“Bright, energetic, and wonderfully finessed the A Mi-Chemin impresses me with its fine overall balance” -- Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
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The vineyards first, creating a healthy biosphere with animals and plants to grow healthy grapes. Craft beautiful wines from gorgeous fruit, showing the terroir of each place without makeup or adornment.
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Côte dee Blancs
- Oger, Grand Cru
- Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Grand Cru
- Vertus, 1er Cru
- This was the northern edge of viticulture until recent decades
- 2nd most northern grape growing region in France, after Alsace, but much less sunshine and more rain.
- Harsh cold winters, short hot summers
- Rain in summer, snow in winter
- Very wet climate, although drought has been an issue in recent vintages because of climate change
- Viticulture is possible because of long, (hopefully) dry, temperate autumns to extend the growing season.
- Because ripeness was a struggle, grapes are usually grown for white wine, or in the last 150 years, sparkling wines.
- Variations between his sites are due to aspect, elevation and proximity to water, like the Marne river.
- Cool climate red varieties Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier dominate, but the vast majority are destined for white or rosé sparkling wines.
- Wines are going to be high in acidity, light in body, low in alcohol, and often need extended aging of 18 months or more to temper the high acidity.
- Sugar is often added to wines at the end, called dosage, to help balance the high acidities from cold climate grapes.
- Chardonnay, 100%
- Adds finesse and freshness
- Often a signature lemon meringue pie flavor profile.
- If handled reductively, can impart white flower, ginger, green apple, quince and other primary flavors
- Oxidative or aged examples can be full of brioche, kernel, honey and truffle
- Does best in east facing sites with little to no top soil on chalk and other limestones
Organic & Biodynamic
- Certified bio in 2023
- Started phase out of herbicides the 2000s
- Herbal teas, essential oils, green manure and eco-pasture, are used
- Each parcel is pressed separately
- Fermentation with wild yeasts
- Experimenting with different vessels and sizes: barrels, stainless steel, and amphora
- On the full lees to prevent oxidation after 1st fermentation for 10 months
- Minimal sulfur additions, every vessel is tasted many, many times and only dosed if needed
- Malolactic happens naturally or not at all
- Unfined and unfiltered before bottling
Alexandre Chartogne once told our friends at Skurnik that the favorite vintage that he ever produced was 2006. 2006 happened to be his very first, and it came together magically. Beginner’s luck? Or is it the fact that for your first vintage, you’re just running purely on instinct, and if you’re a genius like Alexandre, the results can be fantastic.
Now it’s Alexandre’s friend’s turn. His name is Paul Girard, and he has just released the first vintage of his Champagne under the family label Girard-Bonnet. Whether it’s beginner’s luck or pure instinct, we have no idea. But we do know that the result is incredible.
Girard’s instincts did not come from nowhere. He grew up in the Côte des Blancs, inheriting vineyards from both his father (Les Mesnil), and mother (Oger). He has lived and breathed – and smelled and drunk – Chardonnay from Champagne all his life.
He follows somewhat in the style of Chartogne, with a mix of classicism and the most rigorous practices of Grower producers today (organic farming, minimal SO2 additions, etc.).
We don’t know what people will be saying about future vintages from Paul Girard, but we strongly suspect that the success of this wine goes far beyond beginner’s luck.
The resulting style is clean and taut, but vibrant in a way that reflects great farming and terroir. There is an intensity and precision here that is already plainly visible, but that will only become more apparent as bottles develop over the next few years or so.
Girard-Bonnet, Champagne A mi Chemin Blancs de Blanc Extra Brut, NV $49.99 $43.99
“The NV Extra-Brut Blanc des Blancs ‘A Mi-Chemin’ is fabulous. Bright, energetic and wonderfully finessed, the A Mi-Chemin impresses with its fine overall balance. Crushed rocks, spice, dried flowers, herbs and citrus oil infuse the A Mi-Chemin with tons of nuance as well as complexity. I admire the transparent energy and precision here. Best of all, this should be a terrific value.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media