Champagne Drappier: Three Ground-breaking Champagnes
Michel Drappier with his children Hugo, Antoine and Charline
© Philippe Martineau
Few Champagne houses push the boundaries of possibility and expression as consistently as Drappier. The family-run estate in the Aube, a southern satellite of the Champagne region, has pioneered low-sulphur and low-dosage Champagnes long before this was fashionable.
Michel Drappier, always inquisitive, is now joined by his three children at the estate: Charline, Hugo and Antoine. Their input pushes the house further and the family has now presented a trio of limited-release Champagnes: one is a historic interpretation, the other a ground-breaking Fromenteau-based Champagne, the third an exquisite expression of place.
Champagne Drappier Clarevallis Extra Brut
It was St. Bernard of Clairvaux who was sent from Cluny in Burgundy to found the Abbey at Clairvaux – Clarevallis – near Bar-sur-Aube in Champagne in 1115. The cellar built for this abbey in 1152 is today owned by the Drappier family. The Drappiers also own vineyards that have been farmed since that time, the Saint Esprit parcel in Urville, for instance. It is planted to Pinot Noir, the grape brought by the Cistercians from Burgundy which gradually supplanted the varieties that had been cultivated since Roman times. Certified organic and farmed with horses, the Clarevallis Champagne, based mostly on Pinot Noir with ultra-low sulphur levels of just 20mg/l and without dosage, is thus a nod to a less technical past. Of course, the historic wines of the region were still not sparkling, but the wine is a beautiful expression of the Kimmeridgian soils and an acknowledgement of the ingrained wine culture of this subregion.
Champagne Drappier Trop m'en faut! Fromenteau Zéro Dosage
This is the world’s only Champagne made from 100% Fromenteau – the grape variety you will know as Pinot Gris. Grown on the single, south-facing vineyard parcel Les Truchots, also farmed by horse, the Pinot Gris was planted in 2010. The wine is highly individual and supremely scented, showing what elegance this pink-skinned grape is capable of in the right hands. It definitely has the body of Pinot Gris and makes for an intrinsically gastronomic Champagne.
Champagne Drappier “Les Riceys” Rosé Brut Nature
Les Riceys may be a a collection of sleepy villages and hamlets in the Aube region, but lovers of Pinot Noir know that it is a treasure. Famed for its Pinot Noir and limestone soils, the commune has a long history of producing a still rosé wine known as Rosé de Riceys, a favourite of Sun King Louis XIV. Pinot Noir from Les Riceys also makes its way into some of the best prestige cuvées of the big Champagne houses who either hold land or buy grapes here. The Drappier family owns vineyards here and has now bottled a ‘village wine’ for the first time. From a single parcel in the village, this is a 100% Pinot Noir Champagne with a deeply pink hue, achieved by an initial carbonic maceration of grape clusters – again a nod to local custom and history. Half of the base wines were fermented in oak, underlining the texture, richness and depth of the Pinot Noirs sourced here. Disgorged without dosage, Michel Drappier says about this decision: “We thought this is history. This is really Burgundian, of course it has to be brut nature. We could not obscure these aromas with any sugar.”
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