Champagne harvest 2015 – organic and biodynamic grape syncronicities at Aurélien Lurquin, Emilien Feneuil and Leclerc Briant

Aurelien's Meunier caviar!

Aurelien’s Meunier caviar!

This weekend it seemed my visits were very interlinked in more ways than one. Synchronicities had started to happen in a big way already on Friday, when I bumped into Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon and later saw my beloved pick grapes in the biodynamic Chèvres vineyard in Cumières. Later in the evening when I stopped off at Vincent Laval, I bumped into Hervé Jestin, who spoke about Aurlién Lurquin’s excellent juice he bought this year for Hervé Jestin.

I thus decided to visit both Aurélien and Leclerc Briant on Saturday. Aurélien was pretty happy about the harvest up till now even if he felt he was not completely ready before he started. I had expected to start around the 20th of September, but when I returned from holidays I saw the sugar levels were pretty high already in the grapes.In the end we started on the 9th, explains Aurelien. Most of his grapes are sold to Leclerc Briant, but he will keep a little less than 2000 kg of the grapes to make a Meunier and Chardonnay cuvee, as well as 450 kg of old vine Pinot Noir (planted by his grandfather) to make some coteau rouge.

Aurélien and Emilien discussing grape and wine deliveries

Aurélien and Emilien discussing grape and wine deliveries

Whilst I joined Aurélien in the cellar to taste some of the must, we spoke about different things: Hervé, different ways to suphite wine – Aurélien was particularly interested in the natural sulfur system Jérome Bourgeois uses – and the possibilities for him to make more wine himself in the future. I then all at once saw the tank with Emilien Feneuil’s organic juice. I had heard about Emilien at Aurélien Laherte earlier in the year and was very happy to hear he will start top make his own wines this year. He is keeping just over 4000 kg of fruit – half Chardonnay and half Pinot Noir – and his fruit is pressed in Aurélien’s 2000 kg traditional Coquard press. Even if did cause some practical tank issues it shows how the organic/biodynamic community is all linked cause just at that time Emilien arrived with more grapes and I got to meet him!
The syncronicity is also very meaningful on a personal level because of how I met Aurélien. More coincidences occured as just when I was about to leave, Frédéric Zeimett froim Leclmerc Briant called Aurélien to organize the next juice delivery, so I could tell him I was on my way:-)

WI in the Leclerc Briant's new press center and winery

WIP in the Leclerc Briant’s new press center and winery

In Epernay Frédéric Zeimett is very happy with his first harvest in the new winery, even if the winery and press center are far from finished. The tanks have not arrived in time so we are camping out a bit, but it is amazing to be able to press and receive juice here, he says. Leclerc Briant received their first juice on Monday the 7th September from Montgueux; at that time their press was still awaiting official approval from the CIVC which came later that day. They pressed their first grapes in Epernay in their 4000 kg Coquard press à met incliné on Thursday the 10th.

Frédéric explained that only certified organic or biodynaic grapes are kept, and the grapes from the vineyards in conversion are sold off in juice. At the moment about 4 hectares of their 8 hectares are certified, they purchase certified grapes from another 12 hectares. Frédéric is very pleased with this years quality and yield/ “The average yields are between 8000-11000 kg/hectare, which is what we expected. The potential alcohol percentage averages around 10,8% which is perfect, the grapes and musts have fabulous flavor profiles, a good density and low pH. Everything is here for an excellent vintage”, elaborates Frederic.

Leclerc Briant 's lying egg amphora

Leclerc Briant ‘s lying egg amphora

Besides investing in a new winery, Leclerc Briant also bought two lying egg amphora. When I visited one of them was filled with fermenting Chardonnay from Montgueux whilst the other contained Meunier from Hautvillers’ Basse Prière vineyard. I was just listening to the ferments when Hervé Jestin came in (yet another syncronicity!) to explain that the laying egg is actually a lot more natural form, as this is how the eggs are when they are in a chicken’s nest. I am interested to taste the wines from amphora in a few months time!!

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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