Why is this Wine so Yummy?
2017 was nothing if not a year of contrasts for Jérôme Prévost. On the positive side, this was the year that Prévost finished his new cuverie and house, right on the edge of the Les Béguines vineyard. Sadly, the excitement of the new cellars and home was tempered by a disastrous April frost that wiped out around 80% of his potential crop. For a grower with only 2.2 hectares of vines and who only makes vintage wines, this was devastating.
The French have a saying, apres la pluie le beau temps, which closely aligns with our every cloud has a silver lining. Prévost’s neighbour in Les Béguines offered him the fruit from 40 acres (0.4 hectares) of vines, on an ongoing basis, to add to the wine he was able to produce from his own vines in 2017. Of course this meant that Prévost needed to apply (hastily and successfully) for Négociant Manipulant (NM) status—his Récoltant Manipulant (RM) status would not have allowed him to purchase fruit. It was this conversion to NM that brings us to the silver lining. Not only was Prévost able to purchase enough fruit from nearby vines to make an outstanding Les Béguines, he has also secured some additional parcels of fruit from two new Grand Cru sites from a couple whom Jérôme refers to as “lovely, young and talented” growers. The first vintage from this fruit is currently in bottle.
2017 was nothing if not a year of contrasts for Jérôme Prévost. Prévost’s new cuverie is now up and running, and not a moment too soon. Prévost had long outgrown his previous cellars—the small barn-cum-winery behind his former house where, quite literally, you couldn’t swing a cat—so the new bespoke digs are just what the doctor ordered. Sadly the excitement of the new cellars (and new house) were tempered by Prévost’s smallest harvest imaginable. To paraphrase Dickens, in 2017 the [weather] did what it liked, and what it liked was destruction. Prévost’s Les Béguines lost 80% in the much-publicized April frosts, a figure that was then exacerbated by the freakish summer rains and subsequent humidity. For a large or medium-sized producer, the final losses of roughly 90%, would have been grim enough.
For a grower with only 2.2 hectares of vines and who only makes vintage wines, it could be devastating. For this reason Prévost decided to apply (successfully) for négociant status and was able to supplement his own harvest with fruit from some of his neighbour’s vines in Les Béguines. But that’s another (exciting and positive) story for another day, one that will be relevant for the 2017 release next year. For now let’s just say that Prévost’s brand new cuverie isn’t quite are bare as it might have been.
Nothing is forced. The fruit is picked ripe and the wine is vinified without any additions in large format, used barrels for ten months. Bottled unfiltered, Prévost disgorges the wine after roughly 17 months on lees and adds approximately 2g/L dosage, (so extra brut). These are wines that always show better after time in bottle, five + years is ideal, but even a year or two makes a great difference. Frustrating but true. That’s not to say these wines won’t give pleasure when young!
“Jérôme Prévost’s tiny cellar outside of Reims is barely big enough to hold a few barrels, a bit of rudimentary equipment and a visitor or two. That’s about it. But the wines, well, they don’t really need anything else when there is so much attention to caring for the land.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com
“Today there are a handful of wines from elite, artisanal grower-estates in Champagne that have attracted a nearly cult-like following. One of the most sought-after of these is the meunier of Jérôme Prévost.” Peter Liem, www. ChampagneGuide.net
“… one of the most courageous and creative of Champagne’s many growers” Michael Edwards, The Finest Wines of Champagne
Les Béguines, is in Gueux, 10km west of Reims in the north of the region.
Where in Champagne are Agrapart’s Vineyards
Prévost’s 2.2 hectare vineyard, Les Béguines, is in Gueux, 10km west of Reims in the north of the region. Inherited from Jérôme’s grandmother, the site was planted in the 1960s with an old, slow growing, rootstock that descends deeply. Les Béguines is close to 100% Pinot Meunier, although there is a small amount of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc, that was planted about a decade ago. The soil of Les Béguines is a layer cake of calcareous sand (Thanetian sand), and clay. The vineyard management is of course organic, with the soils cultivated and yields kept at balanced levels.
The map below shows the main sub-regions of Champagne
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From left to right Champagne vineyards by Soil Type, Aspect and Dominant Varietal
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