The house dates back to 1872 when Lucien Leclerc opened the doors and produced his first Champagnes. His descendant Bertrand Leclerc was one of the first producers to begin experimenting with biodynamic production in the 1970s. The 5th generation, Pascal Leclerc (Bertrand’s son), took over in 1978 and worked to build the business and continue the expansion of the brand and it’s healthy 30 hectare estate. He focused on the work that his father had started by continuing to move away from the use of Chemicals and pesticides. In 2000 he chose to convert all of his vineyards to biodynamic production. He gained full Demeter status in 2002. At the time it was the single biggest Champagne estate using biodynamic processes. It was a great shock to all in the world of Champagne when he died unexpectingly in 2010 at the age of 60. He was survived by his four daughters the eldest of which, Segolene, looked to take over. Then in January 2011 she was forced to sell over half the estate. And that looked like it was that…
But in 2012, out of the ashes has risen a Phoenix in the shape of Frederic Zeimett (Operations Manager with a history in Champagne, working for Moet, Chapoutier and Vranken), the ever present Herve Jestin (Oenologist and general biodynamic guru) and two American investors. A massive investment has been made to completely modernise the premises, done beautifully, with a nod to the past. Both Zeimett and Jestin have focused on their extensive relationships within the biodynamic world and have formed partnerships with the likes of Thomas Perseval in Chamery, Olivier Horiot in Les Riceys and Philippe Lancelot in Cramant.
As of 2015 the first ‘new’ cuvees came onto the market. I will for the purpose of this refrain from commenting on historical wines (although I must confess I haven’t tasted many).
Brut Reserve, 2012, shows an extremely exciting palate and a playful vanilla note. Pure, expansive and with great energy and a deliciously juicy palate. A Meunier heavy blend (65%) of Cumieres, Verneuil, Sermiers, Epernay and Cramant with a tiny 2 g/ltr of biodynamic cane sugar and their own wines from Cramant specially selected by Herve. It was produced in 100% oak.
The 2013, tasted with no added sugar, showed a surprisingly Chardonnay weighted palate given it was the same blend. I am told the great Philippe Jamesse was similarly caught out by this. Unlike the 2012, this blend is only 30% oak and shows an amazing precision to it.
La Croisette, a tiny 0.6 hectare parcel in Epernay planted in Chardonnay, is a pure 2012 with 0 g/ltr. The nose is a fascinating blend of Puligny Montrachet and the finest juicy red fruit notes. It has a fine salinity and a lovely plump palate.
The Rose Brut is a deliciously delicate blend of Chardonnay from Didier Doye in Montgeux and a touch from Cumieres, and a dollop (5%) of Pinot Noir from Olivier Horiot in Les Riceys. It has a warm strawberry nose and a delightfully delicate and balanced palate. So beautiful and feminine.
There are a number of other cuvees including; Millesime (their standard vintage wine), Rubis de Noirs (a heavy pinot noir based Rose), Divine (a solera) and Chevres Pierreuses (another single vineyard wine) but these continue to run off the old stock and are not from 2012 or younger.
There are a number of exciting new single cru wines coming including a pure Chardonnay from Cramant (from the estate of Philippe Lancelot) and the beautiful Clos de Trois Clochers in Villers-Allerand. Things are looking exciting and I can’t wait to see what they can do!
Region: La Vallee De La Marne
Contact: Frederic Zeimett
Cuvée De Prestige: La Croisette
Year Founded: 1872
Bottles produced: 150000
Style: Energetic, pure, intense, saline, juicy
Terroir: Cumieres, Verneuil, Sermiers, Epernay,
Vinification: Use of egg (horizontal), oak and steel.
Viticulture: Organic since 2004 and biodynamic since 2008. New production from 2012 remains biodynamic
Recent Tasting Notes from Leclerc Briant