I have long been impressed with this producer from the Aube. Founded originally by Jules and Auguste Devaux in 1846 it was carried forward all the way in the mid 20th Century by three incredible women who were each widowed. The last in the Devaux line was Jean-Pol Devaux who, in 1987, entrusted the brand to Laurent Gillet, president of the ‘Union Auboise’ (the then supplier for the Devaux Blanc de Noirs).
The house was originally to be found on the illustrious Avenue de Champagne in Epernay but is now to be discovered in the equally beautiful Manoir de Villeneuve on the banks of the river Seine.
Devaux works with 80 growers and 100 hectares in the Aube and the some parcels in Montgueux and the Cote de Blancs. They only use Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They have access to a fascinating collection of vineyards throughout the Aube; Les Riceys, Vallee de la Seine, Vallee de l’Aube, Vallee de la Laignes and Vallees de l’Arce and de L’Ource. Although they express that Les Riceys is the backbone of their cuvees, it is this incredible selection and their aim of creating beauty through diversity of the region that allows them the opportunity to create such a fabulous expression of the Aube.
The range is split into two; Classic and Cuvee D. They use only the Cuvee for both and oak fermentation for the Cuvee D. The Classic range have 3 years of lees aging, Cuvee D five years. The Classic range see 25% reserve wines, the Cuvee D 40%. Limited batonnage is used for the Cuvee D range. Each plot is vinified separately and the winemaker, Michel Parisot, likes to play around with various vinification methods for each plot, be it malo/no malo, heart of the cuvee/cuvee. He never uses new ak for the Pinot Noir, only Chardonnay and only uses young barrels; 1 to 5 years. A solera is going back to 1995 is used for up to 12% of the blend.
Grande Reserve Brut is a 70/30 blend of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay. A touch of biscuit and a hint of candy. Hint of stonefruit with a rich, bulbous palate.
Cuvee Rosee is a fascinating mix of bland and saignee. Very dry style, quite serious. You hardly notice the 9 grams of sugar.
Cuvee D, a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay with 7 g/ltr and is hugely rich in comparison to the Classic range. Butter biscuit. A huge step up in complexity and you notice the little hike in Chardonnay. The mousse is beautifully creamy and elegant. I was fortunate enough to try both a 2009 base and a 1997 base which showed just how well this NV develops with bottle age.
Ultra D is the same blend as the Cuvee D but with only 2 g/ltr. For me the Pinot Noir sung a bit more with this wine and I found it a bit more hard work. Definitely one for food.
D Rose is always a vintage but not labelled. A 50/50 blend, it has some lovely candied strawberry notes to it and is beautifully complex yet easy to drink. Lovely.
D Millesime is again a 50/50 blend, which with the 2008 vintage showed brilliant freshness with even a green stem note to it. Intense, and at points across the palate, somewhat hidden but you sense this will develop beautifully over the next decade or so. The oak takes some time to show itself on the palate.
Stenope is somewhat of an anomaly being a collaboration between Champagne Devaux and Michel Chapoutier. Always made from one year and Michel’s preferred parcels. The intention is to produce this wine every year to be a true ‘snapshot’, as the name suggests, of the terroir. The wine is vinified in oak and the first release was the 2008. There is a lovely roasted oak note which is a touch overpowering to start but softens and delivers starfruit and saline notes. The acidity is huge, but controlled. The 2009 is a little bit more linear and warming. A touch more generous at present with a focused finish.
They are without a doubt one of the best cooperative producers and create a wine, because of their access to such an incredible palate of growers, that is more akin to a negociant than a CM.
Village: Bar sur Seine
Region: La Cote des Bar
Cuvée De Prestige: Stenope
Year Founded: 1846
Recent Tasting Notes from Devaux