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Disgorgement dates ‘reduce winemaking to numbers’

The recent obsession for including the disgorgement date on Champagne bottles is “reducing winemaking to insignificant numbers” according to one producer.

Brother and sister duo Anne and Antoine Malassagne of AR Lenoble

Antoine Malassagne, co-owner and winemaker at AR Lenoble has made the deliberate decision not to include disgorgement dates on the back labels of his Champagnes.

“The recent obsession with disgorgement dates is reducing the winemaking process in Champagne to insignificant numbers, which are not understood by most of the people talking about them.

“These false dichotomies of ‘either/or’ rarely do much except to intellectually compromise multi-layered ideas and processes,” he said.

“There is no ideal disgorgement date. It depends on the specific wine in question. For non-vintages, it depends on the year of the base wines, the quantity and age of the reserve wines and the amount of time spent in the cellars.

“For vintages, there is no unique golden rule. Each vintage is different and must be cellared and aged differently,” he added.

Rather than jumping on the disgorgement date bandwagon, Malassagne said he would prefer to “enlarge the conversation” by expressing a different point of view.

“People who have never made a bottle of Champagne are dictating what they think the right amount of post-disgorgement time is supposed to be. It’s different for every producer, for every village, for every vintage, for every wine,” he said.

AR Lenoble was founded in 1920 by Malassagne’s great-grandfather Armand-Raphaël Graser. Malassagne has run the estate with his sister Anne since 1993.

The pair are committed to transparency in both the vineyard and the winery. This isn’t the first time Malassagne has spoken out against common practice in Champagne.

Last September he told db that the vintage Champagne category is being exploited by certain houses that are upping production to raise their prices.

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