Champagne Harvest 2015 – talking biodynamics with Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon and Johann Merle of champagne Roederer


Jean Baptiste Lecaillon in the biodynamic vineyard Les Chèvres in. Cumière

 On Thursday I had lunch with Jean-Baptiste Lecaillion and Johann Merle at the Roederer press center at Aÿ. As always we exchanged a lot on biodynamic and organic farming and how it helped Roederer this growing season. 
“This year we farmed 75 hectares of the 240 hectares of Roederer’s own vineyards biodynamical. We really see the difference in the way the vines coped with the heat this summer. Our fruit is ripe, flavorsome with a great freshness”, explains Jean-Baptiste, chef de Cave  at Roederer.  Johann the vineyard manager adds “this year was an excellent year to use contact products rather than synthetic ones. This is what we did in 98% of our vineyards. We treated only with copper and sulphur. And since we have not used herbicides for several years this means we just about farmed 240 hectares organically.”


Pinot Noir at les Chèvres

In the biodynamic vineyards Roederer likes to work according to the Maria Thun calendar. This is why they chose to harvest les Chèvres (for the Brut Nature) and the Domaine Cristal Rosé on Friday and Saturday – both fruit days. “On fruit days the energy is different which makes that the fruit flavors are more concentrated; this is excellent for the Rosé and the Brut Nature”, explains Jean-Baptiste. 

On Friday we met at les Chèvres to see the harvest. The vineyard used to belong to Pascal Leclerc till 2010 but Roederer has been purchasing the juice since 2002. The vineyard is split in 3 parts, and planted with Chardonnay, Meunier and Ponot Noir in equal parts. The 3 grape varieties are harvested the same day and are pressed together in tradional Coquard presses in the press centre of Aÿ.  This is very unusual as the different grapes varieties have different ripening cycles. 

Roederer press centre in Aÿ

 The Aÿ press centre has 5 tradional 4000 kg Coquard Presses. It is one of 3 press centers Roederer owns. In Verzennay they have a centre with second generation Coquard presses (pressoir à met tournante) whilst in Avize they press with pneumatic presses. 
All in all Jean-Baptiste is very happy with the harvest up till now. “2015 will be a great year, we have a lot of dry material, and low pH’s, so we have lots of terroir specific flavors and a great freshness. This year it really paid to be very present in the vineyard during the growing season as it is this which guarantees the beautiful result we see”, concludes Jean-Baptiste. 

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