Champagne winegrowers use grape varieties as a point of difference

Thursday February 25 2021 by Vitisphere

 The Petit Meslier single varietal has a “novel and slightly salty taste” and a €79 consumer price tag. The Petit Meslier single varietal has a “novel and slightly salty taste” and a €79 consumer price tag. - Photo credit : DR

We are convinced that the future of small producers lies in their uniqueness and quality”, said Céline Larose, marketing and sales manager for Gratiot Delugny Champagnes which has 10 hectares of vines in Crouttes-sur-Marne. As a Champagne grower and producer, the property has a good range of unique varietals to choose from with its 0.3 ha of Petit Meslier (planted in 2008), 0.3 ha of Pinot gris (planted in 2016) and 0.3 ha of Pinot blanc (due to be planted in April 2021).

Domaine Gratiot Delugny is exploring an alternative varietal trio to Champagne’s ubiquitous holy trinity - 99.7% of vineyard acreage is clad with Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier. It intends to draw on owner David Gratiot’s early interest in novel grape varieties. At the tender age of 14, he is said to have started selecting and propagating Petit Meslier vines found on the property. The Pinot gris vineyard only produced its first quality crop in 2020, whereas the first Champagnes made from Petit Meslier vines have been released as ‘Bulles d'Avenir’ or ‘The Bubbly of the Future’. “We are very proud of this single varietal [Petit Meslier] which tastes completely different to other Champagnes”, said Larose, commenting on the acidity and minerality softened by barrel fermentation, one of David Gratiot’s signature techniques.

Arbane, the sixth and last grape variety permitted in the Champagne appellation, is not being considered by the estate. “In our opinion, the grapes are not very flavourful, but we are keeping an open mind for the future”, concluded Larose.

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