Rosé des Riceys
This little known AOC (only 30 hectares planted) comes from a tiny terroir named Les Riceys made up with three close-knit fortified villages named Ricey-Haut, Riceys-Haut-Rive and Ricey-Bas. They are in the Aube département of the Champagne region – closer to Burgundy than to their northern Champagne compatriots. Those villages have the choice between three AOC: Champagne, Côteaux Champenois and Rosé des Riceys.
Rosé des Riceys wines are rosés produced from Pinot Noir. They must reach 10º naturally. They are either fermented in stainless steel tanks for early drinking or in wood allowing longer ageing. They have a distinctive taste known to the French as goût des Riceys. Bonnet is the largest producer of Rosé des Riceys – total production for the appellation is 60,000 bottles.
Only produced if there is no rain at harvest time, this cuvée is made from perfectly healthy grains that have a potential minimum alcohol of 11.5%. It comes from “La Forêt”, a 4.2ha vineyard of 40 year old Pinot Noir vineyard located on a sunny hillside, with a uniquely expressive terroir and kimmeridgien soil. Very few other Champagne vineyards have such a vertiginous (40%), south-exposure slope that ensures, year in year out, perfect ripening of the fruit and exceptional potential alcohol. The yields are kept low for maximum concentration. The grapes go through a short semi-carbonic maceration in open tanks, during which 20% is crushed by foot to liberate the juice. The wine shows roundness, floral and spicy notes, freshness, structure, yet few tanins. Less than 3700 bottles produced. 12.5% alcohol.
About the Producer
Domaine Alexandre Bonnet is a grower champagne in Les Riceys, considered the Grand Cru of the Côtes des Bar, a Champagne region that lies at the border with Burgundy. The Domaine is comprised of 47 hectares of very steep Kimmeridgian-limestone vineyards, mainly planted with Pinot Noir - 43 ha. It is HVE3 Certified. Winemaker Irvin Charpentier is defining the house style of minerality, power, and a pure expression of this superior terroir. Each Contrée (plot) is vinified separately and each cuvée is made with only the first press juice, creating wines with pure aromas and distinctive character. In keeping with low-interventionist practices, the Domaine does not block malolactic fermentation and exclusively does Zero or Extra-Brut dosages, as they feel this produces the clearest expression of their terroir. They have cut their use of sulfites to a minimum, about 75% less than is currently used in Champagne. These are minimal-intervention, terroir-driven Champagnes from gorgeous sites, elevating the quality of the Côtes des Bar.
The Domaine Alexandre Bonnet is also one of very few producers to grow all 7 traditional grapes and is today the only one to produce a 7 grapes Champagne that is all together single vineyard, single vintage and single vinification process of each grape. Alexandre Bonnet also produces the rare yet famous Rosé des Riceys, a traditional semi-carbonic 100% Pinot Noir Rosé still wine. These are minimal intervention Champagnes from gorgeous sites, redefining the quality of the Côtes des Bar.
Farming practices: the vineyards have been certified "Viticulture Durable en Champagne” and "Hautes Valeurs Environnementales,” two labels that reward excellency in sustainable practices - only about 30 houses boast that label, which is just one step away from organic farming. As the amount of rain that the area gets would require constantly renewed applications of bouillie bordelaise, the high level of copper would become more detrimental to the soil than a small amount of chemical fungicides not allowed by organic viticulture. For that reason Bonnet chose not to be organic. The rows are partially covered with grass, and hazelnut and rose trees are planted amongst them. The “ Cadoles,” typical sheds made of rocks that were used for protection in case of bad weather, have been renovated. The yields are kept low. Close monitoring of the weather, prophylactic methods and constant attention paid to the vineyards resulted in a drastic reduction of treatments. No insecticide is used, and most of the vineyard is herbicide-free.
Click here: Alexandre Bonnet
Winemaker Alain Pailley, General Manager François Lange, Vineyard Manager Didier Melé