Grower Champagne Club – August 2014

J. Lassalle, Brut Préférence
It’s hard to forget the story of this house, based in the village of Chigny-Les-Roses in the Montaigne de Reims, whose philosophy is Un Esprit, un Style, une Femme, or “One spirit, one style, one woman.” Originally founded in 1942 by Jules Lassalle, there have now been three generations of women heading up the estate: first his wife Olga, followed by daughter Chantal Decelle-Lassalle, and now his grandaughter Angéline Templier-Lassalle. Angéline herself was in town this spring pouring her Champagnes and it was delightful to meet her and taste through her wines, some of which sadly won’t be in the market here anytime soon, but all of which show the gorgeous, dare we say, feminine house style, which is basically the style originated by Jules. They have 11.5 hectares of 1er cru vineyards in and around their village, planted to all three grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Their wines are rare in that they are all allowed to finish malolactic fermentation, which gives them their characteristic complexity and elegance. They are also aged at least four years in bottle before release (even longer for their vintage Champanges). Though the proportions vary from year to year, their Cuvée Préférence is roughly a blend of 60% Pinot Meunier and 20% each Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which, they say, embodies the spirit of their house style with its finesse, depth, and purity. Wonderfully balanced, and expressive, with layers of pretty, complex flavors, and richly textured bubbles, the Préférence is $55.