Grower Champagne Club – May 2018

Francis Boulard et Fille, Brut Nature, Blanc des Blancs, $68
Francis Boulard worked for several decades with his brother and sister at their family estate, Raymond Boulard, in the Montagne de Reims. For much of that time he farmed conventionally, using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, as was the norm. But along the way he began to realize that this was not good for the land, the wines, or the health of the people, and he decided to introduce organic and biodynamic practices in his family vineyards. He started on a small scale, but the results soon convinced him that, while more labor intensive, biodynamics produced more expressive and complex wines as well as being a more responsible way to farm. But he could not persuade his siblings to go along with this, so in 2010 he took his share of the vineyards, founded his own estate, and was soon joined by his daughter, Delphine. Today they have 2.75 hectares of vines, mostly around Cormicy, the most northerly village in the Montagne de Reims (and hence, in Champagne), plus a small amount of vineyard holdings in the Marne Valley. They also source fruit from their family’s vineyards, although Francis does all the vineyard work on these himself. They ferment their Champagnes using indigenous yeasts in various-sized oak barrels averaging 12 years in age. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation and remain on their fine lees, with regular stirring, which adds richness and complexity. This 100% Chardonnay, while non-vintage labeled, is from 2010, a year which tended to produce precise, focused wines. It is sourced entirely from one of their Cormicy vineyards. Its steely minerality is beautifully balanced by the supple texture and depth of the fruit. As a brut nature, it gets no dosage, which allows the wine to express the inherant terroir and mineraility of its origin, and also makes it a wonderful Champagne for food. Perfect for grilled or pan-fried fish, shellfish, especially scallops or oysters, or white meats.