30 rue Maurice Cerveaux, BP 3
If you want to know why we think this is one of the best champagnes on the planet, then listen to the prophetic words of Alfred Gratien:
“I have always been of the opinion that champagne should be to wine what haute couture is to fashion.”
Although we are not much into fashion, we do appreciate passion, excellence and attention to designing and producing the best. To Monsieur Alfred Gratien, we tip our cap.
Brief visit notes.
* Producing champagne since 1864.
* The winemaker – Nicholas – gave us the tour. He is the Fourth generation of winemakers from his family at Alfred Gratien. Nicholas loves to make champagne. His style is big sweetness. First glass says “take a second”. Gourmandise, ie greediness.
* Now owned by Germans, Nicholas is allowed to maintain the same quality of his family tradition.
* No malolactic fermentation – Nicholas believes it ends acidity. He wants freshness.
* All metal tanks for blending.
* Grapes from certain producers are given special names for each barrel. They invite producers to taste the wine from his parcel.
* Six months in oak. Then he decants the wine and starts to make the first blend in March/April. May is the final blend.
* Minimum three years in the bottle.
* 250,000 bottles per year.
* Negociant – they buy all their grapes and pay others to press the grapes. Nicholas, quite strongly, points out “I am not a farmer”.
* System of barrel storage is called Sagarte, which allows flexibility to move the barrels in and out. Very cool! They only ove the barrels 11 times per year, which is easier than the old system.
* Barrels used from Chablis after 4 years.
* 2008 Alfred Gratien Brut Classic. Blended with 2007. 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meneur. Excellent!
* 2007 Alfred Gratien Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. 100% Chardonnay from 5 Grand Cru producers. Spectacular!!!