Champagne JL Vergnon
“I am increasingly impressed with the Vergon Champagnes. In particular, the 2012 Hautes Mottes, 100% old-vine Chardonnay from a parcel next to Les Chétillons, is superb.” -- Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
This Article Contains
Didier Vergnon along with his son Clement and daughter in law Charlotte run the estate and Christophe Constant has been their head winemaker since 2002.
Vivacious, nervy, chalky, expressions of the southern Côte des Blancs. Chardonnay for people who love acid and minerality.
(By Archimatth - File:Vignobles_France.svg, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37093378)
Côte des Blancs
- Les Mesnil-sur-Oger, Grand Cru
- Avize, Grand Cru
- Oger, Grand Cru
- Vertus, 1er Cru
- Villeneuve, 1er Cru
- 30 years old on average
- Les Chetillons, they own several parcels in and next to the legendary vineyard in le Mesnil-sur-Oger
- Les Musettes, in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a lieu-dit and part of their Msnl blend.
- Les Hautes Mottes, in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a lieu-dit with their oldest vines, bottled as a single vineyard wine.
- Chemin de Flavigny, in Oger, a lieu-dit, now bottled as a single vineyard wine labeled OG.
- 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, 99%
- 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
- High Environmental Value (HVE) certified. One of Champagnes top sustainability certifications
- Avoid pesticides as much as possible
- Cover cropping
- Careful pruning to limit yields
- No malolactic fermentation to ensure freshness and purity
- They harvest very ripe fruit to avoid both chaptalization and the need for much dosage.
- Traditional vertical basket press
- Uses both stainless steel and barrels
- Aging for a minimum of 3 years (twice the legal minimum for non-vintage wines)
- Minimal dosage, between 0-5 grams/liter
For nearly 200 years the Vergnon family has lived in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, although back then it was as a retailer. In the 1950s the family realized wine growing was their passion and eventually they wanted to make their own wine, but it took until for that first release.
Today father and son team Didier and Clément run this tiny 5 hectare estate. Their commitment to quality starts in the vineyards with HVE certified grapes in some of the Côte de Blancs best villages. Their home base is in le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, the Grand Cru village home to Les Chetillons and Le Mesnil (of Pierre Peters and Krug fame respectively). The rest of their vineyards, whose old vines average 45 years, are scattered about the villages of Avize, Oger, Vertus and Villeneuve.
This is an estate that has grown on us over the years. As their vines age, now averaging 30 years, much older than the norm, and their techniques are dialed in, the wines have blossomed into thrilling, racy, elegant bottles with a clear sense of place and ineffable minerality. The last several releases have really got our attention and we can’t stop drinking them.
Members of Les Artisans du Champagne, along with the likes of Marc Hébrart, Savart and Vilmart, among others. They are a producer group promoting a like-minded focus on quality.
The resulting wines are pure, airy, earthy, chalky and absolutely delightful.
JL Vergnon, Champagne Conversation Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, NV $56.99 $50.15
"The NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Conversation Grand Cru is a fine introduction to the range. Deep, fleshy and super-expressive, the Conversation has so much to offer. Lemon confit marzipan, dried flowers and a kiss of spice all meld together in this generous, super-expressive Blanc de Blancs. Best of all, the Conversation is a terrific value in grower Champagne. Disgorged: October 27, 2021. 91 pts" -- By Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
JL Vergnon, Champagne Eloquence Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut, NV $59.99 $52.79
"The NV Extra-Brut Eloquence Grand Cru is another impressive wine in this range from Vergnon. The low dosage of three grams per liter brings out freshness and energy. Lemon peel, mint, white flowers and crushed rocks build effortlessly in the glass. This release, based on 2017 with 20% reserve wines, is gorgeous. Give this a good bit of air, as it opens very nicely over time. Disgorged: October 21, 2020. 93 pts" -- By Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
JL Vergnon, Champagne Murmure Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut Nature, NV $59.99 $52.79
"The NV Brut Nature Murmure Premier Cru, 100% 2018 Chardonnay from old vines in Vertus and Villeneuve, is bright and intensely mineral. Crushed rocks, citrus confit, white flowers and white pepper are all beautifully driven. This is an especially taut, nervy style, and it works so well. Disgorged: March, 2022. 92 pts" -- By Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
JL Vergnon, Champagne Rosémotion Grand Cru Extra Brut Rosé, NV $84.99 $74.79
"The NV Extra Brut Rosé Rosémotion Grand Cru is a bit light and fleeting in this tasting, with unfocused aromatics and faded fruit. Certainly next to the other wines in the range, it lacks depth, complexity and pedigree. Disgorged: May 26, 2021. 97 pts" -- By Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
JL Vergnon, Champagne OG Grand Cru Brut Nature, 2015 $101.99 $89.75
JL Vergnon, Champagne Hautes Mottes Grand Cru Brut Nature, 2013 $119.99 $105.59
"A toasty Champagne, with generous lime blossom, ground coffee, vanilla and oak spice aromatics, this is firm and lively, boasting a creamy mousse and flavors of poached quince, peach skin and raw almond. For fans of the style, though this will probably shine more brightly with a little time to absorb some of the oak. Disgorged October 2022. Best from 2025 through 2030. 91 pts" -- Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator