Champagne F&R Minière – Hermonville
A new emerging 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. Champagne is a huge region stretching 200km from north to south, and Hermonville is way north. Ravaged by phylloxera and the world wars, many vineyards were replanted in the mid sixties. Brothers Frédéric and Rodolphe look after 8 hectares of vines mainly in Hermonville. 4.5ha Meunier, 2ha Chardonnay and 1.5ha Pinot with average vineyard age of 45 years. The estate was founded by their great grand father in 1919 and traditionally sold all their grapes to the big houses, but in 2005 they decided to start there own business. Frédéric(pictured above) spent some time with Anselme Selosse and no doubt this has had a profound impact on his philosophy towards champagne production. All the wines are fermented and aged in barrel with battonage, and malo-lactic fermentation is blocked for all the cuvées. About 70% of barrels are 5 years or older.
The brothers have some interesting terroirs to work with. The upper hills are covered in sandy-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 unique and prestigious south to south-east exposure. The vineyards of Hermonville are like an amphitheatre. You walk out of Frédéric’s winery and stand at the back gate, and you can see all the vineyard parcels spread out across the valley. 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.
The brother’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 viticulture and vinification. They understand that making a ‘no-malo’ wine requires long cellar aging to allow the components to integrate and harmonize. Also they require a long resting time post disgorgement – at least 9 months. 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 Minière viticulture is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Preserving the biodiversity is paramount. The back labels are a joy! Everything is revealed! This is the third year of my work with Frédéric and it has been a privilege and joy to expand his philosophy in Australia. Nick Stock reviewed the entire range for Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine with euphoric praise – calling them ‘sublime grower Champagnes’.
Frédéric studied at the Lycee Avize and worked a number of stages at Selosse. It was this work with Selosse that reinforced his working methodology. The only vinification that could allow Frédéric to express old vine terroir intensity and personality was by using full oak vinification and maturation with the blocking of malo-lactic fermentation, followed by long term bottle aging. At the moment 5 cuvées are available but Frédéric has a plan to finally end up with 9 cuvées. Two un-grafted cuvées for sure and some blanc de noirs. But he is not in a hurry. Good things take time – especially in Champagne. We tasted a stunning Meunier out of tank which will be a new cuvee for release in 2027! Frederic uses the best natural corks that money can buy – Fleur.
Tim Hall writing for Jancis Robinson says – I think their wines are so good they may be rising star. The wines are very elegant in texture, with a lemon cream and saline hit and an obviously wood-touched smokiness, forest fern and moss. So refreshing!
Nature as a base, Beauty as a horizon, Excellence as a goal.
Champagne Minière – Influence. $95.00
Blend of 35% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier, 25% Chardonnay. Soils are sandy clay loam on limestone base. Dosage 5gm/litre. 85% 2011 and 15% 2010. The meunier component adds some complex aromatics and expands the flavor profile. Creamy and round with some smoky richness. Hints of yellow fruits, citrus and cocoa.
Champagne Minière – Blanc Absolu, $115.00
100% Chardonnay from a 50 year old single vineyard parcel – Les Moineaux. Here we have sandy loam soils on limestone. 82% 2011 and 18% 2010. Dosage 5g/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. Aged in oak for 8 months with battonage, with 40% of barrels being less than 4 years old. Very very limited.
Champagne Minière – Brut Zero. $105.00
Blend of 28% Pinot Noir, 45% Meunier, 27% Chardonnay. 81% 2010 and 19% 2009. Here we see a subtle variation on the Influence cuvée with no dosage. The balance is perfect. The purity and elegance of 2010 adds minerality 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. This is always one of my favourite cuvees and the 2010 based wine is sensational.
Champagne Minière – Influence Rose. $115.00
Blend of 35% Pinot Noir, 30% Meunier, 35% Chardonnay. 80% 2013 and 20% 2012. 7% Pinot Noir as red wine addition. Dosage 6g/litre. From three separate vineyards. The 2013 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. Very very limited.
Champagne Minière – Symbiose 2008. $150.00
50% Chardonnay from lieu dit les Moineaux and 50% Pinot Noir from lieu dit Les Voirmissa.Bottled in May 2009 with no malo. Dosage : 2.5 g/L. Disgorged 06/2017. This was first released two years ago but was quickly and correctly deemed to be in need of more bottle age. Now we see it in full glory. The purity is a shock. Citrus, minerals, salinity and white fruits. Hugely complex with amazing length. The oak sits in perfect harmony and appears invisible. The acidity of 2008 is in perfect balance with the fruit intensity and maturity. Symbiose has received much press in the UK at some high profile trade tastings. Destined to be a classic and sets the bar very high for the Miniere brothers. This cuvee will now be a regular release with the 2009 to follow next year. Very very limited.