Why is this Wine so Yummy?
From 100% Pinot Noir in the premier cru Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Fabrice macerates the juice on the skins for up to 12 hours before it is pressed and fermented in enamel. Then 20% of the juice is separated into neutral barrels and the rest is blended with the previous year’s wine which has aged for 12 months in barrel.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Meunier
Vineyard: Les Chataignieres
Vinification: 100% Neutral Oak
Bottled: April 2016
Disgorged: March 2019
Dosage: 3 g/l
A Session with Fabrice
Ask a simple question about wine and you are often greeted with a basic scripted response that sadly is a close reflection of reality.
Ask Fabrice a ‘simple’ question with the intent of eliciting some deep thought and wisdom and that is exactly what you get.
When I worked in Champagne I saw both extremes of the spectrum. Wines that were dilute, battery acid with alcohol and bubbles in them. Then wines that were the real deal, wines with an incredible core of fruit, insane minerality, layered complexity, and, incredible harmony. Such sophistication and personality, they just cried out ‘DRINK ME’.
Fabrice makes the later. Where the big houses have all the resources in the world and could do so much more, few have. Fabrice has minuscule resources, yet manages to weave incredible detail through both the growing of his grapes and making of his wines.
Listen to the podcast and you’ll hear fascinating discussions around the soils, real ripeness, oxygen exposure during winemaking, The unique Méthod Fabrice Pouillon only replicated by Pascal Agrapart (a good mate of Fabrice’s) to perform the second fermentation in bottle.
With the amount of development and experimentation, Fabrice is undertaking you would be forgiven for thinking he is a large house, rather than a grower with just 6Ha of vines!
Wacth 👀or Listen 🎧to our Session with Fabrice!
The video includes footage throughout the year in the vineyard and winery, maps of champagne, annotations of the discussion, graphics & video inserts explaining elements of making Champagne.
About Champagne R.Pouillon
The Pouillon family has been growing grapes in the region for over a century, but it wasn’t until 1947 that Fabrice’s grandfather, Roger Pouillon, decided to produce wine from his holdings. In 1964, Roger was joined by his son James, who added to the vineyard holdings and modernised the cellar. Fabrice joined his father in 1998 after finishing degrees in both business and oenology schools, and he has taken the winery in an exciting new direction.
Fabrice is the current President of Terre et Vin de Champagne
The Champagne Lands and Wines project was born with a real desire to share our taste for authentic Champagne wines. Champagne terroirs are subtle and sometimes difficult to analyze when tasting the wine with its bubbles.
We are 20 winegrowers driven by the same passion, convinced of the quality and diversity of our Champagne soils.
We are 20 winegrowers , of all ages and from different geographical regions, who have the common will to get together in a friendly way to share our wines and our winegrower philosophies.
We are 20 winemakers with our own convictions, our viticulture and winemaking methods in which we believe in order to be able to enhance each grape variety, each climate, each year.
Once a year, we suggest that you experience the latest vintage on more than 30 different terroirs. You will also be able to taste the future vintages available after their foaming. The tasting “Terres et Vins de Champagne” is unique in Champagne, it stands out as the meeting place between enthusiasts united around honest wines made by women and men in the field.
FYI – The 20 are a Who’s Who of Grower Champagne Producers
In the Vineryard
Fabrice Pouillon is dedicated to the vitality, energy and health of his vineyards. In 2003, he began the conversion to organic viticulture and today incorporates biodynamic principles. He currently uses only organic compounds for fertiliser, cover crops to restore nutrients in the soil and plows alternating rows with his horse, Tango, to keep vine competition and soil aeration consistent.
Each year they perform soil analysis, determine how they wish to proceed and work organically and biodynamically to gently and slowly achieve the desired results. Mostly this is the focus of ensuring the vine has good access to the minerals of the soil, can draw them into the fruit and express them in the glass.
A collaborative project with a number of Champagne’s best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Growers is underway, think Agrapart ***********. Each performing a selection massale. The intent that they will share their best vines with each other and use them to gradually replant sections of vineyard. The aim to increase diversity in the vineyard, and, also complexity in the winery.
Work to find the best ways to manage the topsoil, working with an array of plants that help bring life to the soil, keep it open and allow water to penetrate building a reservoir for the vines is underway. This will give him options, allowing flexibility in how much he must work the soil, potentially enabling cultivation to be reduced.
He has never thought of buying in grapes, not knowing the vineyards as intimately as he does his own would not make for good wine.
In the Winery
Each of their 36 parcels are vinified and aged separately in a combination of enamel, stainless steel and oak, before being blended prior to secondary fermentation.
The simple question ‘How are you pressing?’ elicited just the response I was hoping for. Fabrice not only diverges from the traditional Champagne fractions of juice, free run & pressings. He breaks the juices down into a minimum of 4 components fermenting each of these separately. Fermenting in barrels makes this much easier logistically, their small volume offering flexibility. Not only that the first few litres squeezed from the grapes at the beginning of each pressing cycle are discarded as firstly they have solids in them that Fabrice finds undesirable and are more heavily oxidised. These are not the action of someone wanting to make battery acid fizz!
The cellars are being structured to reduce the need to pump. The press is being elevated, the barrels stored on 2 levels. Why? It allows him to choice when and how much oxygen to expose the juice and wine to rather than a pump under the press doing the job.
Is it overkill? Maybe. One thing is certain Fabrice won’t die without asking.
One of the most challenging aspects of making Champagne is the second fermentation in bottle. You won’t find any other process in a winery that is managed with as much detail as tirage. Failure to complete the bottle ferment has such high costs associated with it even the most ardent natural ferementer, think Prévost uses specialised cultured yeast for the job.
Fabric chooses not only to mess with the yeast, for one of his Cuvées the Chemin du Bois he uses juice from the same grapes as the sugar source. Pascal Agrapart is the only other producer to do this.
His messing with the yeast is natural with technique. During vintage he establishes a Pied de Cuve for the alcoholic fermentation. Once established he has a culture built by a company specialising in building yeast cultures that have the necessary number of live and most importantly very healthy bugs to finish a bottle fermentation.
These are just a few examples of the deep thought Fabrice put into every part of the process, in addition to putting his money where his mouth is to test out his ideas.
Where in the World is Champagne R.Pouillon?
Pouillon is based in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ to the north of Épernay. The Pouillon family’s 36 parcels of vines are in Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Avenay Val d’Or in the Grande Vallée, Epernay and Festigny along the Marne River, and Tauxières-Mutry, just to the north in the Montagne de Reims. The majority of the plantings are to Pinot Noir (3ha), followed by Chardonnay (2ha), and Pinot Meunier (1ha).
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🔎