Emmanuel in Ruppert-Leroy's vines in the lieu-dit les Cognaux.

New Arrivals in Champagne: Étienne Calsac and Ruppert-Leroy

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The talented and personable Étienne Calsac is one of a group of young growers on the rise in Champagne. Located in Avize, Calsac took over his grandparents' vines in 2010. He works the vines organically, though not certified. There is grass planted between the vines and plowing (by horse in some cases) to keep the weeds down. In the cellar he works fairly hands-off, vinifying the individual parcels separately and fermenting and aging the vins clairs in a combination of tank and used barrels. All the wines go through malolactic fermentation and dosage is with MCR (concentrated grape must). Upon first tasting, the resulting wines are supple and charming with a frank mineral character that seems to emerge from within.

The wines from today's offer hail from the 1er cru villages of Grauves in the Côtes des Blancs and Bisseiul on the southern flank of the Montagne de Reims, as well as the grand cru village of Avize. All offer distinctive interpretations of chalk from the broad palate of the Grauves-dominant l’Échappée Belle, to the powerful, majority-Chardonnay Rosé de Craie, and the electric and nervy single parcel Clos des Maladries in Grand Cru Avize. And though each wine can be enjoyed today, there's enough character and structure to warrant setting aside a couple of bottles to experience more mature and knit expressions of each cuvée.

While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's wines inhabit this space with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes them naturals for the table. A visit to the vines with Emmanuel Leroy of Ruppert-Leroy in Essoyes in the Côt des Bar is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village. According to Emmanuel, this is especially desirable to biodynamic growers seeking to encourage biodiversity. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard.  One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in Spring a few years ago  was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tisane by Emmanuel and Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.) Such is the committment to biodynamic viticulture that they sell the grapes from the first three rows of each parcel that abuts conventional growers rather than blend potentially sprayed grapes with their untreated fruit. The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The wines are vinified and bottled without SO2. John McIlwain

 

Calsac, Étienne NV 19b Champagne 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs L'Échappée Belle

The 2019 base l’Échappée Belle reminds us of the beautiful purity and vibrancy of Étienne Calsac’s Champagnes. Though the domaine is located in Avize this wine speaks more to its origins in Grauves (considered Côtes des Blancs, though more aligned in character to Coteaux Sud d’Epernay according to our friend writer Peter Liem) with a just a nod towards the south-facing village of Bisseuil on the lower slope on La Montagne de Reims.

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $44.99

  • Organic

Calsac, Étienne NV 19b Champagne 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Les Rocheforts

100% Chardonnay planted in the 1980s from the southeast-facing Les Rocheforts lieu-dit in the 1er cru village of Bisseuil on the Montagne de Reims. Aged in tank and barrel and blended with a reserve wine from a perpetual cuvee dating from 2012.

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $64.99

  • Organic

Calsac, Étienne 2018 Champagne Projet Comète No. 1 Blanc des Blancs 1er

Projet Comète is the inaugural release in a series of "ephemeral" releases: one wine, one bottling one, time. The 2018 release is comprised of Chardonnay from three plots over chalk, one barrel  (1450 bottles), aged under cork and bottled without dosage.

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $109.99

  • Organic

Calsac, Étienne 2017 Avize Grand Cru Clos des Maladries

100% Chardonnay from a tiny 0.16 hectare south-facing parcel in Avize. Fermented in tank and barrel. Disgorged  bottled without dosage. With vines planted in the 1970s, the chalk-soiled Clos des Maladries is a true Clos (enclosed by walls) and plowed by horse and farmed organically.

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $129.99

  • Organic

Ruppert-Leroy 2017 Champagne Brut Nature Martin Fontaine

Emmanuel Leroy and Bénédicte Ruppert are guiding a second-generation, deeply biodynamic domaine in the southern Champagne village of Essoyes, just north of the Burgundy Border. Martin Fontaine is a steep parcel of Chardonnay with a south/southwestern exposure. Fermentation is with indigenous yeast, alcoholic fermentation and elevage take place in a combination of used Meursault barrels and demi-muid. The wines are bottled without dosage or addition of SO2. The 2017 Martin Fontaine presents a pale yellow robe with a fine bead and soft mousse. The nose offers aromas of tangerine peel, candied ginger, soft herbs, and brine. The palate is ripe, but nervy, with flavors of grapefruit pith, quince, and orange oil on a broad, juicy, mouthwatering finish. This combines the typical expansiveness of the Aube with mineral precision adroitly. Lovely. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $79.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Ruppert-Leroy 2018 Champagne Brut Nature Pinot Noir "Les Cognaux"

While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's 100% Pinot Noir Champagne Les Cognaux hits this sweet spot with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes it a natural for the table. Here's a wine that will stand up to  all manner of savory dishes, while leaving the palate refreshed. A visit to the vines with Emmanuel Leroy of Ruppert-Leroy is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village, which in the case of biodynamic growers is especially desirable to insure a biodiversity according to Bénédicte. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard.  One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in the Spring a few years ago  was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tissane by Emmanuel and Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.) The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral.  Vinified and bottled without SO2. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Ruppert-Leroy 2018 Champagne Brut Nature Pinot Noir "Papillon"

 From a parcel of massale-selected Pinot Noir vines within the  Fosse Grely vineyard in Essoyes. Pretty aromas of peach skin, salted orange peel, and golden apple on the nose. The palate is lush and red-fruited with notes of Queen Anne cherry, spice, and wet stone. This combines fine concentration with a sapid, mineral core. Bottled without SO2. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $79.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur