To Add or Not to Add Sugar? - That is the question this month.
Let's first touch on what dosage is as it's good to go over some of the basics, especially one that can alter the result significantly.
Dosage - is to add a mixture of wine with sugar or a liqueur that moves the level of sweetness from Zero to Extra Brut, Brut, Sec, Demi-sec and right up to 50 grams per litre for the 'Doux' category. We are looking at the 'Brut Nature' category which can also be considered as Zero Dosage as no dosage is added.
This month we look at two excellent producers who are not into dosing their champagne.
Our first zero dosage specialist is Drappier based in the village of Urville. Drappier is by far one of the most recognised and established houses in Champagne going back to 1808 and being renowned for low dosage and low sulphur champagne.
Michel Drappier (pictured below on the left) isn't much of a fan of sugar. In Champagne, they produce a lot of sugar beet, as it is a widely available agricultural resource. When we met with Michel in 2019 he explained "I don't like the taste that sugar beet gives to the champagne, so I don't use it". In fact, Michel makes his own liqueur with some of the world's most expensive sugar from Martinique and aged in 2500 litre Limousin Oak barrels (pictured). He says, "I only need a drop of this to my champagne if I am adding dosage, which adds a touch of character."
Drappier are based on limestone soils with high natural acidity and the warmth of the southern sun to slowly ripen the grapes. The result is a flawless Blanc de noirs called Brut Nature 'Sans Souffre'.
Tarlant has always been at the forefront of new wave winemaking yet keeping with tradition. Twelfth generation Benoît and Melanie aim to extract the best from their fruit through a combination of natural, biodynamic and herbal approaches to viticulture.
They extend this to their winemaking and have been hugely influenced by Georgian wines where they have experimented with Kveri - a cylindrical-shaped clay vessel, to ferment their wines. The Tarlant style emphasizes ripeness and longer ageing which sidesteps the need for sugar addition.
We hope you are keeping safe, look after yourselves and each other.
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