Champagne JL Vergnon
Visiting the Champagne region

Christoph Constant

The first visit of this trip was with Christophe Constant (pictured above), cellar master, who has worked here for 15 years. Vergnon as a winery date back to the 1950s, and have 5.5 hectares in the Côte des Blancs with 18 parcels in the Grand Crus (Cramant, Oger, Avize) and 2 plots in Premier Crus (Vertus and Villeneuve). For the last five years they've also been buying some grapes. They also buy in some red wine for the rosé.

lemesnil
Le Mesnil on a chilly late April day 

Most of their plots were planted around 15 years ago, and they work the soil. They aren't organic but they are close. 'If the weather is bad we might use systemic fungicide,' he says. 'I don't want to be organic because it is difficult in Champagne.' Christophe says that if you have lots of grass then you lose yield, which is why they work the soil.

He reckons Le Mesnil is a really good terroir and it's possible to reach good maturity there if the quantities aren't too high. 'You can do wine at 15 tons/ha here but I think it is better at 10,' he says.  

Vinification is in a mix of stainless steel (70%) and barrels (30%).

'We try to do wine before Champagne,' says Christophe. 'We are looking to make wine with more personality and more complexity. Before we made Champagne. Now we make wine with some bubbles.'

pruning

Production here is around 75 000 bottles annually, and half is exported. These are very stylish grower Champagnes and worth looking out for.

THE WINES

Champagne JL Vergnon Eloquence Extra Brut NV France
This is a Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. Lively and expressive with a fresh, lemony nose. Precise, tight, lemony palate is very pure and detailed with a subtle herbal edge. There's great purity and focus here with a subtle appley edge. Very tight with good acidity and some subtle waxy notes in the background. 92/100

Champagne JL Vergnon Rose Motion Extra Brut Grand Cru NV France
Base is 2012, with 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir (they buy the red wine in for this), and only tank fermentation of the base wine. Lively, bright and precise with an appley edge to the fruit. Very crisp with a distinct herbiness. Laser sharp lemony finish. 91/100

 

Champagne JL Vergnon Brut Nature Grand Cru O.G 2010 France
This is from Oger, but can't be labelled so because Christoph doesn't have a carnet de pressoir for it. In tank for 9 months, no malolactic. There's some Chardonnay musque in the parcel. Complex, taut, fruity lemon, apple and herb characters with some fine nut and wax notes. Quite powerful with real complexity, and a slightly savoury edge with good structure and focus. 93/100

Champagne JL Vergnon Resonance Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2008 France
This is from a 1 hectare plot, with alcoholic fermentation in tank and no malolactic. Disgorged December 2015 with 3 g/l dosage. There's a supple creamy edge to the appley nose. Very powerful and fresh with lovely lemony acidity and apple and herb notes. Taut and pristine with some salinity. 94/100

Champagne JL Vergnon Confidence Brut Nature 2009 France
From two parcels, all aged in barrel. Complex, appley and lemony on the nose with nuts and wax. The palate is savoury, intense and complex with good structure and high acidity. Powerful and complex with real intensity. Apples, lemons, nuts and spice here with good depth. Powerful and gastronomic. 94/100

 

See also:

Champagne Charles Heidsieck
Veuve Clicquot Cave Privee Champagnes

Wines tasted 04/16  
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wine-searcher.com

 

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