Champagne

Champagne de Sousa

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The Estate

Located in the heart of the prestigious “Côte des Blancs”, Domaine de Sousa has been in existence for three generations, on renowned soils listed as Grands Crus (Avize, Cramant, and Oger). De Sousa Winery has been devoted to authenticity and quality since its inception. Their cultivation of older vines, use of organic fertilizer, and respect for the terroir have produced exceptional quality wines at bargain prices since 1986.

The Terroir

  • AOC: Champagne
  • Production: 70-75,000 bottles De Sousa and 30,000 Zoémie De Sousa
  • Founded: Prior to 1890
  • Acreage: 11 Ha
  • Layout: 42 different lots
  • Geology: 100% Chalk

Cultivation

Domaine de Sousa is committed to using older vines to produce excellent champagnes. For its cuvees prestiges, grapes are only selected from vines that are more than 50 years old, with very small yields (25-30% less than the appellation, for 8,000 vines per ha). For its other vintages, an average of 70% of vines 25 years or older are used. These vines produce small yields, but result in a strong expression of the soil, and good maturity of grapes.
These older vines have roots called “pivots” which descend up to 10 or 12 meters to extract salts and trace elements from the chalky soil. The deeper the root is, the farther away it is from fertilizers, and the more it extracts nutritive elements from the soil, which guarantees high quality grapes.

  • Fertilizers: Organic fertilizers authorized by EC regulations
  • Pruning: Chablis – Cordon de Royat
  • Grapes: 30% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, 60% Chardonnay (70% old vines)
  • Average Age of Vines: Over 45 years of age
  • Grafting: 41 B
  • Yield per ha: according to the appellation, about 60 hectoliters per ha
  • Plantation density: 8,000 vines/ha
  • Plantation of New Vines: Only when necessary to replace older vines
  • Antibotrytis Treatment: None
  • Insecticide Spraying: Limited; only when necessary

The Wine-Making Process

Erick De Sousa, a subtle wine-maker, regulates the temperature at 18°C, in order to preserve the aroma of his wines. The 5.5 ha vineyard is harvested completely by hand, as late as possible, so as to pick the ripest grapes with the strongest fragrances.
When making his wine, he uses traditional methods taught to him by his father (a wine producer from a long line of them) who opted for malolactic fermentation to soften his wines. He also applies the old technique of a -4°C cold period with the aim of obtaining the clearest possible Champagne. Erick also applies his family know-how to the blending of the old wines to balance his wines and get consistent quality.

  • Origin of yeast: Technical Oenological Center
  • Fermentation time: 15 to 20 days
  • Chaptalization: When necessary to obtain 11% alcohol
  • Temperature Regulation: Immersed cooling coil
  • Fermentation Temperature: 18°C
  • Vats: Coated steel end barrels
  • Cuvee Wine: 75% in 1992, 100% since then
  • Filtration: Lightest possible
  • Wine-maker: Erick De Sousa
  • Oenological Advisor: James Darsonvilles

Fermentation

Vinification in coated steel vats preserves the authenticity of the soil. Domaine de Sousa managed to have one year of stock for the blendings. Since 1995, vinification is done in small oak barrels to give matter to the wine.

Maturation

In the chalk cellar, the temperature is maintained at a consistent temperature of 10°C. The wine matures slowly in the darkness and perfect quietude.
2.5 years of production are kept in cellar as a buffer stock. The remuage is carried out manually.


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Brut Tradition

Overview: The”Brut Tradition” Champagne is a blend of several vintages (50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier). It owes its roundness to the Pinot Noir, its vinosity to the Pinot Meunier, and its freshness to the Chardonnay. These grapes come from vines harvested at complete maturity.

Tasting Notes: Clear and brilliant, with shades of green. Forms a thick, tight head when poured and leaves a delicate, long-lasting “necklace” of bubbles at the surface.

Reviews:

“Firm and smoky, with ripe and juicy Honeycrisp apple, mango and raspberry compote flavors, layered with rich hints of pastry and salted butter that linger on the well-cut finish. Drink now through 2020.”

91pts, Wine Spectator

“(50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier; 6 g/l dosage): Light yellow-gold. Bright citrus and orchard fruits on the fragrant nose, with hints of jasmine and chalky minerals building in the glass. Plush and seamless but focused too, offering sappy pear and nectarine flavors and a hint of bitter orange zest. Turns firmer on the incisive finish, which shows suave mineral and floral character.”

91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

PDF Tyson Stelzer’s Champagne Guide Review Wine Spectator Shelftalker

Rose

Brut Rosé NV

Overview: The “Brut Rosé” is a blend, but its composition (90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir) is quite unusual. The Chardonnay grapes, selected for their freshness, vibrancy, energy, and finesse, come from the village of Grauves.  However, the Pinot Noir grapes–lending red berry aromas (strawberry, raspberry)–hail from the village of Aÿ. What distinguishes this rosé Champagne is its high quantity of Chardonnay.

Tasting Notes: Salmon pink in color with orange highlights. The nose is upfront, with fruity notes (apples and red berries). The palate is soft yet crisp, displaying balance and freshness. The fruity character remains subtle, making this charming cuvée an ideal rosé Champagne, perfect with red berry desserts and many other dishes.

Reviews: “Dark pink, with a hint of onion skin; the color of a red wine from Arbois, even darker than some. Deep and smoky on the nose, with a spicy, vinous raspberry and cherry tone verging on Burgundian in character. Quite spicy, the cherry and wild berry flavors tinged by notes of clove, mace, cracked pepper and cayenne. A singular wine that would go perfectly with pungent cheeses or cured meats.”

91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

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cuvee-3a

Cuvée 3A Grand Cru

Grape Varietals:

50% Avize–Located at the heart of the Côte des Blancs, Avize is a village classified as Grand Cru Chardonnay with soils comprised of the purest chalk in all of Champagne. It is also home to belemnite fossils, which date back millions of years and lend freshness, minerality, and finesse to this wine. This cuvée is made up of a selection of grapes harvested from 50-year-old vines, which are then carefully vinified in 225-liter oak barrels.

25% Aÿ–A village classified as Grand Cru Pinot Noir, Aÿ is located where the Marne Valley meets the Mountain of Reims. The slopes’ unique, full southern exposure and irregular topography allow the Pinot Noir grape to express its aromas of ripe fruit with power and finesse. These vineyards are planted with ancient varietials of Pinot Noir that produce small fruit with unique aromas. This historic village boasts sedimentary and limestone soils in which there is a high proportion of chalk.

25% Ambonnay–Ambonnay, a village classified as a Grand Cru Pinot Noir, is located on the Mountain of Reims-a vast, forest covered plateau where the grape vines are planted in chalky soils. The forest plays the role of balancing the cold evening air that descends onto the plateau with the warm air produced during the day that rises toward the summit. The vines used were originally planted in the 1950s; they have low yields, but the grapes show greater maturity and more concentration. Unlike Chardonnay, a fragile, delicate varietal, Pinot Noir is vigorous and is well-adapted to limestone soils to yield wines that stand out for their power and consistency. The aromas are very elegant, boasting red berry notes.

Avize, Aÿ, and Ambonnay are the only three villages in Champagne classified as Grand Cru whose name begins with an “A”. This explains how this cuvée got its name, but what makes it unique is its composition of 50% Chardonnay from Avize blended with 50% Pinot Noir from Aÿ and Ambonnay.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in color tinged with copper highlights, this champagne boasts intense, fine bubbles. It is dense and full, a sign of great richness in flavor. The nose is flattering, with typical notes of Chardonnay such as lemon, pineapple, and especially mango, heightened by butteriness from its oak barrel aging. Aromas of red berries such as blackcurrant and raspberry, typical of Pinot Noir, can also be detected, along with scents of licorice. The vinosity of the wine on the nose is echoed on the palate by the presence of Pinot Noir, which lends a velvety, unctuous smoothness to the freshness and minerality of the Chardonnay. A well-balanced wine that will delight all wine lovers who are fond of unique cuvées.

Reviews:

“With grapes from the three villages of Aÿ, Avize and Ambonnay, this blend of 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is a strict and firm wine, very aromatic, beautifully ripe with some roundness. Flavors of tropical fruits mix with concentrated minerality. For aging.”

93pts, Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast (Cellar Selection)

“(50% Chardonnay from Avize, raised in oak, 25% Ay Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay; 3 g/l dosage): Light, bright yellow-gold. Potent orchard fruit, red berry and jasmine scents show very good clarity and pick up a smoky nuance with air. Chewy and tightly focused on the palate, offering ripe pear and blood orange flavors and a jolt of chalky minerality. Rich yet lively and precise, finishing with strong thrust and suave, lingering florality.”

92pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

“The bright golden NV Cuvée 3A Grand Cru Extra Brut is a 50/50 blend of old vine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three grands crus: Avize, Aÿ and Ambonnay. The youngest edition is based on 2011 and displays a generous bouquet with spicy flavors of (new) oak, intertwined with ripe white and red fruit, as well as lemon aromas and some mineral flavors. Pure and fresh on the palate, with generous tropical fruit aromas, this is a rich and full-bodied Champagne with mineral tension, fine tannins and a persistent finish. Still pretty young, the 3A has a good ageing potential.”

91+pts, Stephan Reinhardt, eRobertParker.com


Caudalies

Cuvée des Caudalies

Overview: Caring for the vines and the soil is the first step in quality wine making. That’s why Erick De Sousa uses biodynamic techniques to revitalize his terroir. “Cuvée Caudalies” is yet another testament to the consistent quality of his production. This blanc de blancs is vinified entirely in oak barrels (15% new oak). The grapes come from vines over 50 years old.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in color. The nose is elegant, delicately punctuated by woodsy aromas. This polished Champagne offers creamy texture and harmonious structure. The wood notes are present but well integrated.

Food Pairings: Enjoy this distinguished blanc de blancs as an aperitif with caviar toasts. It’s also excellent with a thick slice of turbot, shellfish in Champagne jelly, etc.

Reviews:

“Fine power and weight here in this mineral-tinged Champagne. It’s richly textured and intense, with citrus, vanilla and pastry flavors that linger nicely on the finish. Drink now. 150 cases made.”

90pts, Wine Spectator

“A blend of 13 vintages, beautifully ripe and round, even with some maturity. Fresh citric fruit cuts through the richness and flavors of pineapple. There is a tang in the texture, an almost chewy structure. Age this wine for a year or two.”

94pts, Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast

“Bright yellow. Sexy smoke- and mineral-accented aromas of candied citrus fruits, white flowers, iodine and chamomile, with a hint of vanilla in the background. Sappy, penetrating and seamless in texture, offering juicy tangerine and pear flavors underscored and lifted by a chalky mineral element. Closes toasty, spicy and very long, leaving notes of brioche and poached pear behind.”

92pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

“…offers a deep and rich bouquet of pineapples and grapefruit. Full and pure on the palate, very salty and full of tension, this is a rich and gorgeous wine of great expression, tension and hedonistic Chardonnay fruit. This is a great Champagne that combines richness with purity and minerality.”

93pts, Stephan Reinhardt, eRobertParker.com

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umami

Cuvée Umami Grand Cru

Overview: This Cuvée from De Sousa is inspired by but also completely embodies the term “umami”, which originates in Japan.  Umami is the 5th basic flavor, along with sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness, and is hard to define exactly, but is best described as being a delicious, savory taste.  This champagne can be described as such as it is characterized by its rich, velvety texture, depth of flavor, elegant minerality, and sapidity.

The Vines: The biodynamic techniques employed by the winemakers contribute greatly to the resulting flavor of the wine by increasing the life of the soil, facilitating the development of mycorrhizae which aid the vines in water retention and nutrient absorption, producing grapes that are richer in sugar, maturing acids, and harvesting grapes that have reached their full physiological maturity.  The vines used for this Cuvée are more than 50 years old with low yields.

Vinification: The vinification process incorporates indigenous yeasts, after which the wine is matured in 225L oak barrels, with stirring of the fine lees.

Grape Varietals: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir

Soil: Chalk

Alcohol Content: 12.5%

Tasting Notes: The Umami has an intense and captivating bouquet, with caramel and toasted bread aromas.  The Chardonnay grapes contribute elegant notes of apple and pear, while the Pinot Noir grapes lend black currant and raspberry savors.  This champagne leaves a soft, long-lasting sensation on the palate, and has a delicate salinity which awakens the taste buds and causes slight salivation in the mouth.  The density and vibrant minerality of this wine is imparted by the quality of sugars, glycerol, ripe acids, and alcohol.

Reviews: 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards-Silver

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Champagne François Secondé

Overview

For centuries, Sillery has been known as the region which produces some of the most sought after Champagnes in the world. Right at the heart of this renowned terroir, you will find Champagne François Secondé, a vineyard covering an area of just over 5 hectares and located in Sillery, Mailly-Champagne, Puisieulx, and Verzenay. François Secondé is an independent wine maker (vigneron independant), and the only récoltant manipulant (one whose grapes are not sourced, but come from his own vineyard) and producer of pure Sillery Champagne.

History of the Vineyard

At the age of 14, François Secondé left school and started to work as an apprentice in a vineyard. He bought his first vineyard in 1972, and in 1976, he increased his plot to 3 hectares. With the help of his wife Anne-Marie, he started producing his own Champagne. Today, Champagne François Secondé vineyard is 5.5 hectares and harvests two grape varietals: 2/3 Pinots noir, and 1/3 Chardonnay. The vines are 37 years of age on average and are farmed in a sustainable way with respect to both nature and man.

History of Sillery

Sillery became renowned at the beginning of the 17th century thanks to Nicolas Brûlart–owner of Sillery Castle and vineyard. He was Henry IV’s Chancellor and this connection helped him to get his wine tasted by the king and his inner circle. At its peak in the 18th century, Sillery’s reputation was reported by Edme Béguillet, attorney to the parliament of Dijon, oenologist, and famous for his dislike of Champagne’s wine makers. He said of Sillery wines that “their quality is so superior that only the king deserves them”.


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Champagne Brut Grand Cru

Cru: Sillery

Average Age of Vines: 38 years

Location: Montagne de Reims

Grape Varietals: 1/3 Chardonnay, 2/3 Pinot Noir, and 30% reserve wines

Vinification: Malolactic fermentation

Maturation: 18-24 months with manual riddling

Dosing to Disgorgement: 8g/l

Characteristics: Golden yellow hue, highlighted by a string of sparkling bubbles. The nose is mineral and floral with notes of freshly baked pastries. The palate is balanced with hints of rich, lightly toasted brioche, and exotic fruit. To be served chilled at a temperature of about 8 °C.

Reviews: “(roughly 65% pinot noir and 35% chardonnay, all from Sillery): Light gold. Toasty pear, melon and nectarine aromas are complemented by yellow rose and sweet butter. Chewy and broad on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering bitter pear skin and pit fruit flavors and a hint of ginger. Closes smoky and very long, with lingering spiciness and a hint of redcurrant.”-91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Awards: Silver Medal 2012 Independant Winemakers Competition;
Silver Medal 2014 Brussels World Competition


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Champagne Brut Rosé

Cru: Sillery

Average Age of  Vines: 38 years

Location: Montagne de Reims

Grape Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir with 20% reserve wines

Vinification: Malolactic fermentation

Maturation: 24 months with manual riddling

Dosage to Disgorgement: 8 g/l

Yield: 4,000 bottles per year

Characteristics: Clean, well-defined rosé; floral, subtle, quite pure, with a creamy texture on the palate.  The bubbles have finesse and linger on the tongue. Serve as an aperitif or with desserts made with red fruit.

Reviews: “(all pinot noir): Bright orange-pink. Fresh red berry and orange zest aromas show very good clarity and a chalky mineral overtone. Juicy and precise, offering vibrant redcurrant and raspberry flavors and a touch of bitter orange. The mineral quality comes back on the energetic, clinging finish, which shows a hint of toasty lees.”-90pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Awards: Gold Medal 2014 Paris General Agriculture Competition; Gold Medal 2015 Paris General Agriculture Competition; Silver Medal 2015 Independant Winemakers Competition


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Champagne Blanc de Blancs Sillery Grand Cru

Cru: Sillery

Average Age of Vines: 48 years old

Location: Montagne de Reims

Grape Varietals: 100% Chardonnay

Vinification: In vats with malolactic fermentation switching to barrels; no filtration

Maturation: At least 36 months, manual riddling

Dosage to disgorgement: 8 g/l

Characteristics: Star bright yellow color with intense bubbling, forming a persistent bead. The nose is powerful and fresh with aromas of acacia, honeysuckle, and candied fruit. The palate is bursting with notes of white flowers, spice, citrus, and brioche with fresh butter. Very nice aromatic persistence; well-balanced and harmonious. Pairs well with white meat.

Awards: Gold Medal Chardonnay of the World Monde 2014 & 2015


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Coteaux Champenois Sillery Blanc

Cru: Sillery

Grape Varietals: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sillery

Vinification: Vinification in wooden vats and barrels with malolactic fermentation; unfiltered

Maturation: Aged in wooden barrels for at least one year before bottling

Characteristics: Golden color, aromas of citrus, vanilla, and exotic fruit on the nose. The attack is fresh, and this vintage holds its body well on the finish. Pairs well with cold starters, oysters, as well as fresh chevre. Served chilled at 7-8 ° C.

Reviews: “(a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir that was raised in used oak vats and barriques; 11% alcohol): Pale gold. Aromas of dried pear, fig, vanilla and honey, with a smoky mineral overtone. Chewy and incisive on the palate, offering bitter pear skin and anise flavors that flesh out with air and pick up toasty lees and ginger qualities. Finishes firm and long, with lingering spiciness and a touch of sweet butter. There’s a nice blend of richness and energy here. Coteaux Champenois is the appellation used for still wines in the Champagne region.”-90pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous


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Coteaux Champenois Sillery Rouge

Cru: Sillery Grand Cru

Grape Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir

Average Age of the Vines: 60 years old

Location: Montagne de Reims

Vinification: Long fermentation with 2 pumpings per day; Vinification in wooden vats and barrels with malolactic fermentation; Unfiltered.

Maturation: Aging in wooden barrels and vats for at least one year

Characteristics: Ruby red color; this wine is fresh, fruity, and light. Drink now with grilled meat or red fruit desserts. Served chilled at 8 °C

Reviews: “Bright ruby-red. Racy, mineral-tinged red fruits, blood orange and fresh rose on the nose and in the mouth. Taut, sharply focused and pure, with surprising power for its delicacy. The mineral and floral elements dominate the finish, which leaves white pepper and redcurrant notes behind. Really intriguing stuff, and there’s only 11% alcohol here.”-91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

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Champagne Puisieulx Grand Cru Les Petites Vignes

Location: The village of Puisieulx was classified as Grand Cru; the vineyard has a surface area of less than 18 hectares and is positioned towards the southeast. The soil is light and chalky.

Average Age of Vines: 47 years

Grape Varietals: 50 % Chardonnay, 50 % Pinot Noir

Vinification: Alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation

Maturation: 24 months minimum

Characteristics: Intense nose and fine aromas of mature fruit with a touch of vanilla. Delicate on the palate with a beautiful minerality


clavier_07

Champagne Brut Cuvée Clavier

Average Age of Vines: 42 years

Location: Montagne de Reims

Grape Varietals: 2/3 Chardonnay; 1/3 Pinots noir, 10% reserve wines

Vinification: In vats with malolactic fermentation

Maturation: 24 months, with manual riddling

Dosage to disgorgment: 8g/l

Yield: 2,000 bottles/year

Characteristics: Complex and aromatic on the palate, dominant notes of citrus and fresh butter characterize this ample, fine, and elegant champagne which pairs beautifully with most meals.

Reviews: “(65% chardonnay and 35% pinot noir): Bright yellow. Intensely fruity scents of honeydew, poached pear, Meyer lemon and jasmine. Offers plump orchard fruit and melon flavors and a hint of candied fig, picking up a bitter citrus nuance with air. Closes with good clarity and length, leaving a subtle toasty note behind.”-89pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Awards: Gold medal 2010 Brussels World Competition

Champagne Lacourte-Godbillon

The Estate

Located in the Premier Cru village of Écueil on the west bank of the “Petite Montagne de Reims”, these vines have belonged to the Lacourte & Godbillion families for generations.  The very first planting of Champagne vines was prior to 1947, however Jean-Guy Lacourte and Claudine Godbillon had their very first harvest under the name Lacourte-Godbillion in 1968.  In 2006, almost 40 years later, Richard Desvignes and Geraldine Lacourte decided to leave their executive city jobs to come back to the family vineyard.  This new life of wine making has been a total revelation for them, and they strive to follow the philosphy of their ancestor, Jean-Guy Lacourte: “Only the highest quality grapes can produce a high quality wine.”  The estate now includes 20.5 acres of vines (95% planted in Écueil, 5% in the neighboring village of Les Mesneux).

Cultivation

The vineyards are worked exclusively by Lacourte-Godbillion’s team.  They plow during the winter to break up the soil, and mow the grass between the vine rows to maintain and develop soil vitality.  There is no use of any pesticides, weedkillers, or other anti-botrytis treatments.  Their goal is to control the number of buds and shoots so that new growth is consistent and well spaced out.  Care is taken to separate out the shoots; keeping the vine canopy well aerated with no overcrowding of leaves or grape bunches results in only the highest quality grapes.  Harvest is done manually.

Surface Area: 8 ha
Average Age of Vines:
30 years old
Grapes Varietals: 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay

This particular terroir is characterized by an incredibly diverse sub-soil. Some sections are predominantly sandy over a layer of deep chalk, others are composed of “Sparnacian” clay and shallow chalk at the bottom of the hillside, similar to the soils of Les Mesneux.

Vinification

Lacourte-Godbillon has a clear vision for their winery: a wine must reflect its terroir.  The wood for the oak barrels either comes from Ecueil’s forest or from Champagne-Ardenne.  The harvest from each plot is pressed and vinified separately and the juice is not pumped, but moved by gravity as far as possible to allow the resulting wine to retain its intrinsic qualities.

Fermentation

The fermentation process is temperature-controlled and monitored daily.  The wine is left in tank or barrel in contact with the lees for the autumnal season.  No racking is done in order to develop complexity and unique personality.  For the wine fermented in oak barrels, no stirring or filtering is carried out.  The chilling process is done outside to utilize the seasonal cold temperatures.

Maturation

The bottles are aged in the cellar for 30 months and up to 7 years.  This is followed by an average resting time of 3-6 months after the yeast deposits have been removed by disgorgement.  The optimum dosage for each wine in each year is decided by several trial tastings.  The objective is to find the best possible balance as each wine is a living being with its own character.


Champagne Brut 1er Cru Terroirs d'Écueil

Overview: The Brut Premier Cru Champagne is a blend of two varietals (85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay).  It rests in cellar for a minimum of 27 months (2.25 years) and can easily be aged for 3-5 years.  It is ideally served as an apéritif at 8-9°C.

Tasting Notes: The color is pale yellow with a slightly golden hue.  It has good intensity and reveals aromas of sweet almond and freshly baked brioche.  The attack on the palate is very fresh and concentrated with notes of ripe white fruit balanced out by a delicate acidity.

2016 Release Reviews:

“Come-hither nose of vanillin, peaches, and cream, supported by a generous mousse.  Pinot Noir to the fore here with mouth-coating brambly fruit. Drink 2017-2022.  Alc 12%.”-90pts, Decanter

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Champagne Rodez

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The Estate

The Rodez family has been making wine for nine generations, beginning as far back as 1757.  The estate of Champagne Rodez is located in the Grand Cru that is Ambonnay, the heart of Pinot Noir country, and spans an area of 6.12 hectares.  The property consists of 35 parcels of vines, and the grape varietals planted are 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay.  The vineyards are planted at a fairly high altitude (about 130 meters), and are situated on a clay-limestone soil, two factors which are ideal for growing Pinot Noir.

Eric Rodez, current vineyard manager and head oenologist for the estate, has worn many hats in his day.  Not only was he at one time the Mayor of Ambonnay, but he was also formerly an oenologist at Krug where he developed his winemaking/blending methods that would later be employed on his own estate.  Eric, along with his wife Martine and son Mickael, manages all aspects of the winemaking process at Champagne Rodez.

It was while traveling in Alsace and other wine growing regions that Eric gained an appreciation for organic and biodynamic vineyard practices.  It is through these methods that he believes the resulting wine truly expresses the characteristics of the terroir.  Eric hesitates to use the word organic, because he is not certified, but as a grower he uses no pesticides, fertilizers, or synthetic sprays on his plants.  In 2012, Champagne Rodez was the first French agricultural domaine to receive the Haute Valeur Environmentale certificate for their efforts towards organic and biodynamic farming and water management on the estate.  In the vineyard, Eric plows his soils and limits his yields through careful pruning.  Vinification is done in either oak barrels or enameled steel vats.  The annual production of the estate is about 45,000 bottles.


crayeres

Cuvée des Crayères

Overview: Champagne of body and spirit made by the marriage of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay.  Straight, round, generous, the Cuvée des Crayères is made on average from a dozen different wines from 4 to 5 different vintages, with 50 to 55% of the wines vinified in small oak barrels, with 65 to 70% reserve wines helping to bring homogeneity.

Varietal Blend: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay-Les Grandes Ruelles, Les Bouités, La pierre aux Larrons, Les Cheminots, Les Secs, Les Fournettes, Les Agusons, Les Beurys, Les Hauts Tourets

Average Age of the Vines: 30 years old

Vinification: Out of tank for 42%, out of barrels 58%.  Partial malolactic fermentation (with malo 65% and without 35%)

Dosage: 5 grams

Tasting Notes: This Champagne has a delightful golden hue with luminous highlights.  The nose reveals floral and mineral notes and, upon aeration, red and white fruit savors.  The palate is fresh and generous, playing with notes of spring berries.

Reviews:

“Light yellow-gold. Aromas of Poire William, white flowers and honey are lifted by a zesty mineral topnote. Fleshy and dry on the palate, offering very good lift and clarity to its bitter quince and peach pit flavors. Closes on an emphatic, sharply focused mineral note, with firm grip and spicy persistence. “-91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

“…Voluminous yet graceful, lively and absolutely delicious.”-Asimov, Eric. “The Year of Champagnes You’ve Never Heard Of.” The New York Times. 24/12/15

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rose

Rosé Brut

Overview: This brut Champagne is the achievement of the association of the Pinot Noir of maceration (40%), Pinot Noir (30%) and Chardonnay (30%), the latter bringing delicacy and elegance. The winemaker also resorts to the stored wines, up to 40%.

Type of Vine: 27% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Noir of maceration

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay, contrées: Les Grandes Ruelles, Le Moulin, Les Bouités, La Pierre aux Larrons, Les Cheminots, Les Hauts Tourets

Average Age of Vines: 32 years

Vinification: Out of tank for 20%, out of barrels 80%.  Partial malolactic fermentation (with malo 49% and without 51%)

Dosage: 4 grams

Tasting Notes: The color is marked by the maceration of Pinot Noir.  The nose is complex, powerful, long, with a predominance of red berry notes.  The palate is smooth and powerful, with hints of subtle oak.

Reviews: “‘I will not assemble a red wine and a white wine,’ declares Rodez.  ‘For harmony, I will assemble pink wine of pinot noir macerated on its skins with white wine,’ thus merging the maceration and blending techniques of rosé production.  His pinot noir suits rosé very well, making, as he puts it, the red berries more explosive.  There’s real focus here, and excellent concentration of red cherries, strawberries, and mixed spice, breathtakingly fresh and primary for a rosé already an average age of seven years on release.  Its salty mineral expressionis outstanding, all the more incredible for its tremendous fruit prescence.  An expertly crafted rosé that captures an elusive balance of character prescence, and finesse.”-95pts, Tyson Stelzer, Champagne Guide

Tyson Stelzer’s Champagne Guide Review PDF

blanc-de-blancs

Blanc de Blancs NV

Overview: This is a brut Champagne produced exclusively out of several harvests of Chardonnay, from different years.  For this cuvée, the winemaker usually blends 5 or 6 vintaged productions in order to ensure the same delicacy along the years.  This Champagne is very flowery, delicate, and sensual.

Varietal Blend: 100% Chardonnay

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay, “Regions of Heart in Mid-Coast”: Les Secs, La Loge, Les Genettes, Les Morins, Les Champsaults. “Regions of Spirit”: Les Crayères, Les Agusons, Les Cheminots, La Grande Ruelle

Average Age of the Vines: 31 years old

Vinification: Out of tank for 18%, out of barrels 82%.  Partial malolactic fermentation (with malo 20% and without 80%)

Dosage: 4 grams

Tasting Notes: It is of a subdued gold color, with touches of green.  The nose is both fruity and floral, and expresses hints of chestnut after rotation.  The attack is good, vinous, with an elegant gustatory persistence.

Reviews: “While Ambonnay’s soils are far from an exact match to the Chablis Kimmeridgian, Rodez’s NV Brut Blanc de Blancs — vinified largely in tank and reflecting some half-dozen vintages — displays the most uncannily Chablis-like character I can recall from any Champagne, mingling hints of mushroom with salted, herbed chicken stock, and fresh lemon with sea breeze and oyster shell. The primary fruit character on this cuvee’s seamless palate is simply tart-edged, juicy apple and lemon, but it brings with it into a protracted finish some of the characteristics intimated in the nose. The apple tartness and hint of mushroom are very slightly awkwardly juxtaposed, but this fascinating and delicious wine ought to prove very interesting and talented at table. I would, however, monitor it carefully if planning to hold bottles for any more than a year (Nov 2013).”-90pts, David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate

“Light yellow. Poached pear, chamomile, sweet butter and toasty lees on the deeply scented nose. Picks up a spicy nuance with air, which adds lift to the ripe orchard fruit and candied fig flavors. In a powerful style but not lacking for vivacity. Finishes toasty and long, with a hint of grilled nuts and very good length.”-91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

“…Richer and fuller than the blanc de blancs you might find from, say, Vertus, but pure and beautifully balanced with great finesse and minerality.”-Asimov, Eric. “The Year of Champagnes You’ve Never Heard Of.” The New York Times, 24/12/15

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blanc-de-noirs

Blanc de Noirs NV

Overview: This brut Champagne is produced from Pinot Noir harvests only.  For this cuvée, the winemaker generally blends 5 to 6 vintaged productions to make sure the cuvée will keep its character.  It is even better-balanced and meatier than the Blanc de Blancs.  It is complex, with a slight hint of red fruit, very elegant, offering a longer finish.

Varietal Blend: 100% Pinot Noir

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay, “Regions of heart in Mid-Coast”: Les Beurys du Haut, Les Goisses, Les Secs, Les Fournettes, Les Genettes, Les Hauts Touret, Les Vaux Saint Basles.  “Regions of Spirit”: La Pierre aux Larons, Les Bouités, Les Grandes Ruelles

Average Age of the Vines: 33 years old

Vinification: Out of tank for 20%, out of barrels 80%.  Partial malolactic fermentation (with malo 30% and without 70%)

Dosage: 4 grams

Tasting Notes: Light gold in color, with shades of copper.  It offers a fruity nose, together with flavors recalling spring after rotation.  The attack is dense, meaty, filling the palate with flavors of citrus fruit.

Reviews: “Light gold. Spicy blood orange and strawberry on the nose, with subtle floral pastille and musky herbal character. Bitter cherry and orange pith flavors are impressively concentrated and focused. Aeration brings up a sweeter raspberry quality that carries through a long, incisive, smoke-tinged finish. This powerful Champagne could handle the richest cheeses and charcuterie with ease.”-91pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

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cuvee-des-grands-vintages

Cuvée des Grands Vintages

Overview: This Champagne is exclusively made out of the juices from several years’ first pressings of the best vintaged productions.  Among the choices of wines offered by Champagne Rodez, the Cuvée des Grands Vintages is the Champagne one wishes to offer to celebrate the important moments of one’s life, with its golden color, with hints of copper and sometimes of light orange.

Varietal Blend: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay

Average Age of the Vines: 34 years old

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay, contrées: Les Secs, Les Beurys, Les Goisses, Les Genettes, Les Vaux Saint Basle, Les Fournettes, Le Noyer Saints Pys, Les Morrins

Vinification: Out of barrels 100%; no malolactic fermentation

Dosage: 3 grams

Tasting Notes: The expressive nose will immediately reveal enticing aromas of toffee and marmalade.  It benefits from a good cellaring potential, the elegance of which will be appreciated through a full, powerful, and flavorsome palate.

Reviews:

“The multi-vintage Rodez NV Brut Cuvee des Grand Vintages…delivers the layered mystery that I seek in the best Ambonnay wines, beginning with a nose of gentian and violet; ocean breeze, and crustacean shell reduction; not to mention intimations of the white peach, apple, grapefruit and pineapple that go on to constitute the luscious, tart-edged fruit matrix on this wine’s polished palate. There is both a shimmering mineral expression and a salivary gland-tugging saline savor in the long finish. Look for this to impress at table for at least another 2-3 years.”-92pts, David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate

“Bright yellow-gold. An intriguingly perfumed nose evokes poached pear, orange zest, sweet butter and honey, along with a smoky quality and a chalky mineral overtone. Chewy, very deep citrus and orchard fruit flavors are complicated by suggestions of toasted brioche, white truffle and candied fig. Finishes very long and smoky, with resonating floral and mineral qualities. I’d serve this complex Champagne, which comprises wines from 15 different vintages dating back to 1995, with an indulgent, buttery poultry or shellfish dish.”-93pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Tyson Stelzer’s Champagne Guide Review PDF

millesime-2006

Champagne Brut Millésime

Overview: This brut Champagne is produced out of juices from the same harvest.  Its delicacy may be compared to that of the Cuvée des Crayères because the proportions in the blending of the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir are the same (50%-50%), but it is clearly more complex, offering a longer gustatory persistence.  This cuvée, made of the juices from vine plants that have grown in the middle of the hillside, reveals the complexity of its origins.

Varietal Blend: 58% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay, “Regions of Heart in Mid-Coast”: Les Secs, Les Goisses, Les Champsault, Les Genettes, Les Haut Touret, Les Vaux Saint Basles.  “Regions of Spirit”: Les Crayeres, Les Cheminots, Les Grandes Ruelles, Le Moulin

Average Age of the Vines: 36 years old

Vinification: Out of tank for 9%, out of barrels 91%.  Partial malolactic fermentation (with malo 11% and without 89%)

Dosage: 3 grams

Tasting Notes: Golden in color with hints of yellow.  The nose is long, with hints of ripe pear and touches of recently cut hay.  The vinous palate, full and fresh, is remarkably well-balanced.

Reviews: “Light, bright gold. Pungent, deeply pitched aromas of dried pear, redcurrant, honey, smoky lees and sweet butter. Broad and fleshy on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering juicy red berry, orchard fruit and orange pith flavors that show a refreshingly bitter edge. Finishes on a toasty, leesy note, with excellent clarity and strong mineral-driven persistence.”-92pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

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les-beurys

Les Beurys Pinot Noir

Overview: This wine is the culmination of work begun over 25 years ago and expresses the soul of the noble terroir from which it is produced.  The role of the winemaker is limited to respecting the integrity of and working with the terroir.

Varietal Blend: 100% Pinot Noir

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay contrées: Les Beurys

Exposure: East

Average Age of the Vines: 35 years old

Vinification: In small oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation, no artificial refrigeration, no filtration

Dosage: 3 grams

Tasting Notes: This wine has a sensuality which comes from the terroir and is supported by a minerality that comes from the chalk present in the soils

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les-genettes

Les Genettes Pinot Noir

Overview: This wine is the culmination of work begun over 25 years ago and expresses the soul of the noble terroir from which it is produced.  The role of the winemaker is limited to respecting the integrity of and working with the terroir.

Varietal Blend: 100% Pinot Noir

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay contrées: Les Genettes

Average Age of the Vines: 41 years old

Vinification: In small oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation, no artificial refrigeration, no filtration

Dosage: 3 grams

Tasting Notes: Tasty and sweet, this wine sees all its generosity enhanced by minerality provided by the methods of the winemakers.

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empreinte-chardonnay

Cuvée Empreinte de Terroir Chardonnay

Overview: This series is intended to express the work of man on his soil.  The role of the winemaker is limited to making every effort to respect and preserve the integrity of the level of expression of the vintage.

Vinification: In small oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation, no cold stabilization, no filtration but a lot of passion

Varietal Blend: 100% Chardonnay

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay contrées: Le Noyer Saint Pys, Les Secs, Les Agusons, Les Champsaults

Average Age of the Vines: 39 years old

Dosage: 3 grams

Tasting Notes: The single grape variety of Empreinte de Terroir seeks only to emphasize the characteristics of the vineyard terroir, across the vineyards, and waltzing across the vintages.  For some vintages, the comparison of varieties bring an extra dimension.

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empreinte-pinot-noir

Cuvée Empreinte de Terroir Pinot Noir

Overview: This series is intended to express the work of man on his soil.  The role of the winemaker is limited to making every effort to respect and preserve the integrity of the level of expression of the vintage.

Varietal Blend: 100% Pinot Noir

Origin of the Grapes: Terroir d’Ambonnay contrées: Les Gennettes, Les Beurys, La Goisse, Les Bouités

Average Age of the Vines: 42 years old

Vinification: Out of oak barrels 100%; no malolactic fermentation, no cold stabilization, no filtration but a lot of passion

Dosage: 3 grams

Tasting Notes: The single grape variety of Empreinte de Terroir seeks only to emphasize the characteristics of the vineyard terroir, across the vineyards, and waltzing across the vintages.  For some vintages, the comparison of varieties bring an extra dimension.

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