Grower Champagne Club – September 2021

Louis Nicaise, Premier Cru, Brut Réserve, $48
Louis Nicaise is based in the tiny village of Hautvillers, just north of Epernay in the Marne Valley. It was founded in 1928 by Lucien Nicaise, and renamed Champagne Louis Nicaise in 1949 when his son Louis, then 22, took over. In 2002, after getting a diploma in viticulture, Laure Nicaise settled back on her family’s estate at the age of 20 and began working alongside her father, honing her winemaking skills. Together they upgraded their facilities and she persuaded him to move towards more sustainable farming, for the sake of their vines as well as the soil of their vineyards, a mix of clay and limestone over chalk that gives their wines their unique profile. Along the way she met, and subsequently married, Clément Préaux, a talented, up-and-coming winemaker in his own right, who had previously apprenticed with the legendary Anselme Selosse, the Champagne trailblazer who, among other things, led the way in the promotion of Champagnes that were expressive of their individual terroirs. Today Laure and Clément represent the fourth generation to run the family estate and are taking Nicaise wines to the next level. They farm their nine hectares of Premier Cru vineyards sustainably and are guided by a philosophy of embracing progress, while valuing tradition. This lovely Champagne is 40% Chardonnay and 30% each Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, mostly from the 2009, 2010, and 2011 harvests, and aged about five years on the lees. With 6.5 grams dosage, it is very elegant, with a soft creaminess and a perfect balance of orchard and citrus fruits, and fresh acidity. A hint of nuttiness adds to the complexity. Perfect to enjoy on its own, or with food, especially shellfish dishes.