Anyone who reads this blog knows I like Champagne. Heck, let's be honest, I LOVE Champagne. I do like other bubblies (especially Cremants and Perlants, some Cavas and Proseccos too), but the French stuff is where it's at for me. Maybe it's genetic, who knows? So as someone who represents small, high-quality growers, it's killed me that I couldn't find a good Champagne at the right price point. Until now.
I was turned on to Champagne Bourgeois-Diaz in, of all places, Montpellier, which is in the South, nowhere near the Champagne region. A friend in the business in France proferred a glass and said "Tais-toi et bois" ("Shut up and drink"). Lo and behold, here was a gorgeous bubbly, tart with bright acidity and minerality, with lovely, lively fruit aspects. What is this, I inquired, and he showed me the bottle. A few quick calls and emails, and poof, here we are.
This tiny family-owned estate farms their own 7 hectares (17.29 acres), scattered around the town of Crouttes-sur-Marne, south-west of Reims. The vineyards are planted on clay and chalk soils, and composed of 55% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay and have a south-west exposition. All the wines are made using a traditional basket press, with a minimal dosage (9g/l for the Brut), and while the basic cuvée is aged in stainless steel, the higher end bottlings see some light oak ageing.
Jérome Bourgeois, the young winemaker, believes in showcasing his terroirs, and this is evident in the final product, which is both reflective of the high quality fruit he gets and a platform for the land’s characteristics.
To achieve this purity of expression of the land's character, Jérome has gone biodynamic. What does this mean? No man-made chemicals are ever used, a careful ecological balance is maintained in the vineyard by allowing cover crops to grow between the rows (check out the wild-looking vineyard in the picture above), and the biodynamic calendar is scrupulously followed, among other things. Whether you believe in biodynamie or not, maintaining a healthy vineyard and not polluting the earth can't be half bad. And the end product reflects this: the wines are alive with an energy one doesn't find in the mass-market bubblies out there.
Jérome currently makes four different cuvées:
-the Brut Distinguée (40% Pinot Meunier, 40% Chardonnay - of which 20% is vin de réserve - and 20% Pinot Noir);
-the Rosé Distinguée (an assemblage 40% Pinot Meunier, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, of which 18% is AOC Champagne still red wine);
-the Cuvée du Fils is a wine that sees some oak-ageing and is composed of 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay (half of which sees wood);
-Lastly, the 2004 Le Millesime is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, aged in oak barrels until Jérome feels it’s ready.
Best of all, Jérome is not afraid to experiment: his next projects will be a Zero Brut (no dosage added) and a Rosé de Saignée (meaning extended skin contact to extract the necessary color and flavor profiles).
I will be showing these wines around to various distributors in the next few weeks, so hopefully one of them will see the light and pick him up. How cool would it be to serve these wines sometime this Fall? Wish me luck!