Grower Champagne Club – May 2015

Jean Milan, Brut Spéciale Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs
Oger is located in the Côte des Blancs between Avize to the north (think Le Brun Servenay and Agrapart) and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger to the south (think Pierre Peters). It is a 100% Grand Cru village and it is here that we find the house of Jean Milan. We’ve been wanting to try their Champagne for a long time, but it has always been pretty limited and hard to come by. So we were excited to learn that there was a small amount available, and when we tasted a sample last week there was no question that it was going in the club. According to importer Terry Theise, “Milan is the best grower in Oger, and the wines thread the needle between minerality and fruits and smokiness, which is Oger at its most vivid and expressive.” The village is a bit of an anomoly in the region as the vineyards are situated on steeper hillsides, much of them facing south, and the added warmth and sunshine imparts more body and depth to the wines. In contrast to the focussed minerality of other Champagnes from the region, this one is striking in its rich, almost meaty nose, with hints of brioche and toast, yet with all the clean, pure elegance you’d expect from a Côte des Blancs. It went through malolactic fermentation and spent 36 months in bottle. Champagne Jean Milan is now overseen by Caroline Milan, who has taken over much of the cellar work from her father and represents the fourth generation of the family to direct the estate, while her brother tends to the vineyards. You may notice that this wine is labeled NM (“négociant”) rather than an RM (“grower”). This is necessary when a grower includes more than 5% purchased fruit in their wines. In Milan’s case, as it always is when we include such wines, they purchase a small amount of fruit from trusted friends and relatives, all in Oger. Still very much a small grower-producer. And we’re very excited to finally put a Milan Champagne in the club! It is $63.