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Drappier develops own yeast for Champagne

Champagne Drappier has isolated a native yeast from the producer’s estate in the Aube which it has used for the first time to ferment its must from the 2013 harvest.

Drappier Champagne specialises in large formats

The yeast has been taken from a patch of organically-farmed old vines owned by Drappier, and was used to start both the primary and secondary fermentations for Drappier’s Brut Nature.

Owner and winemaker at the house, Michel Drappier, told the drinks business that he would be analysing the wines made with his newly-isolated native yeast before deciding whether to inoculate all of Drappier’s annual production with the yeast.

“Tests will be made for three years,” he said, adding, “The idea is to use this ‘Drappier yeast’ for the whole range.”

Although he said that it was “too early” to comment on the style and quality of the vins clairs made using the indigenous Drappier yeast, he stressed that his aim was to produce “elegant wine”.

Such vinous experimentation is fitting for a Champagne house which is constantly attempting to refine its winemaking processes using natural and local resources.

As previously reported by db, last year Drappier became the first Champagne house to mature its wines in an egg-shaped oak container called the Ovum (pictured, below right).

Called the Ovum, the wooden vessel is inspired by Nomblot’s concrete egg, and costs around €30,000

Made by Taransaud, Drappier commissioned the vessel to mature wines for its Grand Sendrée prestige cuvée from the 2012 vintage.

The container is make using oak from the Aube, meaning that the Champagne is aged in wood harvested from Jurassic Kimmeridgian soil, which is the same substrate Drappier’s grapes are grown on.

Michel said, “The “egg” proportions represent the Golden Ratio and is considered to be the ultimate vessel to keep and mature wine.”

As well as Drappier’s experimentation with native yeasts and wooden vessels, the house has already commercialised a zero-added sulphur Champagne, as well as its Quattuor Blanc, which is made from the region’s full four permitted white grapes: Arbanne, Petite Meslier, Blanc Vrai and Chardonnay.

The house is also currently trialling the impact of underwater conditions on Champagne maturation having lowered 50 cases of Drappier on to the seabed outside Saint-Malo.

Speaking about this experiment, which he started last summer, Michel told db that a tidal influence moves the bottles gently under the water, which accelerates the ageing process.

Meanwhile, Drappier has also instigated the development of a special tool named the Vcanter which has been designed to serve very large Champagne formats (pictured below).

The product is a V-shaped decanting cradle made in Switzerland by an Italian designer, which is not only elegant to look at, but also pioneering due to its ability to handle any size of bottle.

The Vcanter can handle any size of bottle

The need for such an innovation was heightened by the fact Drappier was the first house to produce a 30-litre Champagne format, which it has called the Melchizedech, and appeared on the market back in 2008 (Armand de Brignac brought out a 30-litre bottle in 2011, which it has dubbed the Midas).

Finally, Drappier has opted to print disgorgement dates on every Champagne in its range from its 2012 bottlings onwards.

The information was previously printed only on the Drappier Grand Sendrée vintage prestige cuvée, which was launched onto the market in 1983 using the 1975 vintage.

Michel has printed the disgorgment dates on the labels for his vintage Champagnes, but carved the information onto the bottom of the bottle for his brut non-vintage.

Explaining his decision to include the information on the packaging, Michel said, “It’s useful for me as a consumer and for our customers, because we sell mostly to restaurants and private customers who are aficionados.”

For the future, Michel said he was focusing on improving the quality of glass used to package his Champagnes.

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