Our tiny allocation of Champagne Alexandre Le Brun has just arrived in the stores. He is the smallest producer that we import, or even carry from Champagne at just 7.5 acres. He only makes wine from half of the grapes he brings in, selling the rest off to negociants- his production is just one thousand cases a year total. This tiny scale allows Alex to do nearly everything himself and this hands on approach shows through in the finished product. He only uses his own estate fruit for his Champagne, and although small, it is diverse. He farms 22 plots in eight different villages. Among these are the oldest vines that I have ever seen in Champagne, the Meunier of vignes l’etoges in Monthelon were planted in 1902, making them now 113 years old.
About half of the production is vinified in stainless steel in the upper part of his small winery. The other half is vinified in 300 liter wood barrels from the Tonneliere Artisinal in Reims. He lets each lot decide for itself whether or not it wants to go through malolactic and never filters. He fines the wine only when necessary.
He bottles late, so when I visited him this July, we were still able to taste the 2013 vin clair, which was very impressive. A barrel of his Chouilly grand cru Chardonnay from the Monts Aigu parcel was particularly impressive. This plot, pictured above, is right next to Cramant- in fact the vines behind Alexandre and across the path are Cramant Grand Cru, and the Chateau Saran is visible up the hill behind him. He has two long rows here, and uses them to load his press once for his excellent cuvee “Fascination”. Perhaps in another seven years we will be offering this 13 for sale- we have the 2007 now.
Here is what we have:
Alexandre Le Brun "Tradition" Brut Champagne $39.99: This is composed of a third each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier from Mr. Le Brun’s estate, and nearly every wine in this blend has gone through malolactic. This Champagne has a rich bready nose from the over 20 months it has aged on the lees and some very nice savory qualities as well. In the mouth the high quality Meunier gives this wine great roundness as well as some tasty baked apple flavors. The cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir show their stuff on the dry, long finish. It is dosed at 6g/l.
Alexandre Le Brun "Passion" Brut Champagne $49.99: Although labeled as non-vintage, this is in fact all 2005, and has been given eight years of ageing time o the lees. This Champagne is composed of half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and tastes much more expensive that it is. If you like creamy, toasty Champagne with depth and richness, this is one of the best that we carry.
2007 Alexandre Le Brun 'Cuvee Fascination' Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne $69.99: (36 bottles available) This was one of my top Champagne experiences for 2014- out of a plastic cup at an airport hotel! I drank it again (in the picture above) for New Years Eve with take-out sushi, this time with better glassware, and was blown away again. The biggest problem with it is production- it is only one press load and we don’t get very much! This Champagne is all Chardonnay from two long rows in the Monts Aigu parcel of the Grand Cru of Chouilly- right across a small path from Cramant. If you love the high class toast of Taittinger’s Comte de Champagne, this is a bottling that you don’t want to miss. The Chardonnay in this bottle has top notch concentration and texture as well as a complex array of flavors; baguette, succulent nectarine and bright chalk. This wine is labeled as Extra Brut since the dosage is very low, but while it is quite dry, it is not overly austere. It has one of the longest finishes of any type of wine that we carry- truly top notch!
2009 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvée Revelation" Brut Champagne $79.99: (36 bottles available) If you are a fan of Meunier based Champagne, trying this is a must. The Revelation is composed entirely of Meunier from vineyards of fifty years or older, only 1200 bottles of this incredible wine were made. The vines for this Champagne are in the very cool micro-climate of Monthelon, just south of Epernay, and thus have a far racier character than any of our other Meunier’s that come from the Western Valley of the Marne. With quince like fruit, subtle brioche and ample mineral drive, this serious wine has a finish that lasts like a blanc de blancs. It is dry at only four grams per liter of dosage, but not austere. A classic!
2008 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvee Dilection" Brut Rose Champagne $99.99: (36 bottles available) If you love fine, subtle, elegant rose, the Dilection is not to be missed. The base wine is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from vines of 40 years or older. To give it the rose color, flavor and aroma Alexandre adds 15% red Meunier from the vignes d’etoges, a plot in Monthelon that was planted in 1902… Easily the oldest vines I have ever seen in Champagne. All of the vinification is done in wood. I found it to have incredibly pure, Burgundian cherry fruit and a seamless, medium to light body. This wine has so many layers that it will reward those who taste it quietly, but it is so delicious that one does not have to ponder it to enjoy it. The finish is, like all of the Le Brun wines, the best part- a true peacock’s tail!
A toast to you!