Exploring the 2012 Champagne Telmont Lieux-Dits Parcelle Sous Adrien: A Study in Plot Variations

By | 5 March 2024

A “smoldering” 100 percent Pinot Meunier.


Anne Krebiehl MW

A pure Pinot Meunier from a special site in Damery is Telmont’s successful first foray into single-plot winemaking, says Anne Krebiehl MW.

It all started in 2011, with the arrival of seven large foudres in Champagne Telmont’s cellars in Damery. Each of them holds 5,000 liters of wine and, says cellar master Betrand Lhôpital, presented him with “a great opportunity for specific winemaking.” In September, Lhôpital was in London to present Champagne Telmont’s first single-plot Champagne, a pure Pinot Meunier from lieu-dit Sous Adrien, also in Damery.

“Obviously,” he states, “it was an excellent chance. The practice of making wine from a single plot was evident.” He did not hesitate. For the harvest of 2012, he mentions, “I singled out four unique plots in Damery and additional plots from grape growers.” He carried out their vinification individually in the foudres. “My intention was to comprehend the terroir. Why? Because it is the fundamental part of blending. A blend is akin to a sports team: To ensure the team functions in harmony, it’s essential to grasp the individual players and their distinct traits. I had to understand,” he elucidates. Despite that, tasting the assorted base wines from these distinct plots was not sufficient to build his understanding. “I needed to progress in bottle,” he asserts—meaning that he also desired to perceive how the different plots would fare after the second round of fermentation. Each of the barrels was consequently bottled separately and aged under natural cork. “We conducted seven different bottlings: Two of Meunier, five of Chardonnay,” he discloses. The Pinot Meunier from the Sous Adrien plot in Damery is thus the brand’s initial séléction parcellaire to be launched. “With this one, the aging process is completed; it is prepared to be showcased,” Lhôpital expresses.

“We crafted this wine 11 years ago. My astonishment is still present. This is something vastly more than merely agréable; it is a profound satisfaction, a revelation, because even after 11 years, the wine retains its freshness,” he comments. “That corroborates that you can produce single-plot wines if you pay heed to the vineyard, to the selection of the single plot, and the appropriate winemaking—even if the grape used is Meunier. The majority state that Meunier lacks the capacity to age. But if executed properly,” he proclaims emphatically, “Meunier can age effortlessly.” I hint that those who hold that belief probably never sampled Les Beguines from Jérôme Prévost’s La Closerie. Lhôpital concurs, naturally, and his wine provides further compelling proof. It aged for nine years on lees, Lhôpital explains, “It required time, as it was non-malolactique. It was matured under cork and we brewed the wine with bâtonnage. We did everything possible to create this style of Champagne that possessed the ability to age.”

The 0.79ha (1.95-acre) Sous Adrien plot is situated near the Telmont winery in Damery, faces south, and stretches from the middle to the foot of the slope. “The parcel is ideally positioned on the hillside, not too elevated. This indicates that it enjoys nice, fairly deep, brown limestone soil, significantly more than the parcels higher up on the hill,” Lhôpital narrates. “The key quality of this rich, brown soil, which is excellent at retaining moisture, is that it provides optimal conditions for the vines. They thrive more, show more color, and are less impacted by potential droughts. These were some elements that had a crucial influence in 2012. This brown soil generally generates more consistent, well-rounded wines, with greater body and appeal.” The vines were planted in 2006 on Fercal rootstock. “2012 presented extraordinary weather conditions, which enabled these vines to exhibit all their youthful potency and expressiveness in a truly extraordinary manner. They certainly hold further surprises for us down the line,” he assures.

There are currently no concrete plans for the release of the other single-plot wines. According to Lhôpital, who doesn’t vinify single plots annually, they often taste these wines and subsequently decide the right time for their release. Whenever he finds the balance rightly achieved, he enjoys the process, revealing a lighthearted smile.

2012 Telmont Lieux-Dits Parcelle Sous Adrien (12% ABV)

The initial impression of this wine releases a hint of smoked plum combined with the sweetness of candied lemon. Upon tasting, a hint of rye bread crumb is perceivable, complemented by the recurring taste of lemon-infused plum, all encapsulated by a well-executed edge of acidity. The wine indeed feels youthful, characterized by taut, vivid, and bright features. A characteristic feature of the house, the fine, bright mousse paves the way to a depth of slightly smoky umami. The smoky aftertaste blending with fruity plum elements reveals the Pinot Meunier in all its glory. The base wine, which consists of 100 percent Pinot Meunier, was fermented in a 5,000-liter foudre. Malolactic fermentation was intentionally overlooked. The wine spent nine years on the lees under natural cork and was disgorged in the first quarter of 2023, with a dosage of 5g/l. A limited edition, with only 920 bottles made available. 93

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