Grower Champagne Club – May 2013

Saint-Chamant, Brut Blanc de Blancs
Saint-Chamant is a small Champagne house located in Epernay. It was established in 1930 by Pierre and Hélène Coquillete, who passed it down to their son, Christian, in 1950. Now 84, Christian is assisted by his son, Stéphane, who produces Champagne under his own label as well, so it remains very much a family affair. And the charming and spry Christian can still be found zipping back and forth in his old truck between his winery and his vineyards, which lie in the grand cru village of Chouilly, in the northern end of the Côte des Blancs. (While most wineries located in the larger towns, such as Epernay, tend to be negotiants, Saint-Chamant owns all of its vineyards and is a true grower.) The winery, though unassuming from the outside, sits atop a huge, labyrinthine wine cellar dating back to the 16th century where the family, firm believers in aging Champagne, keep thousands of bottles of older Champagnes. This one, though not labeled as such, is all from the exceptional 2004 vintage, we were told by the importer. And it is 100% Chardonnay, grown on the chalky limestone soil, which gives the wine its characteristic mineral expression. It is rich and refined, with a warm, brioche-y nose and nutty, toasty flavors that linger on the finish. All underscored by the classic freshness of Chardonnay. This wine is $60 and is delicious now, although you could, like Christian, age it if you desired, even if you don’t have a mile-long cellar carved in the limestone underneath your house.