle power. Very limited