Le Jardin de la Grosse Pierre
|Practices||Biodynamic, Certified Organic, Organic|
|Grapes||Arbane, Chardonnay, Chasselas, Gros Plant, Meunier, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Teinturier|
|Other Features||Indigenous yeasts, Natural, Unfiltered|
100% from Bouzy Grand Cru. Soil: Brown chalk – Root-stock: 4lB – Planting density: 8400 plants/hectare – Pruning type: Chablis. Field blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Arbanne, Chasselas, Petit Meslier , Gros Plant, Teinturier and other varieties. This cuvée is named after the single parcel of the same name. The oldest vines were planted in 1923 by Benoît’s great grandfather, at a time when vineyards were inexpensive. The vines in Champagne usually average 30 year old and it is a rarity to have vines that are as old as 90 years. In 1952, Benoit’s grandfather replaced some dead vines by other varieties, some unknown or now forgotten. Combined with the age of the vines, this diversity gives the wine a great complexity and rare aromas. Until 2009, the wine made from this parcel was blended with wine from other parcels. After tasting it separately, Benoît recognized its unique character and decided to make a special cuvée from it. The 2009 vintage was aged for 10 months in 225l old barrels, bottled in July 2010 without filtration, then kept an extra 28 months in bottles before release. No Dosage. 140 cases made.
About the Producer
Benoît Lahaye is located in Bouzy, a Grand Cru village in the Montagne de Reims region. His family has been making Champagne since the 1930’s, and he and his wife Valérie now work in their winery with their two sons. The estate covers a tiny 4.8 ha, with 3 ha in Bouzy, 1 ha in Ambonnay and .6 ha in Tauxières. Bouzy brings structure, power and fruit, while Ambonnay brings acidity and roundness. The vineyards are mainly planted with Pinot Noir (just under 90%) on south/southwest facing slopes. The vines average 35 to 40 year old. In addition, a .2 ha parcel of 50 year old Chardonnay is planted in Voipreux, in the southern Côte des Blancs. Since it is far away from Bouzy, these vines are worked by Pierre Larmandier. The total production is less than 40.000 bottles per year.
Farming practices: in 1995, Lahaye took the decision to allow grass to grow in the totality of the vineyards. He works the soil in order to aerate it and limit competition regarding water intake by the vines during certain periods of the year. The estate is fully organic since 2003, and 2007 was the first vintage Certified Organic. Lahaye only uses his own compost, and also some organic manure as a complement. Various herb infusions are applied, along with other fermented extracts from plants, copper-based (in regulated quantities) and sulphur-based preparations, and essentials oils in order to combat plant disease. Since 2009, Lahaye has been applying the principles of biodynamic viticulture to further the every-day work, improve the characteristics of the terroir, and reveal the full potential of the soil and the vines. Benoît says that the switch to biodynamic practices has brought higher potential alcohol at harvest, but also higher acidity and more anthocyanins. Tamise, a 7 year old working-horse from the Auxois breed, joined the team in 2010. Tamise helps in the vineyards, from ploughing to spreading the compost or picking up the frames. Since 2010, the estate has been certified as biodynamic by Biodyvin.
Vinification practices: in the cellar, the work is as minimal as possible. The major part of the vinification is achieved in Bordeaux (225 liters) and Burgundy (228 liters) oak barrels. Only natural yeasts are used, and no chaptalisation is done - a practice conducted by many estates. The wine is aged for 10 months on the lees without any racking. All the wines now go through malolactic fermentation: with the biodynamic practices, they have enough acidity and fruit to go through it, and it is not necessary anymore to stop the malolactic fermentation by adding sulfites. The barrels are in a building with windows, so that the wine "sees the seasons" before being bottled. As of the 2012 harvest, all base wines are fermented in barrel. The wine is bottled on a fruit day, or sometimes on a flower day. All the bottles are turned over with gyropalettes. There is no difference with manual riddling, and it allows to gain time and be in the vineyards when there is a lot of work to be done there. The bottles stay 7 days in the gyro for stabilization, before the 7 days riddling process. Since 2008, Lahaye has been experimenting with making wines without the addition of sulfur, bottling a "sans soufre" cuvée called Violaine.