I think I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again. The thing I find most rewarding and enjoyable about what I do is not drinking grower champagnes, pleasant though that can be. Rather it’s getting to meet the people who produce grower champagnes. There are some real characters and there’s is always something new to learn.
I had a meeting yesterday with Vincent Laval of champagne Georges Laval – a fascinating man who is the president of the biological champagne makers association. There is an acronym for the association but I won’t bother you with that for now (it wouldn’t be France without one; they do love their acronyms)
Vincent cultivates a very small estate of just 2.5 hectares of vines to make his champagnes, but contrary to what you might think he is quite satisfied with that. His philosophy is that small is usually better, and that approach is clearly illustrated in what he thinks about last year’s harvest.
Most people you talk to say that it was a superb vintage despite it being a small harvest. Vincent would turn that around to say that it was great quality because it was a small harvest.
There’ll be more on Vincent, on bio champagne and on bio-dynamic champagne (Yes there is a difference) in a new video coming soon and I’m really looking forward to filming it.
Biological (organic) cultivation started in Champagne back in the 1970s. I imagine you should say re-started because an hundred years ago I suppose that everything was biological. Anyway in the 1970s there were just 7 champagne houses who used biological methods and of those only 5 are still in operation:
Georges Laval at Cumières
Serge Faust at Vandières (these days the company is called Ardinat Faust)
Jean Bliard at Hautvillers
Yves Ruffin at Avenay Val d’Or
Jacques Beaufort in Ambonnay
More have started more recently but there are still only 30 or so members of biological growers association in Champagne.
Anyway there will be lots more in the forthcoming video when I plan to interview several of these very passionate grower champagne makers and let them tell you all about what they do and why.