Champagne as a region should be a challenge for organic growers. Before Anselme Selosse of Champagne Jacques Selosse or Champagne Fleury proved them wrong, it was even said that it couldn’t be done. The humid, chilly climate was too risky, and a grower could lose an entire crop to mildew. However, the region is now an excellent example of organic/biodynamic and ”natural” winemakers producing more interesting wines than the standard. Here is a list of champagnes with personality, class and good price/performance:
(*the price and number are for Swedish readers ordering from Systembolaget)
Francoise-Bedel, Entre Ciel et Terre, 370 SEK (77411, BS) – Francoise Bedel is a third generation grower. Since 1998, the entire property is farmed biodynamically, and the entire process of pressing through bottling is done in a traditional, hands-on manner. All of her champagnes have a lot of personality and body – they are vinous wines which should accompany a good meal.
Tarlant, Cuvée Louis Brut, 447 SEK (87609) The cask-fermented prestige bottling of Tarlant is 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir. It’s a lovely, full bodied champagne with plenty of personality and a searing acidity. Gorgeous with food or on its own. The small family producer Tarlant is not listed as organic, but they approach natural winemaking one step at a time. Last time I met them was at the RAW natural wine fair in London, where the entry criteria was strict.
Leclerc-Briant Brut Divine, 2004, 479 SEK (77537, BS) Leclerc-Briant was the single largest biodynamic producer in champagne up until June this year when the entire property was sold to Louis Roederer. It seems that Roederer will continue making biodynamic wines under the Leclerc-Briant name, but noone knows for certain. This wine, the flagship vintage Brut Divine, was made before the death of Pascal Leclerc Briant, and is thus in their traditional style. It has received accolades from Richard Juhlin and Wine Spectator and is a perfumed, buttery power-champagne.
Champagne Jacques Selosse VO, Substance (from a solera), Brut Initial… (Brukar vara del av TS inför nyår) The king of natural winemaking in Champagne is not listed as organic or biodynamic. Anselme Selosse simply doesn’t like to follow rules imposed on him by someone else. However, this is natural wine-making with brilliant results. His wines are in high demand and quite pricey, but all excellent. When you see a bottle – buy it and keep it for a while before drinking.
Duval-Leroy, Brut Organic, 359 SEK (77407, BS) The family owned house of Duval Leroy was founded in 1859 and makes both organic, biodynamic and conventional champagnes. All provide good price/quality ratios and are worth trying. The house is set in Vertus in the Cote de Blancs and is thus specialized in chardonnay.
Fleury Carte Rouge Brut, 349 SEK (82742, BS) Fleury is located in southern Champagne, in the Côtes de Bar. Their 15 hectares are all farmed biodynamically since the early 1990′s, making them one of the largest biodynamic producers. The Carte Rouge Brut is 100% pinot noir. Nutty, toasted but still with plenty of fruit character.
There are many more organic and biodynamic growers in Champagne, and so far the average quality (as well as price/performance) has proven much higher than for conventional champagne. I can only urge you to give ”green” a chance when looking for golden bubbles.