While a lot of the publicity about Champagne is about the large well known houses, there are some wonderful small producers who have a lot to offer. The following are a selection of the hundreds of small producers in Champagne that I have visited and find particularly interesting.
Champagne Betrand Devavry
Since 1946, the Devavry Family has been making their own champagne in Champillon, near Epernay, with vineyards strategically located in Haut Villers (village of Dom Perignon), Romery, Champillon, Aÿ, Sermiers near Reims and around Sezanne.
The consistency and quality of this small producer is the result of the hard work of husband, wife and children.
Dominated by Grand cru and Premier Cru grapes, their champagnes always show a rich yellow fruit bouquet and freshness with growing complexity in their vintage and their exceptional oak fermented cuvee.http://www.champagne-devavry.com
Champagne Paul Dethune
Grand cru from Ambonnay Champagne Paul Dethune’s grapes come solely from 7 ha of their own vineyards around Ambonnay, one of the only 17 Grand Cru villages of Champagne.
Champagne producers and bottlers since 1890, the estate is now managed by Pierre and Sophie Dethune who dedicate their family know-how and their respect of traditions to producing exceptional champagnes.
After careful grape selection and manual harvest, the wines are matured in 205-liter oak barrels for 2 to 6 years in their 17th century cellars cut deep into the chalk.
“Passion, Tradition, Quality, respect of Nature” are their deepest values.http://www.champagne-dethune.com/home_uk
Vilmart is now recognized worldwide as the rising star amongst small champagne houses. Founded in 1890, nestled in the heart of the Grande Montagne de Reims, today the family owns 11 hectares of prime Premier Cru vineyards in around the picturesques village of Rilly. The vineyards are planted with 60% Cardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir, and 3% Pinot Meunier, and are all organically worked.
This family-owned estate remains faithful to tradition and nature and guarantees the finest quality by following three principles:
- Grapes come exclusively from their own 1st Cru vineyards.
- The Ampelos certification only obtained by a few producers: Strong respect of “terroir” with traditional soil management and no chemical fertilizer.
- Fermentation and ageing of the wines in oak casks prior to “assemblage”
Champagne Jacques Selosse
Founded by Jacques Selosse in the village of Avize in 1949, the domaine was taken over by his son Anselme, in 1974.
Every year, the domaine produces 57 000 bottles of champagne, from 7.5 hectares of chardonnay vines dotted through the Côte des Blancs – Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. There are also some vines dedicated to the production of Pinot Noir, in Aÿ, Ambonnay et Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, all in the Montagne de Reims.
Anselme is considered a visionary by some, and his entire production is grown according to biodynamic principles. He is seen as the pioneer of biodynamics in Champagne. Selosse wines are fermented using oak barrels, in contrast to the majority of Champagne producers who use stainless steel tanks.
Two of the wines in Selosse’s range, the Substance and the Contraste, are produced using a solera system, the same process used in Sherry production.
Anselme and his wife Corinne have recently opened a Hotel-Restaurant in Avize, Hôtel Restaurant Les Avisés.http://www.selosse-lesavises.com/