Champagne Bourgeois Diaz
Crouttes-sur-Marne is Champagne suburbia: slower, more domestic, with a placid temperament that’s very different to the grand champagne districts further down river. Many growers will sell on their grapes by bulk hectare to large négociants here. And at Bourgeois Diaz, this was also true. But in 2001, Jérôme, the 4th generation of this family of vinyerons, returned home after a prodigal stint in industrial sales – seeking re-enchantment. He started making his own champagne on the estate. In 2002, inspired by his mentor Pierre Masson, he converted it to biodynamics. It was formally certified in 2015 and is today making some of the most startling grower champagnes we have tasted.
Jérôme’s vines stand out. 6.5 hectares of largely Pinot Meunier, some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay seamed by chickweed, comfrey, dandelion, ribwort plantain and burnet. As such, his biodiverse plots are largely a curiosity in the area, and their proximity to conventionally farmed vines means that Jérôme prefers to send his borderline grapes to the co-operative – rather than risk a grape touched by residual spray.
All vineyard work is by hand and, in the press room, Jerome uses a traditional wooden Coquard – characterised by its particular gentleness on the grapes and particular demands on the press workers, who must perform the ‘retrousse’ (the manual turn of the grapes) by hand after each press. Fermentation is spontaneous, with native yeasts in a combination of stainless steel and neutral oak, and dosage is minimal: between 0 and 3g/L