A Champagne Revolution: Changing the Game with Cédric Bouchard

 

Over the years, the international wine scene has witnessed the public’s growing interest in “Grower Champagnes.” Experts attribute this subtle shift in wine lifestyle to the developing sophistication of the regular wine drinker’s palate. Enthusiasts are welcoming the influx of adventurous, up-and-coming organic and biodynamic grower-producers. And right at the center of this movement is the Champagne world’s darling, Cédric Bouchard.


Like most modern vintners, Bouchard is the product of traditional training and visionary thinking. The French winemaker hails from a Champagne family. When he was 14, his traditionalist father sent him to winemaking school. Having experienced disillusionment over the rigidity of old Champagne-making practices, he opted to work as a caviste in Paris instead of rushing headlong into wine production. During his stint as a caviste, he met a number of wine producers, which influenced him to find new ways to make quality Champagne. In 2000, he returned to Aube and began working in Val Vilaine, his family’s 4-acre vineyard in the Côte de Bar region of Champagne, France. He established his own winery, called Roses de Jeanne, and began producing some of the most interesting and sought-after Champagnes today.

In the last 15 years, Bouchard has made his name as one of the best Champagne producers in the world. His distinctive approach to winemaking—opting to create single-variety and single vintage wines from single parcels—has led to his meteoric rise in the international wine industry. He joins the ranks of the very few vintners with RM stamped on their bottles. RM stands for Recoltant Manipulant, which means that the wine is both grown and vinified by the farmer. In 2008, Bouchard received an award from Gault Millau for being Champagne’s finest winemaker.

 
Bouchard’s unique take on Champagne growing and winemaking


Above all else, Cédric Bouchard is a purist. He makes varietal Champagnes from grapes grown in single parcels of land. Save for an experiment in oak aging where he created just 146 bottles of magnum red and white wines (Coteaux Champenois), he conducts all fermentation in enamel and stainless steel. His main goal is to create wine that’s presented in the clearest manner possible. There’s no
chaptalization, no filtering, no fining, and no cold-stabilization in Rose de Jeanne wines. And apart from his earliest bottles, Bouchard adheres to a no-dosage principle. He also bottles his Champagnes at far less pressure than his contemporaries. The result is extremely fine bubbles on Champagnes that are big on flavor but equally great in finesse and clarity.

Aside from employing precise winemaking and wine storage practices, Bouchard also grows his grapes organically. During harvest, the grapes are hand-picked and crushed by foot, with only the best-quality juices retained for wine production. Due to the flavorful qualities and lack of fizz in his Champagnes, Bouchard’s wines are remarkably easy to pair with a myriad of dishes. In fact, Bouchard, who is not a fan of bubbles, recommends decanting his wines for about an hour before enjoying the tipple with your favorite meal.

To help you navigate the complex but utterly delightful world of Roses de Jeanne wines, Singapore Wine Vault gives you this comprehensive guide on Bouchard’s top Champagnes.

 
Le Creux d’Enfer Rosé

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Production: 500 bts

Roses de Jeanne’s Le Creux d’Enfer Rosé is one of the most popular Champagnes from Cédric Bouchard. This Rosé Champagne varies in flavor profiles depending on the wine’s vintage. Case in point, the 2002 Le Creux d’Enfer offers more subtlety and sweetness than its 2007 version. While the 2002 Rosé Champagne offers generous notes of Mirabelle plums, passion fruit, hard candy, and white flowers, its 2007 counterpart ranks high in piquancy, with an almost Campari-like flavor. Pick the 2004 vintage and you’ll find a palate-friendly medium, with strong hints of pomegranate, licorice, red berries, crushed flowers, and sweet tobacco.

Despite its nuances in the flavor department, critics agree that Bouchard’s Le Creux d’Enfer Rosé offers a welcome departure from the standard sweet Champagne Rosés you’ll find in the local wine store. It’s also one of the rare wines that have a short drinking window. Keeping this tipple in your wine cellar will lead to dryness, as its fruit flavors dissipate over time.  Best to consume this wine as soon as you get your hands on it.

 
Blanc de Noirs Les Ursules

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Production: 250-300 cases annually

Cédric Bouchard first wowed the wine world when he released the NV 2000 Blanc de Noirs Le Ursules. With its tremendous focus, impeccable structure, intense flavors, purity, and stunning elegance, this wine was an awe-inspiring first effort from the young French vintner. The 2001 vintage was an even brighter and fresher Champagne than its predecessor. It had layers of finely tuned flavors and aromas, featuring generous hints of hazelnuts, almonds, and freshly cut white flowers. The 2008 vintage also became an easy favorite for red wine enthusiasts, with its strong Pinot Noir undertones taking center stage in this wine’s flavor spectrum.

The 2004 vintage, on the other hand, is probably the least approachable young wine in this collection. Compared to its predecessors, this tipple has constricted fruit flavors. Experts recommend a touch of cellaring—perhaps a couple of years—just enough to let the flavors develop beautifully. Unlike the Le Creux d’Enfer Rosé, the Blanc de Noirs Les Ursules has a longer drinking window. You can keep this tipple bottled for another five years.

 
Blanc de Blancs La Haute-Lemblée

Variety: 100% Chardonnay

Production: approximately 1,200 bts

The Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Blancs La Haute-Lemblée is a favorite for many Champagne drinkers—and it’s easy to see why. Regardless of vintage, this wine offers exquisite layers of citrus and white flower flavors and aromas. The subtle hints of minerality and chalkiness add to the clarity and finesse of this well-balanced tipple. A bit of aging helps develop its aromas to include mouthwatering elements of roasted nuts, bread, and butter.

If this is your first foray into the world of high-quality Champagne, the La Haute-Lemblée is guaranteed to give you a thrillingly visceral experience.

 
Blanc de Blancs La Bolorée

Variety: 100% very rare and old Pinot Blanc

Production: extremely limited

The Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Blancs La Bolorée is another critically acclaimed wine from Cédric Bouchard. Aggregating a total score of 94 across its vintages, this wine offers a wonderful balance of immense acidity, honeyed sweetness, wet stone minerality, and salinity. On your first sip, you can already discern the hints of pencil shavings, anise, white stone fruits, and graphite that compose the staggering flavor of this Champagne. Its delicate mousse dissolves upon hitting the tongue, leaving you with an unadulterated explosion of flavors that stays in the mouth long after the first sip.

Because of the wine’s intensity, this is a tipple that can stand being decanted for an hour or so. The La Bolorée also has excellent cellaring potential, as its flavors will continue to develop for years.

 
Brut Blanc de Noirs La Parcelle

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Production: 150 cases annually/2,000 bts

When Bouchard released his first La Parcelle in 2004, the fruit flavors of the wine were tightly coiled. Its taste affirmed the three years it spent in the lees. Though the wine opened up gorgeously after spending some time in the glass, this sumptuous vintage needed a touch of cellaring for its citrus and floral notes to ripen. The 2008 and 2009 vintages present a contrast to their predecessor. These vintages offer rich and lasting fruit flavors complemented by the hint of wet stone and chalkboard minerality.

The 2010 vintage also has a stronger perfume of white flowers that splendidly balances its bright pear and apple flavors. Notes of lemon pith and sesame bring an interesting element to the aroma of this vintage cuvee. While its palate-cleansing properties make this tipple an excellent choice for a plethora of cuisines.

Out of these vintages, we’d say the 2008 La Parcelle is the one that has tremendous cellaring potential.

 
Blanc de Noirs Val Vilaine

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Production: 300-500 cases annually/ approximately 8,900 bts

The Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Noirs Val Vilaine is a Champagne that offers phenomenal depth, both in terms of its wet stone minerality and its fantastic acidity. Strong notes of white flowers and lemon pith cut through the downy mousse, leaving your taste buds tingling with the wine’s powerful flavors. A trace of salinity enriches the lip-smacking qualities of this stunning Champagne. Like the rest of Cédric Bouchard’s offerings, the Val Vilaine spends around 28 months fermenting in stainless steel, and is bottled with zero dosage.

Because Rose de Jeanne wines are extremely hard to find, if you chance upon a bottle from Bouchard, we recommend grabbing it with both hands and making a beeline for your wine vault. We guarantee that this is one tasting opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss.