There are hosts, and then there are HOSTS. Philippe Brun is definitely the latter. A giant of a man in every sense of the word but none more so than his hospitality. My first encounter was a rather hastily booked visit through a friend. Embarrassingly I was running rather late and had a visit the other side of it so couldn’t stay long. Philippe was uncompromisingly generous with his time and his wines. We tried no fewer than 10 including a fascinating 2001 that had been produced in a year with one of the lowest potential alcohols ever. The wines showed a fascinating step by step guide through his production and I was fortunate enough to try some wines produced by his father which showed an interesting shift in style. Needless to say I was not left wanting however Philippe felt otherwise and promptly invited me and one other to lunch the next day so that I could enjoy a vertical of his single vineyard prestige wine, La Pelle.
Philippe owns and looks after 6.9 hectares in Ay and the surrounding villages of Mareuil sur Ay, Mutigny, Hautvillers and a number of other villages. Philippe creates a wine that is typical of the village and area; fruity, playful and with a lovely expansive mid palate.
As well as producing his own wine Philippe carries out a number of other processes for negociants such as pressing. He has a wonderful relaxed attitude to his wine and winemaking that is incredibly infectious. You feel both relaxed and incredibly informed after a few minutes.
He has a colourful range of wines that befit his character;
Grande Reserve is a blend 50/25/25, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier. It is all honeysuckle, sweet toast and apricot (a note that Philippe finds in a lot of his North facing Ay vineyards). A rather simple style which lacks midpalate bite but nonetheless fruity and fun.
Brut Reserve Grand Cru is a Pinot Noir dominated (85/15) blend from his vineyards in Ay. You note the vineyard selection from the flavour profile that you get. Blackcurrants from the East, Strawberries from the west and Apricot and apple from the North. It is a marked step up in precision on the palate.
Two roses are produced to show two completely different styles. Romance, a wine created by maceration over one night from vineyards in Ay, Mareuil sur Ay and Mutigny. The wine has a huge ripe palate with lovely strawberry and candied notes. 4 Nuits is another wine altogether. Left to macerate for four nights it is blood red with a brutal palate and huge extraction. It needs food!
Cuvee des Sires is a roughly 70/30 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from his finest vineyards in Ay. He uses old oak for one month before prevoking malolactic fermentation in steel tanks and then returning to barrels again for a further 3 months. The wines have a lovely toasty front end with butter and once again some apricot notes. With age they gain mushroom aromas and a lovely warmth.
Reserve Famalie is a wonderful blend of Ay, Mesnil and Avize. The Chardonnay is matured in oak after the alcoholic and molalactic fermentations. The wines hit you with a grassy minerality and much more texture and balance than the Sires and pick up wonderful nutty notes with age. I must admit to preferring this blend and production style. I am not sure whether this will be continued as it was his father’s production.
La Pelle is Philippe’s favourite vineyard in Ay, south facing and is produced using only the Cuvee. The wine is superbly balanced, textured and with fabulous weight. A perfect example of the house.
If there is one producer that typifies what it is that I love about Champagne it is Roger Brun. Miss out on a visit at your peril!
Region: La Vallee De La Marne
Contact: Philippe Brun
Cuvée De Prestige: La Pelle
Bottles produced: 50000
Style: Fruity, simple, playful, fresh
Terroir: Ay, Mareuil sur Ay, Dizy, Avenay Val d'Or, Avize, Mesnil, Grauves, Mancy, Mardeuil, Monthelon, Champillon, Dizy.
Vinification: Some use of oak.
Recent Tasting Notes from Roger Brun