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Champagne Drappier - Innovation through generations

Updated: May 31, 2023

This afternoon I had the pleasure of joining Michel and Hugo of the Drappier Family for a very special wine workshop in the beautiful surroundings of the Barbican, London. I cannot begin to list the highlights…Arbanne Vin Clair? Quattuor Blanc de Quatre Blancs? Brut Nature Immersion? Grande Sendrée? There were so many but let me give you a brief overview of the day.

Champagne Drappier

Champagne Drappier - Innovation through generations

Workshop 1 - Old varietals, vin clairs vs finished blends with Hugo Drappier

Within this workshop we explored the grapes "less trodden" and vins clairs of the rarest varieties, such as Petit Meslier and Arbane, alongside finished Champagnes and table wines that incorporate the lesser-used varieties of Pinot Blanc and Fromenteau (Pinot Gris).

Wine list:

  1. Arbanne Vin clair 2022

  2. Petit Meslier Vin clair 2022

  3. Quattuor Blend Vin clair 2022 (25% Arbanne, 25% Petit Meslier, 25% Blanc Vrai, 25% Chardonnay)

  4. Champagne Quattuor Blanc de Quattuor Blancs NV

  5. Champagne Clarevallis (70% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Blanc Vrai)

  6. Champagne Trop m’en Faut (100% Fromenteau)

This was a truly special tasting and the three vin clairs had only been taken from their tanks a couple of weeks before the tasting. Arbanne in particular is incredibly rare and Champagne is the only place in the world it is grown. According to Hugo, this is one of "the worst" grapes to grow, low yields, late ripening and harvest doesn't typically begin until November.

I found the Champagne Quattuor Blanc de Quattuor Blancs particularly interesting. This is a complex white blend with each variety contributing unique characters to the wine. Arbanne retains the freshness and yellow fruit, Meslier offers a floral element, Blanc Vrai adds the dryness and the Chardonnay introduces a roundness to the blend.

Workshop 2 - Methods of post-production ageing. The many facets of élevage and its impact on ageing with Michel Drappier.

Within this workshop, we explored wines with extended lees contact and wines that are sugar and sulphur-free, along with wines that have been either aged at the bottom of the sea or stored in the tranquil conditions of the Hoke Cellars In Urville.

Wine list:

  1. NV Coteaux Champenois Perpétuité

  2. NV Brut Nature Cellar Aged

  3. NV Brut Nature Immersion (Aged 2 years 35-40metres under the sea).

  4. 2006 Grande Sendrée disgorged in 2023

  5. 2006 Grande Sendrée disgorged in 2016

  6. 1991 Réserve de l’Oenothèque aged under cork.

A personal highlight from this workshop was the Coteaux Champenois Perpétuité NV.

This multi-vintage wine is an incredible blended representation of Champagne Drappier's recent history and has been produced from vintages between 2002 and 2019. Produced from 100% Pinot Noir, there are only 25 litres (5x5000 litres barrels) of this wine. There are three vintages not included in this wine due to quality and they are 2003, 2011 and 2017 (17 being a bad year for Pinot in the South of Champagne). Subtle new oak. Low ph, high acidity. Fantastic aromas and palette.

It was amazing to explore the differences between cellar-aged and immersion-aged Brut Natures.

NV Brut Nature, 100% Pinot Noir, Cellar Aged.

NV Brut Nature Immersion, 100% Pinot Noir, aged for 2 years, 35-40 metres under the ocean.

You will likely have seen various immersion wine projects and Champagne Drappier have their own. They currently lease a piece of land underneath the Ocean (35-40 meters down), and are experimenting with pressurised wine ageing.

The temperature under the ocean is similar to that in the Drappier cellars (11-13 degrees variable throughout the season), however, there is increased pressure under the ocean and also increased movement. The project is currently only in its 2nd of 12 minimum years however there are already noticeable differences in taste and mouthfeel between the two ageing methods,

2006 Grande Sendrée (disgorged in 2023), 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay.

2006 Grande Sendrée (disgorged in 2016), 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay

The Grande Sendrée Cuvée takes its name from a parcel of land covered by cinders after the fire which ravaged Urville in 1836. A spelling error having slipped through in a new version of the land register, it is with an “s” that this cuvée is designated today. A reproduction of an 18th century bottle found in the Urville cellars is used and the Grande Sendrée undergoes remuage entirely by hand. Since the 1999 vintage it is also available as a Magnum.

This was a fascinating tasting to really showcase and emphasise the difference and effects of the length of ageing before disgorgement.

1 Comment

May 31, 2023

Great article on Champagne Drappier Ian! Would love to try those underwater bottles!

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