Louis Picamelot Cremant de Bourgogne 'Les Reipes' 2018
This exceptional terroir of 1.55 hectare inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2015 is located on the south-facing slopes of the village of Saint-Aubin at an altitude of around 350 meters. This Cuvée, called Les Reipes, is a Louis Picamelot’s interpretation of a Blanc de Blancs that is distinguished by its precision and great purity, resulting from a perfectionism and a constant search for refinement.
Visually, its color is bright. The bubble is a gush of finesse. The freshness of the citrus notes, the complexity of the Chardonnay and and the subtle balance between delicacy and aromatic strength make this a wine more appropriate to food than to aperitif. Elegant and generous, this Crémant will be perfect for meals.
This Crémant de Bourgogne is made with grapes coming from only one plot of vineyard 100% Chardonnay. This plot called Les Reipes is located on the heights of Saint-Aubin village in Hautes Côtes de Beaune. The manual harvesting begins when the grapes are strictly ripe enough and they are transported in small perforated cases to keep the whole berries intact and to avoid all risks of oxidation.
The juice is slowly extracted using a pneumatic press. They keep only the first presses, called “Coeur de Cuvée”. 150 kg of grapes pressed give 75 liters of base wine. The musts are then left to rest in a Custom-made stainless-steel vat with a particular shape where the alcoholic fermentation occurs on fine lees. Once the fermentations ended, the resulting wine ages in a vat on fine lees during several months before being bottled with an addition of a sugar and yeast blend. Secondary fermentation (called “prise de mousse”) takes place in the cellar where the bottles lay on laths for over 3 years at a temperature between 12 and 14°C. The bottles are then riddled and disgorged before adding less than 6g/litre of grape sugar called “liqueur d’expédition” (Extra brut). After the labelling and final closure of the bottle using a cork and a metal cap, this Crémant de Bourgogne should be ideally tasted 6 months after the disgorging date written on the back label.
Founded in 1926, the Maison Louis Picamelot is today one of the oldest Crémant houses in Burgundy, and without a doubt the most distinguished. Philippe Chautard, Louis Picamelot’s grandson and the present owner has dedicated the house to a level of excellence that is rare by Champagne standards and unheard of in the world of Crémant.
Applied and original, Louis Picamelot Crémants stand out, each in their own way, but above all in their level of personality and perfection. Theirs is a quest to express Burgundian ‘terroir’ in Crémant in the same way that the best still wines from the best vineyards can. To this end, the house owns, vinifies and produces single-vineyard Crémants that show the hand of an artist.
It was not always this way. In 1926, Louis Picamelot was one of the first inhabitants of Rully to invest in the production of “Bourgogne Mousseux”, produced by what was then called the Methode Champenoise. Today, we call it the Traditional Method. This was merchant wine, produced from basic wines, purchased in years of heavy harvest, that were ‘champagned’.
Louis Picamelot had two daughters who married Jean-Baptiste Chautard and Louis Siraudin . They both joined Maison Louis Picamelot in 1949 and 1953. Philippe Chautard, second son of Jean-Baptiste Chautard, joined the house in 1981 and became its manager in 1987.
As late as 1991, the house was buying 100% of the grapes they used. Between 2007 and 2011, in order to ensure control over the quality of the grapes, they acquired just over 10 hectares of vines located in the Côte Chalonnaise and the Côte de Beaune. In order to put the Burgundian “terroir” in the fore, in 2008 they first produced a Crémant de Bourgogne with grapes coming from only one plot. The “Terroir de Chazot” was born. Other single-vineyard wines followed.
Today the house still buys some grapes, but only from selected producers and only in organic production. And the vineyard holdings that they own have been chosen especially for their individual expressions of Burgundy ‘terroir’. Notably, every bottle of Louis Picamelot Cremant is from a single vintage wine; there are no reserve wines, no blending of vintages; no ‘house style’.
In 2000, Phillipe Chautard acquired an old quarry in the village (4000 m²) which was brilliantly transformed into a modern winery, literally carved out of the rock. The green roof and the stone walls of the old quarry offer a naturally controlled temperature, which fits well into the house’s environmental approach.
This new cellar heralds a new direction and the progress of a rising Crémant de Bourgogne producer which skyrockets towards quality. The place, which is both a production, storage and promotion tool, is part of a natural setting. Rock, concrete and oak were used to build a site at a cost of € 3 million. Enough to initiate a wine tourism approach for this 2000 m² cellar in the center of Rully. The building is today the showcase for the development of direct sales.
BURGUNDY 2018 VINTAGE
There has been talk over the past year of the 2018 vintage in Burgundy being one of the greatest of all time. Comparisons with the mythical 1947, and all that. But let’s be careful and take a closer look.
We’ve tasted some marvelous wines, both white and red, and from all of the appellation levels. Purity and concentration would be the key words across the board.
But lest we forget, 2018 was the hottest vintage in Burgundy since 2003. And frankly, we were expecting wines like we got in 2003: flabby whites and Cote du Rhone-like reds. But that did not happen. And the secret to understanding 2018 Burgundy lies in understanding the difference between these two very hot years.
If you look at 2018 from start to finish, not only was it hot, it was dry: 50% less precipitation than the annual average over the past 30 years. However, if you were here in the early part of the year, you’ll certainly remember the rain.
After a very dry summer in 2017, winter 2017-18 was wet. It rained nearly every day through March and into April. And the vine was slow to bud.
That all changed in the middle of April. Wet soil and higher temperatures brought on explosive growth in the vineyards that the vignerons had a tough time keeping up with. In a week we went from bud burst to unfurled leaves.
The first flowers burst in mid-May. The crop set regularly with very little disruption, and summer settled in. The early wet conditions followed by April’s warmth saw the onset of mildew, but the fungus never stood a chance.
It was a hot and sunny summer. Some would say it was a heat wave and a drought. And we started to see signs of stress in vineyards in certain sectors. Things were better where there was a little rain. But August was bone dry. In fact, there was no rain from June 15th to the end of October.
It was about this time that comparisons to 2015 cropped up. You could see ripeness rapidly approaching, and there was talk of harvest starting at the end of August.
The vines were incredibly healthy; no moisture means no threat from mildew or odium. No rot. Good ripeness.
And, for the first time since 2009….a normal yield! So, let the harvest begin!
And it did, in the last days of August. What was most astonishing right from the start was that the perceived acidity levels seem OK. Granted, there’s no malic acid, but the levels of tartaric acid seem to be compensating, and there is an over-all impression of balance.
Also amazing was the amount of juice the crop produced. Not only was the yield bigger than the past 10 years’ average, but the amount of juice set a record for Burgundy. So there will be a lot of 2018 around.
And all this in a year that felt more like the south of Spain than Burgundy as we know it. The only thing we can attribute the quality of 2018 to is the abundant winter rains, and the vine’s ability to go searching for water when it needs it.
CREMANT DE BOURGOGNE
Sparkling Bourgogne made its entrance into history when it was lauded by the poet Alfred de Musset (1820-1857) in his “Secrètes pensées de Raphaël”. It was first made at the beginning of the 19th century at Chablis, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Rully and Tonnerre, and since then has not ceased to sparkle. It was for a long time the practice to make effervescent versions of prestigious Burgundian Grands Crus but the AOC status granted in 1975 laid down strict conditions for its production on the basis of meticulously-applied traditional skills to achieve high-quality vinification. Only whites and rosés qualify for the appellation. They may be blanc de blancs (from white grapes) or blanc de noirs (from white-juiced black grapes). Most are classed as brut or, less often, demi-sec. The production area is the same as that for the appellation Bourgogne.
A wine bursting with youth and audacity. In its youth, it is freshness and vigor. Given time, it acquires the stateliness of a great wine. The brut reflects its lively and clear-cut personality. As demi-sec, vivacity yields to smoothness and a new taste impression of sweetness.The blanc is generally white-gold in color. The bubbles are fine and form a delicate necklace around the edge of the glass. Floral, citrusy and mineral aromas are matched in the mouth by freshness and elegance plus a degree of acidity that is the key to a proper balance between aromatic power and the desired degree of lightness. The blanc de blancs carries the perfume of white flowers, citrus fruits or green apples. With time, it will develop toasty notes and notes of pitted-fruits such as apricot or peach. The blanc de noirs exhales aromas of small fruits (cherry, blackcurrant, raspberry). In the mouth, powerful, long and persistent. Time adds charm and warmth, with aromas of dried fruits and, perhaps, honey, spices or nutmeg. The rosé, made from Pinot Noir grapes with or without a proportion of Gamay, is pink-gold in color. This is a delicate wine with subtle aromas of red fruits.
The grapes from which the ‘vins de base’ for Crémant de Bourgogne are made come from a wide variety of soils in vineyard districts throughout Bourgogne.They range from the chalky subsoil of the Joigny district in the north to the granites of southern Bourgogne, via the limestones and marls of the Côtes where most of the wines of this appellation are grown.
Whites and rosés: main varieties Pinot Noir, Chardonnay (minimum 30%)
Secondary varieties: Gamay (20% maximum), Aligoté, Melon, Sacy
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
326.44 ha (including 201.54 ha Premier Cru)
Although Crémant de Bourgogne is a perfect pre-dinner drink, this in no way takes away from the fact that it is also a perfect accompaniment to food. The blanc chimes with main dishes such as stewed poultry.With the blanc de blancs, try scallops or river fish. The blanc de noirs makes a great match for braised beef, or snails, and is the ideal partner for poultry. The rosé is a good choice as a dessert wine with its powerful floral aromas which go perfectly with ice cream and bring a touch of freshness to the close of a meal. It is ideal with pastries and its fruit scents are unbeatable with a red-fruit sorbet.