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Now run by Marianne, daughter of Fabienne Heucq, husband Philippe Gamet along with their son Jean-François
Very small production, artisanal bubbles, crafted by hand from a polycultural farm. These are bubbles of the earth, wholesome, delicious and energetic.
(By Archimatth - File:Vignobles_France.svg, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37093378)
Vallée de la Marne
- Fleurie la Rivière
- 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.
- Pinot Meunier
- Supple and fruity, often easier to drink younger than the other two, which makes it a great blending partner.
- Had a poor reputation until the last decade as it was planted in the worst sites, poorly farmed, and over-cropped as a work-horse, or filler grape.
- Now we know when treated with care, it can shine brilliantly on its own or add an inimitable character to a blend (notably in Krug).
- Easier to grow than the other two. It buds later than Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, meaning it's a great insurance policy against the late frosts that can decimate the groups of Champagne.
- Its dynamic nature also means it can find a home in any of the soil types of the region, but furthermore, can express terroir with clarity.
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- Pinot Noir
- Critical for structure and body, more powerful than the other two grapes
- Fruit profile can include red apple, strawberry, apricot, and peach
- Savory notes of spices, stones, rose petal and violet
- Almost always the grape used for rosé Champagne
- Shows best in on south facing sites with clay over chalk
- 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
Traditional with sustainable practices
- Every year is different, so pragmatism is key
- Synthetics are alternated with products like copper and sulfur, when allowed
- Some vintages grass is allowed to grow, others are tilled
- They are polycultural and also bee keep, make cider and farm cereals
Traditional, with natural practices
- Fermentation is with a pied de cuve from their vineyards
- Use a mix of vessels: stainless steel, demi-muids and barrels
- Maturation in barrel for 10 months before bottling
- Aging on the lees for 2-6 years depending on the cuvée
One of the newer producers in the Skurnik line up and an innovative one at that. Two families, originally female pioneer growers after WWI, have come together from either side of the Marne river to find a deeper understanding of their terroir. Not only are they growing grapes, they focus on farming other food crops, cider making, and keeping the protection of their cherished environment above all else.
Fabienne Heucq from Fleury-la-Rivière on the warmer right bank met, fell in love with, married and joined estates with Philippe Gamet from Mardueil, on the cooler left bank. Today they work alongside their children, Marianne & Jean-François, to create beautiful, complex and delicious wines.
The wines are fresh and appealing, light on their feet with nice textural elements and great complexity for the price. This is thanks to having a lot of land with a wide variation in exposition, elevation and soil type, and all three grapes.
Gamet, Champagne Cider, NV $32.99 $29.03
Gamet, Champagne Rive Droite Blanc des Noirs Brut, NV $52.99 $46.63
Gamet, Champagne Rive Droite Blanc des Noirs Brut, NV (375ml) $39.99 $35.19
"The NV Brut Blanc des Noirs Rive Droite (base 2020) is laced with sweet red plum, kirsch, ginger, spice and dried flowers. Medium in body yet quite persistent, the Blanc de Noirs has a ton to offer. It's rich but not at all heavy, and certainly well balanced. Pretty floral accents lift the finish. The Rive Droite is a bit reticent but very nicely done. 90pts" -- Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Gamet, Champagne Rosé Brut, NV $54.99 $48.39
"A rosé blend of black grapes only, blended with red Meunier Coteaux-Champenois, homemade! A fruity and full-bodied wine, orchestrated by a clay minerality that gives volume on the palate. The whole is fresh and delicious! A festive rosé, for all the good times." Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Gamet, Champagne Rive Gauche Brut, NV $56.99 $50.15
Gamet, Champagne Rive Gauche Brut, NV (1.5L) $139.99 $123.19
Gamet, Champagne Rive Gauche Brut, NV (3L) $350.00 $308.00
"Rive Gauche is a blend of Mardeuil terroirs, a cru where 1/3 of their holdings are located. Clay-limestone terroirs, rich in minerals where the three Champagne grape varieties are present. Meunier, king of the Valley, Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay. This cuvée, elegant and of great finesse, is introduced by notes of peach, quince, roasted almond, acacia flowers and hawthorn. A fruity and floral cuvée offering an intense clay minerality, accompanied by aromas of fleshy fruits." Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Gamet, Champagne Caractères Réserve Perpetuelle Extra Brut, NV $82.99 $73.03
Gamet, Champagne Caractères Réserve Perpetuelle Extra Brut, NV (1.5L) $159.99 $140.79
"The NV Extra Brut Caracteres Reserve Perpetuelle (base 2016) is a Meunier based wine with reserves going back 1999. Those older vintages lend notable complexity as well as character. Apricot, spice, hazelnut, dried pear and crushed herbs all meld together effortlessly. This is really quite gorgeous. 93 pts" -- Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Gamet, Champagne Rosé de Saignée Brut, 2018 $77.99 $68.63
Gamet, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, 2018 $88.99 $78.31
Gamet, Champagne Heurte-Loup Blanc de Meunier, 2018 $94.99 $83.59
"A mineral-driven Champagne defined by bracing acidity. Verges on lean, but the soft, wooly mousse helps to counter the impression as well as carry the subtle weave of black currant, raw almond, saffron and toast. Drink now. 217 cases made, 38 cases imported. 89 pts" -- Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator