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Larmandier-Bernier 1er Cru ‘Terre de Vertus’ Blanc de Blancs MAGNUM 2012

A beautiful expression of Chardonnay. 2012 really is shining!

Disgorged March 2018. Terre de Vertus is one of three single terroir Chardonnay wines produced here and certainly the most famous. It is 100% Chardonnay coming from the chalky 1er Cru vineyard plots in the neighbouring Les Barillers and Les Faucherets, situated mid-slope in Vertus. These sites make the most explicitly mineral wines of the village, wines that can recall the best of Le Mesnil (to the north) in their raciness and drive. The natural alcoholic fermentation and the malolactic fermentation begin spontaneously (without inoculation) in large oval Stockinger and the wines are left on their natural lees for nearly a year (and undergo gentle bâtonnage) with no fining or filtration prior to bottling. This wine is non-dosé (no sugar is added), in order to respect its purity from beginning to end. The result is one of the most distinctive and mineral wines of the entire Champagne region and today it is one of the touchstone wines of the great grower movement. All class now, it will only get better with another 1-5 years on cork.

Check out the article in the Wine Bites Mag explaining why Champagne Magnums are better.

$340.00
$325ea in any 3+ $310ea in any 6+

Available on backorder

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

Winemaking

The grapes are pressed gently, the juices are clarified very slightly and then go directly into wood. The natural alcoholic fermentation (indigenous yeasts) and the malolactic fermentation begin spontaneously in the Stockinger casks and vats. The wines are matured on the natural lees during their first year, with no filtering or fining being carried out.

The tirage takes place at the end of July and there is no blending with other years – this is a vintage Champagne – or with other terroirs – this is a single-parcel cuvée.

The bottles are taken down into the coolness of the cellars and stacked on lattes, the second fermentation takes place and maturation goes on for at least 5 more years. Each bottle is disgorged by hand 6 months before being marketed.

This wine is 0% dosage (no sugar added) so as to respect, throughout, its purity.

Grower Champagnes

I don’t know who coined the term “Grower Champagne”, when you see it, make sure you take a second look before you move on. Champagne producers are split into three groups:

  1. Houses that make over-cropped boring fizz, battery acid with bubbles and a bit of alcohol.
  2. Bigger houses that are pushing hard to make yummy wine, own some of their vineyards, buy a lot of grapes and have some exceptional super cuvées (top wines – think Dom Pérignon).
  3. Grower producers that grow 100% of their grapes themselves and make wines that have bags of personality.

Larmandier-Bernier sits comfortably in the Grower group. Doing all the little 1 percenters in the vineyard and winery that make the difference between a drink and a pleasure fest!

Visit the vineyards and you’ll see horse-drawn ploughs and during the pruning and harvesting seasons the same faces year after year. That kind of continuity just makes for deep knowledge and empathy for the vineyards that = great wine.

In the winery, the effort goes in with the use of old oak barrels and foudré, large format barrels reaching into the 1000’s of litres each. Lees stirring, re-suspending yeast from fermentation that has settled to the bottom of the barrel to add extra creaminess and complexity. Use of carefully crafted reserve wines in the blends. Reserve wines are older wines that are a blend of several different years, often stored in foudré. Their use imparts complexity and a generosity that you wouldn’t see in the wine until it had been aged for much longer in bottle were it not for their use.

All of these things only have a positive impact when the fruit is of quality, has the depth to handle oxygen contact and be improved by it rather than fall apart.

Combined the effort in the vineyard and winery result in layered, complex, yummy wine, with bags of personality.

“The Larmandier-Bernier Champagnes are some of the purest and most utterly engaging wines being made in the region today. I can’t recommend them highly enough.” Antonio Galloni

“Few growers’ ranges in Champagne are as consistently outstanding as that of Larmandier-Bernier” Andrew Jefford, The New France

“In a region where vineyard work is not always given the priority it deserves, Larmandier-Bernier is a model of what can be achieved through conscientious and diligent care in the vines.” Peter Liem

About Larmandier Bernier

Like Egly-Ouriet and Selosse, Larmandier-Bernier has been rated as one of Champagne’s top 5 producers by Andrew Jefford in his celebrated work, The New France, [Mitchell Beazley]. This estate is meticulously run by Pierre Larmandier and his wife Sophie. Pierre’s family have owned vineyards in the Côte des Blancs since the Revolution. The estate is now 15 hectares, predominantly in Vertus, at the Southern tip of the Côte des Blancs, yet there are also holdings in Cramant, Chouilly, Oger & Avize. The vineyards are biodynamically worked (almost unheard of in Champagne) and the average age of the vines is 35 years (most Champagne vineyards are considered ‘old’ and due for replanting at 25 years). Yields are kept very low by Champagne standards, 50 hl/ha on average.

In the winery the approach is classic “minimalist” with indigenous yeasts, long, slow ferments of up to two months and very little sulphur. A mixture of fermenting vessels are utilised including large oak vats and even barriques. Very low dosage levels too and the dosage is designed to be as neutral as possible. Sometimes, as is the case in the “Terre de Vertus” there is no dosage at all. In other words, everything is designed to maximise the expression of the vineyard, commune and vintage. The resulting wines are wonderful expressions of their origins, fine and delicate, yet with and a mineral intensity that keeps you coming back, sip after sip. Peter Liem (champagneguide.net) has written: “Larmandier-Bernier is one of the finest estates in the Côte des Blancs, producing wines of unusual detail and clarity of expression. The style is for champagnes that are dry, minerally and terroir-driven, emphasizing purity and finesse over richness or sheer power.”Such purity and minerality could only come from the man that Laurent d’Harcourt, MD of Pol Roger, recently dubbed “The Ayatollah of quality” and his impeccably tended vineyards.

Where in Champagne are Larmandier-Bernier’s Vineyards

Based in Vertus Larmandier-Bernier’s vineyards are dotted throughout the Côtes des Blancs with thin top soils over chalky bedrock. The Longitude comes from a string of vineyards that run in a line north to south in the villages of Vertus, Cramant, Oger & Avize.

The map below shows the main sub-regions of Champagne

Click to enlarge🔎


From left to right Champagne vineyards by Soil Type, Aspect and Dominant Varietal

Click on a map to enlarge🔎

93+ Points

The 2012 Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 1er Cru Terre de Vertus is powerful, dense and also surprisingly tightly wound given the richness of the year. Readers will have to be patient with the 2012, as it is quite closed in on itself today. Dried pear, green apple, citrus, smoke, licorice and dried herbs open up over time, but the 2012 offers a decidedly austere and nervy expression of Chardonnay at this stage. Even so, the interplay of power and crystalline intensity is compelling. Non-dosé. Disgorged: March 2018.

Antonio Galloni

93 Points

The 2012 Terre de Vertus is a handy follow-up to the 2010 with a refined, chalky nose that has attractive, flavorsome stone fruit with some tropical hints, too. Really fleshy and expressive. Nicely chiseled mineral cut at the finish. Drink now.

Nick Stock for James Suckling

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Larmandier-Bernier Champagne, Avenue du Général de Gaulle, Vertus, France

France

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Champagne

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Côte des Blancs

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Vertus

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