Grower Champagne Club – June 2015

NV Bérêche et Fils, Brut Réserve
The Champagne house of Bérêche dates back to 1847 when they began with a few hectares of vineyards in the Montagne de Reims. Over the years they expanded their holdings and today they have 9.5 hectares of vineyards in three areas of the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne, which they plant about equally to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. This is roughly the breakdown of fruit in their Brut Réserve, sourced from three distinct sites: the warm Marne, contributing body and richness; the chalky soil around Ludes, in the Montagne de Reims, which adds minerality to the wine; and Ormes, also the in Montagne de Reims, with sandy soils that add texture and aromatics. Interestingly, in a time when grower Champagnes are rapidly gaining in recognition and cachet, in 2013 Bérêche actually changed their status from RM (recoltant manipulant, or grower producer) to NM (négociant manipulant). This was so that they could increase their production of the Brut Réserve (by about 20%) which entailed buying a small amount of fruit from other trusted growers. But they remain one of the most conscientious and respected estates around. They have used no herbicides since 2004 and they are in the process of converting all of their vineyards to biodynamics. In the winery, they vinify all of their parcels separately for later blending and, for their upper cuvées (such as their Reflet d’Antan which we put in the club several years ago) they use the painstaking tirer à liege method, aging their wines under cork, rather than crown cap, to add complexity and depth. As with all Bérêche Champagnes, this one is vinified 20% in oak, with no malolactic fermentation and aged two years on lees. It is utterly charming and inviting, with soft aromas of toasty brioche. At $49.75 it’s a real value for such a richly-textured and nuanced Champagne. Perfect on its own, or paired with shellfish or salmon.