The small Champagne growers lovingly hand-craft their wines according to organic and natural principles. With low intervention and manipulation, the grapes are unfettered and allowed to shine. The wines authentically mirror their terroir, often produced from just a single family-owned vineyard. These growers are poets. They create wines with a finesse, a complexity, a flavour that is beyond compare.
Champagne Alexandre Filaine
Wine Maker– Fabrice Gass
Words can’t describe the happiness and laughter I have shared with Fabrice and his wife, Elizabeth. From the first time they welcomed me into their cosy kitchen that smelled of sweet strawberries, I felt enveloped in their warmth.
Fabrice’s wine is luscious, rich and powerful, yet so elegant and balanced. It is full of beauty and it sings of his terroir and his style. His burgundy barrels add such a depth to the wine – they are over 100 years old and come from the prestige house of Champagne Bollinger.
Fabrice produces around 4,000 bottles of wine each year, and these are all lovingly crafted from his 1 hectare of terroir that is his home and his backyard. It is here, along the Marne River, that he manually records and hand riddles every bottle, knowing that one day, the marshmallow foam will be released and savoured like a magical elixir.
I cherish the times I’ve spent with Fabrice and Elizabeth, but especially the day I walked with them down to their cellar carrying a rustic basket to collect some cuvees for tasting. Disgorging and releasing his babies that had been peacefully resting for years made me feel incredibly excited but also humble.
Fabrice and Elizabeth create their wine for pleasure and passion, and this I share wholeheartedly with them.
Champagne Vignier Lebrun SA
Wine Maker – Natahlie Vignier and Hubert Soreau
Natahlie and Hubert are simply outstanding. I truly admire them and their exceptionally delicate Chardonnay-driven wine that speaks so clearly of their terroir. They are genuine, gracious, loving people who have immense talent.
Natahlie’s family has been engaged in viticulture and winemaking for 10 generations. Based in the famous Grand Cru Village of Cramant, Côte des Blancs, all their wines are produced from their home. They hold 15 hectares spread over the Grand Cru’s of Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry, and also hold Natahlie’s great-grandmother’s Les Abbesses plot in the village of Vindey in Côte de Sézanne.
The way they value and recognise the characteristics and personality of each grape demonstrates their profound and elegant artistry.
I have been fortunate to spend time with Natahlie in her vines just before harvest. She has shared such unique insights with me into their terroir and geography, their viticultural and winemaking practices, the science, and the maturity and evolution just before picking the grapes. These have been such eye-opening educational experiences that have only whet my appetite for more.
Natahlie’s philosophy ‘La bonté de l’esprit et la grandeur de courage’ (the goodness in spirit, and the courage to greatness). It’s this soulful mantra that connects me to my spiritual home and to the belief that anything is possible.
Wine maker – Michel Drappier
It was a magical day when I first came across Champagne Drappier in the village of Urville, Côte des Bar. Their enchanted, quirky house was built and occupied by Cisterian monks in the 12th Century and is filled with such a lavish tapestry of history.
I will never forget the first time I tasted their Carte d’Or Cuvée with its royal label, and the way it captured such aromatic opulence and elegant authenticity. This wine is so reminiscent of their rich Pinot Noir Kimmeridgian soils of the Aube.
Michel Drappier – such a kind-hearted, informative and open-minded man – controls their winemaking process, wine evolution, their science, theory, and their exclusive practices that uniquely comfort and protect their wine.
Michel’s father, Andre, is the man of the house, much admired and respected for his deep knowledge. Andre keeps a watchful eye over their vineyards that stretch over 50 hectares.
When they first warmly welcomed me into their home, we talked in their sitting room, while I listened to the chimes of the grandfather clock and gazed at the red roses growing outside the cherry oak windows. All of a sudden, I froze with shock and my face washed to pale. In had walked Andre – the God-like figure that I never dreamt I would be lucky enough to meet. This is someone I hold in the very highest esteem. A true legend. And yet here we were, sipping and savouring his wine - the wine of his family and the taste of Drappier.