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Telmont unveils 100% Meunier Champagne

Champagne Telmont has unveiled its Cuvée Sous Adrien – a single vineyard sparkling wine made entirely of Meunier from the 2012 vintage.

Speaking during his recent visit to London, Telmont’s fourth generation owner and cellar master Bertrand Lhôpital said: “In 2012 I decided, in order to know the terroir of this single plot, to vinify four of our plots separately, especially Sous-Adrien, in order to understand what would happen if I made single vineyard wines.”

The fruit for this new Champagne was sourced from a single vineyard, a first for the house. Situated west of Damery, the Lieux-Dits Damery parcel, with its clay and limestone soils, was previously used for Telmont’s blanc de noirs cuvée.

The 2012 growing season was one marked by a difficult start, with frost and hail causing problems, but a sunny conclusion that enabled those grapes that did survive to fully develop prior to harvest. At the time of harvesting, the Lieux-Dits Damery parcel was conventionally farmed, but it is now organic.

Vinification took place in oak barrels, and the wine was bottled in 2013. The wine was then aged in bottles, sealed with cork, for 9 years before it was disgorged in 2022. The dosage was 5 grams per litre.

“This is something very singular – Meunier’s not supposed to age well,” Lhôpital explained, but expressed his belief that the new wine proves the contrary.

Indeed, he is a strong believer in going into winemaking with the right attitude: “When you are involved, the wine is involved with you.”

On the nose, notes include raspberry seeds and freshly cut grass, while on the palate there is honey and some spices, including cinnamon and star anise. One suggested food pairing is jamón ibérico.

Just 900 bottles in total have been made of this new Champagne, which is distributed in the UK by Rémy Cointreau UK – Japan and the US will also be receiving an allocation.

When asked about this year’s harvest, Lhôpital said: “2023 is really impressive in terms of quantity, because of rainfall in August, the weight of grapes was amazing, especially of Pinot Noir and Meunier. We only had a light frost, which had no impact on the buds. Summertime was nice – we had water in the right places at the right times. Blossoming was quick and efficient.”

This year some of the heaviest bunches on record have been reported in the region.

“In terms of quality,” he continued, “it’s a bit early to give a prognosis or conclusion, it’s too early to give an expectation of the wine. Aromatic and sugar maturity were there when we began harvesting [5 September]. I believe that Meunier and Pinot Noir will be very interesting from this harvest, Chardonnay is also definitely a success. After picking we do have to assess what the impact of August’s rainfall was in terms of dilution.”

Speaking to the drinks business‘ Giles Fallowfield recently, Lallier directeur général and chef de caves Dominique Demarville noted that its Meunier had particularly suffered: “There’s some damage due to botrytis, mainly on the Meunier with a little bit on the Pinot Noir, but the Chardonnay, most of which is already picked [by 14 September], is very nice.”

Another observation Lhôpital made from this year’s harvest concerned the divergence of organic and conventional viticulture: “With organic vineyards, the frequency of rotted grapes was lower than in conventional vineyards. This is for two main reasons – first of all, it is Nitrogen. In organic vineyards, you have weeds and other plants, which mean there is a lower amount of Nitrogen for the vines, if you have too much Nitrogen the risk of rotted grapes increases. Secondly, the weeds compete with the vines for water, so if you have a lot of rainfall, the excess of water does not come through the vines to the berries. The sorting process is therefore much easier for organic grapes than non-organic ones.”

In total, 86% of Telmont’s vineyards, both estate-owned and partner vineyards, are certified organic or in conversion – the house aims to be 100% organic by 2031. To put that in perspective, only around 4% of the Champagne appellation is certified as organic.

Related reading:

Is organic production becoming a prerequisite for fine wine?

Telmont completes testing of lightest Champagne bottle in the world

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