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It is a truism that as much as wines reflect their terroir, they also reflect the personality of their grower. At Bérêche et Fils, the energetic brothers Raphaël and Vincent turn out a range of inspiring Champagnes, which seem to improve with every vintage. Since taking over the estate in 2004, they have worked organically, and have begun application of biodynamic treatments to a portion of the vines. In the cellar they have focused on fermenting in oak with native yeasts, aging under cork, and bottling with lower dosage. In addition to this, they have introduced their Crus Sélectionnées (a micro-negotiant) highlighting the specific terroirs of various villages.
The wines from their own vines in the Montagne de Reims and Vallée de la Marne are intensely flavored, mineral, and supple, balancing ripe fruit character with terroir distinction. The use of oak, as well as aging under cork rather than capsule for the secondary fermentation of the wines lends a faintly burnished character to the wines, adding an additional layer of complexity to the nose and palate. A highlight of the current releases is the 2012 Les Monts Fournois: a blanc de blancs from a south-facing parcel in Ludes, whose vines were planted in 1961 in a particularly chalky section of the hillside. The combination of sunny exposure and the chalk-rich soils makes for a distinctly powerful and mineral Champagne, with intense citrus flavors girded by pungent iodine notes. Of further note is the 2012 base Rive Gauche: an old vine Pinot Meunier from the Les Misy lieu-dit in the Vallée de la Marne, which radiates ripeness and a layered mineral complexity that is not to be missed! In addition to the domaine wines, we are pleased to offer a quartet of their Crus Sélectionnées wines, ranging from Vallée 1er cru Brut, sourced from fruit in the Vallée de la Marne and aged for 60 months, to recently-disgorged vintage grand cru bottlings from Cramant and Verzenay. John McIlwain
Sourced from the grand cru village of Cramant in the Côte des Blancs, La Côte Grand Cru 2007 is beginning to display the aged character of Champagne from the famed village, a balance of mineral precision with the burnished fruit character of long aging sur latte. On the nose lemon oil, honeycomb, and brioche aromas overlay hints of seashell, and stone. The palate shows hints of halzelnut, brown butter, Seville orange, salt, and crushed herbs on a creamy, rich, rounded, finish with fine bead and good persistence. (4g/L dosage, disgorged 01/16.) John McIlwain
A blanc de blancs with luxurious weight and depth from "Les Monts Fournois," a parcel with the premier cru of Ludes in the Montagne de Reims. With an extremely fine bead, there are intensely rich flavors of lemon drop meringue and candied red fruits (strawberry, cherry) that finish with subtle wisps of dried ginger and dried tarragon. Disgorged 11/15. Jonas Mendoza 2012 is the inaugural vintage of Les Monts Fournois from Bérêche. Sourced from a lieu-dit on the northern end of Ludes with particularly thin soils over pure chalk, and a southern exposure planted with massale-selected Chardonnay in 1961. Fermented in barrel with native yeast and aged under cork, Les Monts Fournois deftly combines power and precision in this blanc de blancs. The nose displays citrus peel, white flowers and wet stone, while the old vines, sunny exposure, and chalky soils lend a distinctly mineral core to the wine on the vigorous, verging on sinewy, palate while not sacrificing elegance. For lovers of chalky, powerful Champagnes, Les Monts Fournois is a delight. Bottled with 3g/L dosage. John McIlwain
100% old-vine Pinot Meunier sourced from the lieu-dit Le Misy, located in Port à Binson on the southern bank of the Marne river. Fermented with native yeasts in barrel and aged under cork, Bérêche's 2012 base edition of Rive Gauche makes a convincing case for Champagnes made from the oft-underestimated Pinot Meunier grape. The old vines restrict the sometimes overly exuberant quality of the variety, and while the wine shows lovely ripeness, there is a fine, almost briny minerality framing the generous fruit. The nose shows lovely aromas of stone and orchard fruits: white peaches, Rainier cherry, and golden apple, along with baking spice and dried orange peel. Similar fruit notes appear on the medium-bodied palate, with a layered mineral complexity lending structure and energy, not to mention a fine umami quality to the long driving finish. With some time in the cellar, the effusiveness of the fruit should integrate with the structure and make for even more compelling drinking. (disgorged 11/2015, 4g/l dosage) John McIlwain
Another impressive bottling from Raphaël Bérêche's Crus Sélectionnés, the 2004 Montagne Grand Cru, from Verzenay on the north slope of the Montagne de Reims displays the characteristic richness of the Pinot Noir-dominated wines of the village. With a golden robe and fine mousse, the Champagne is beginning to hit a fine point of maturity. The nose balances aromas of red fruits, beurre noisette, shortbread, and stone. The palate is supple with fine flavors of dried cherry, apricots, brioche, and dried mint, leading to a detailed, persistent, mineral finish. This shows grand cru volume and length while maintaining plenty of complexity and finesse. (disgorged 01/2016, 5g/l dosage) John McIlwain
The Bérêche NV Brut Reserve is among our perennially best-selling Champagnes under $50 at Chambers St. Wines; this cuvée is a richer, creamier version from Raphaël and Vincent Bérêche’s negociant range of Champagnes (Maison Bérêche). Aged 60 months in barrel from premier cru vineyards situated in the Vallée de la Marne, there are silky-textured flavors of lemon confit, lemon curd, wet chalk, and dried honey. Disgorged 1/16. Jonas Mendoza