Grower Champagne Club – March 2013

Franck Pascal, Quintessence 2004
Franck Pascal initially trained as an industrial engineer and he worked for a time as an army scientist before he took over his tiny, four-hectare family estate in 1994. His early experience made him well aware of the harmful effect of chemicals and, from the beginning, he was fully committed to organic and biodynamic practices in all aspects of his winemaking. Pascal has been lauded as a rising star in Champagne but, being off the beaten track, with a tiny estate, and limited production, he has yet to gain the attention he richly deserves. He is located in Baslieux-sur-Châtillon, west of Epernay on the north bank of the Marne Valley where the soil is predominantly clay. Pascal has parcels in six nearby communes and the subtle variations in exposure and soil allows him to blend for utmost complexity and finesse. Because it does well in the clay soil and the frost-prone climate, Pinot Meunier is the predominant grape in this region. The blend for Pascal’s 2004 Quintessence is 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Chardonnay (“Plus lots of care…” Pascal notes). Always working as naturally as possible, Pascal uses only indigenous yeast, no fining or filtration, and very little oak. And what dosage he uses is organic cane sugar. He says, “The minerality of the wine comes straight from the terroir, it is its signature. All so-called ‘corrective’ treatment is banned from our winery.” This elegant Champagne has all the depth and complexity you’d expect from a vintage bottling (especially 2004). With it’s delicate, brioche aromas, creamy, satiny texture, and beguiling flavors, it was a no-brainer for the club. It is $70 and is drinking beautifully now.