Les Vignes de la Vallee, Brut
Champagne Dehours et Fils

Les Vignes de la Vallee, Brut




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Champagne Dehours et Fils, Les Vignes de la Vallee, Brut, NV


Justerini & Brooks Tasting note

Champagne Dehours et Fils, Les Vignes de la Vallee, Brut, NV






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Champagne Dehours et Fils

Champagne Dehours et Fils

Jérôme Dehours is a third-generation winemaker making deliciously rich and charismatic Champagne from the cool Flagot valley, a side valley on the north-facing left bank of La Vallee de la Marne. His 16 hectares of vineyards cover over 40 different plots across the villages of Mareuil le Port, Cerseuil, Oeuilly and Troissy, all within 3km of his winery, on a variety of expositions and soil types – from clay and sand to limestone, often changing within a single plot.

In the vineyards chemical herbicides are never used and the estate is certified HVE3 and VDC. The approach is very much about keeping his old vines healthy and growing for site expression. While around 70% of his holdings are Meunier, Jérôme considers himself more a Marne Valley domaine than anything else – a man dedicated to showing off the numerous terroirs that he farms. As such, he produces as many as 14 cuvees in total – most of his gorgeous single vineyards amounting to no more than 1500 bottles per year.

The majority of his production however, is composed of the Grande Reserve and Terre de Meunier cuvees, the former around 65% Meunier, the latter a pure Meunier cuvee from two plots on the same hill, one facing north, the other south. While the single vineyards offer remarkably singular expressions, we have been hugely taken with the wines at the NV end of the range, finding them to be great examples of Champagnes that show off the natural depth and fruitiness of Meunier while retaining excellent tension and complexity.

This being a cool sector, harvest is often a week later than elsewhere in Champagne, and indeed Jérôme, always attentive in the vineyards, is invariably happy to wait to achieve true ripeness. “We like our winemaking to be as non-interventionalist as possible” Jérôme told us, “which means all the hard work comes in the vineyards. When the harvest is done, 85% of the work is done. If we want to be faithful to a vintage, this is the way for us. We never chaptalise, we clarify the wines naturally, avoid filtration and use low levels of sulphur”.

Winemaking begins in three old coquard presses, fermentation is spontaneous and done in a mixture of steel and oak, and elevage involves a varying proportion of wood, depending on the cuvee – from huge fuders to smaller barrels, some dating back to 1999. In general, long lees ageing is the norm. A solera system is employed for reserve wines, with a large percentage informing each of the Non-Vintage cuvees – 30-50% for the Grande Reserve - adding a sense of depth and character that is remarkable for wines at this level.

The resulting Champagnes are characterful, rich, layered and complex – wines to enjoy slowly, from a large glass, that will develop over the course of a bottle, quite possibly offering you most pleasure with the final drop.

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