There are about 5000 ‘growers’ in Champagne so we are led to believe. But only about half of these actually produce and bottle their own wine. This is where we have the RC versus RM designation. An RM or recoltant-manipulant, produce and bottle their own wine from their own vineyards. An RC or recoltant cooperateur has their wine produced by a local Cooperative. This Cooperative takes in grapes from many vignerons and produces large quantity blends of various cuvees. The Cooperative then hand back bottles to the grower to label and disgorge how they want. Champagne Pernet and Pernet in Vertus own 9 hectares of vineyards across Vertus, Ambonnay and Bouzy. They are an RC with bottles produced by the various Cooperatives in Vertus and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, but now Kurt Zimmerman has established an RM range from their own organic vineyard parcels. Kurt has been farming his best parcels in Ambonnay and Vertus organically for a number of years and finally decided to produce his own Champagnes. He has no press so his friend Pierre Larmandier presses the grapes.
A few years ago Kurt opened up a sensational restaurant in Vertus – Le Vendangeoir. Elegant food with great service, with a Japanese pastry chef. But sadly it eventually closed. It was always full of local vignerons, so it was sad to see it close. Staffing these village restaurants is difficult, with young people always being lured by working in Paris.
I first tasted these three vintage 2014 Champagnes in this offer during 2018 harvest (refer photo). They were very young (too young) and pure and reminded me very much of the Marie-Noelle Ledru style. The oak is subtle and the palates are intense and elegant witch a crunchy acidity. Now they have had more time on lees (total of 60 months), adding more citrus and savory overtones. Clearly is organic vineyard work has allowed him to retain beautiful acidity and texture, so he has no need to block malo-lactic fermentation at the moment. 2014 is proving to be an excellent vintage in the Cote des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims, so these three vintage cuvees from Champagne Pernet et Pernet are rare exceptional value.
Champagne Pernet et Pernet Vertus 1er Cru ‘Les Herbevoies’ Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru
Vintage 2014 from a single parcel organic chardonnay on the Le Mesnil side of Vertus. This vineyard has a gentle south east exposure. Full malo-lactic fermentation occurs, with 2/3 oak and 1/3 in stainless steel. Lovely citrus and spice from the subtle oak. Intense minerality that we expect from Cote des Blancs. Delicate mousse with a perfectly judged dosage of 5gm/litre.
Champagne Pernet et Pernet “L’Ambonnay” Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
Vintage 2014 vintage from two organic chardonnay parcels in Ambonnay, “Saint Remys” and “Les Beurys”. Full malo-lactic fermentation with 50% in oak and 50% in stainless steel. Stylistically broader and more white fruit in style than the Herbevoies – but this is Ambonnay, so we would expect that. Beautiful minerality with a precise dosage of 3g/litre.
Champagne Pernet et Pernet “L’Ambonnay” Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru
This is 2014 vintage from two organic pinot noir parcels in Ambonnay, “Le Terme Bazin” and “Les Toures”. Full malo-lactic fermentation with 2/3 in oak and 1/3 in stainless steel. Here the intensity and power of the pinot soaks up the oak adding to some minerality and citrus. Subtle red fruits. Understated elegance and this reminds me very much of the Marie-Noelle Ledru style. Dosage is perfect at 3g/litre.