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The roots of the Leclerc Briant house date back to 1872 when Lucien Leclerc established it in Cumiéres. It officially became a Champagne house in the middle of the 20th century when Louis-Bertrand Leclerc moved it to Epernay. The winery became the pioneer of organic grape growing and even the biodynamic approach in the region under his direction, when these approaches were practically non-existent across Champagne. The direction of the house was taken over by his son, Pascal Leclerc-Briant, who cultivated 30 hectares, thus proving that it’s possible to cultivate the grapes organically even on a larger plot. Following Pascal’s sudden death, a winemaking-loving American-French couple, Mark Nunnelly and Denise Dupré, purchased the house and what was left of the family estate, and continued the family tradition in the original approach. The French wife of the professor is a lover of wine culture, and together they’re doing everything to restore the house’s former glory. For the sake of rebirth, they’re buying back the old plots parcel by parcel, and currently have 8 hectares (a couple of years ago a one-hectare Grand Cru plot cost between 1.6 million and 1.8 million euros).
From the grapes grown on their own 8 hectares and bought in from another 14 hectares from contractual partners, they make 100,000 to 120,000 bottles annually. Besides looking after the vineyards, the winemaking is also gentler – they work with low yields, separate the must into several parts during pressing, and follow the principles of biodynamics. For the second fermentation, adjusted to the life rhythm of the vines, they bottle around June-July. The landscape is also extraordinary. Instead of the usual Champagne vista, between the low-cordon cultivated grapes there are natural soils, grasses and flowers everywhere. There are tons of insects and birds alongside the small rabbits typical of the region among the vines.
Low sulphur (the free sulphur is 15-20 mg/l, opposed to the average amount of 100 mg/l for Champagnes), an environmentally friendly approach, organic and biodynamic principles adhered to in all work details and phases.
The organic, biodynamic wine of the small Champagne house. Dark golden colour, nice mousse. Gingerbread on the nose, tiny and subtle bubbles. The palate is also sophisticated with apple notes. The majority is from a 2013 vintage wine, blended with minimal reserve wine. Dosage of 4g/l. The base wine (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay) was fermented for 9 months before bottling.