According to data from Comité Champagne, there are more than 16,000 Vignerons of Champagne, owners of almost the entire vineyard in the Region (about 90%) who have been working the wines for generations, handing down the traditional techniques applied in the vineyard and in the cellar.
If until a few decades ago, most winemakers sold their grapes to the Maisons that bought grapes or must to be transformed into wine and marketed with their own brand, in the recent years the new Vignerons are emerging, the last generations of winemaking families who sometimes detach themselves from the family Domaine to follow their own path. They are the so-called Récoltant-Manipulant, Vignerons who produce Champagne from their own vineyards and sell them under their own brand.
Eager to experiment, Vignerons create their Champagne by re-appropriating more traditional techniques and combining them with the practices of modern agriculture and winemaking. Organic and biodynamic agriculture, minimal interventions in the vinification stages, spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, parcel vinification to highlight the typical characteristics of each terroir, limited editions; these are some of the principles that translate into unique author Champagne with a renowned reputation, even at an international level.
Laurent Lépitre is a young Vigneron, heir of a family tradition long over a century in Coulommes-la-Montagne, in the Montagne de Reims. In search of his own identity but with firm roots in the traditions of his family, Laurent created his first limited edition Cuvée, namely Champagne Extra Brut Le Levant 2017 and Champagne Extra Brut Le Couchant 2017 according to the principles of agriculture biodynamic. In the cellar the vinification is natural, spontaneous fermentations with indigenous yeasts in barrels of at least 15 years of age are favored and any external intervention is limited to a minimum. Strengthened by the savoir faire handed down to him, Laurent Lépitre has created real designer Champagne.
In Coulommes-la-Montagne also, Maxime Ponson represents the fifth generation of the récoltant manipulant Ponson family. Vigneron eager to experiment and follows his own path, Maxime detaches himself from the Domaine Pascal Ponson and begins his production on a small plot of just over one hectare granted by his father. Maxime follows the principles of organic farming, does not use chemicals and currently the vines are in organic conversion. The cuvées elaborated by him, including the Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Meuniers 2017, 100% Meunier, vinify naturally, without filtration, thermoconditioned passages or cold stabilization.
Since 2018, Vincent Cuillier, the latest generation of the Cuilliers of the Domaine Cuillier, manages his 1.02 hectares of vineyards (on 4.5 hectares of the family Domaine) in Pouillon, a village in the Montagne de Reims, and begins the production of his first Cuvées. His management is "tailored" and certified HVE - Haute Valeur Environmentale, ie the vines are cultivated using the "sustainable" viticulture method. In the cellar, spontaneous fermentations with natural yeasts are favored, and the vinification is done for individual plots and without the addition of vin de réserve and final dosages, in order to highlight the typical characteristics of each terroir and grape variety. All of Vincent Cuillier's Champagnes are artisanal Champagne in a limited edition for true enthusiasts: we recommend his Champagne Brut Nature l'Arbre, 100% Meunier.
Among the Vigneron news of the Montagne de Reims, we also find Celia and Stephane Parmentier, currently at the helm of the Domaine Parmentier Frere & Souer, in the village of Merfy. The management of the property follows the principles of organic and biodynamic agriculture (in biodynamic conversion since 2019). Among the practices used in the vineyard there are the management in permaculture and the free grazing of chickens and sheep in the vineyards in order to regulate the fertilization of the land and the growth of herbs in a natural way. In the cellar, spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, no filtration or addition of sulphites. The dégorgement is done by hand, "à la volée" as per tradition. The vinification is done in single-variety for single plots and strictly "millesimé". The Parmentier Champagnes are limited edition for true and few enthusiasts: the Champagne Extra Brut Le Caqueray 2016, 100% Chardonnay with a limited edition of only 1,420 bottles, is a Blanc de Blancs which vinifies and ages in oak barrels with indigenous yeasts without oenological or filtration contributions.
Aurélien Clément, 4th generation of Vigneron Récoltant-Manipulant of the Domaine Clément & Fils, in 2013 has taken over from his father in the management and development of the property. Based in Congy, a village in the Val du Petit Morin, the Domaine, strongly linked to peasant culture, is managed according to a traditional approach but with a forward-looking gaze aimed at sustainable agricultural practices, such as encouraging the development of endemic plants in the vineyards in order to promote biodiversity. Clément & Fils Champagnes are authentic, artisanal, a reflection of a savoir-faire handed down from generation to generation. His Champagne Extra Brut Myosotis Champêtre, which takes its name from the flower Myosotis, or “forget not”, present in all the vineyards of the Domaine during spring, is a wine of great expressiveness and richness.
In Celles-sur-Ource in the Côte des Bar, Thibaud Brocard has been managing the Domaine Pierre Brocard since 2012 and with the aim of creating pure and authentic Champagne he conducts a responsible and sustainable viticulture: parcel vinification mainly from a single vine and long aging on its own yeasts. All the wines are vinified mainly in steel to enhance the characteristics of the terroir and are processed under nitrogen to minimize the addition of sulphites. In this case we recommend the Champagne Extra Brut Absimilis 2018, a Blanc de Blancs from 100% Pinot Blanc grapes. Maceration of the whole bunch for 17 days in concrete tanks, vinification in steel and aging on its own yeasts for about 3 years. This Cuvée is a real experience, a wine that is based on opulence and maturity.
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