It's Club Edition time and we are humbled to be able to bring you two producers, that brilliantly illustrate this month's theme of cellar ageing - crown seal versus cork. Of the several ingredients that go into making champagne, from the raw material, the hand of the winemaker, the sunshine and time, oxygen is a key ingredient to complete the desired style.
These styles tend to fall into two categories, reductive and oxidative. The former is the exclusion of oxygen where possible (stainless steel vats and crown seals for ageing) and the latter invites oxygen (use of barrel, amphora and cork ageing).
Producer examples for reductive would be; Lanson, Pol Roger & Laurent Perrier and for oxidative are Bollinger, Alfred Gratien & Krug.
Suenen Champagne is run by 5th generation grower Aurelien Suenen, who is a huge talent based in Cramant. His focus is on the soils and getting the most out of his single vineyard examples. For this month we will look at one of his non-vintage cuvèe's, 'C+C' which is a combination of two grand cru chardonnay villages Chouilly and Cramant. This is aged under crown seal and the aim is to maintain the freshness and vitality of the acid profile.
Our oxidative producer using cork ageing is Alexandre Filaine, made by the artisanal grower Fabrice Gass. Fabrice works in the cellars at Bollinger and he prefers the use of pinot noir as the basis for his wines. He makes a tiny amount of just 4,000-5,000 bottles per year as this is his 'side-hustle' and he only has about 1 hectare! This is as close to Bollinger-esque in style but with grower finesse.
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