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Aurélien Suenen

Aurélien Suenen

VigneronAurélien Suenen
LocationCramant (Marne)
Size of Domaine3.2 ha
TerroirContinental climate with Oceanic influence. Clay-limestone soil on chalk bedrock. Various aspects, gentles slopes. 100-200m altitude.
ViticulturePracticing organic
View Aurélien Suenen wines ↓

Although Aurélien Suenen is seen as one of the most promising young talents in Champagne, his first love was basketball. He used to be player as well as coach at semi-pro level and returned to the family’s domaine when his father fell ill in 2008. Dynamic and committed, he progressively learnt the ropes inspired by his illustrious neighbours Pascal Agrapart (who introduced us) and Anselme Selosse, regularly exchanging with them and embracing a similar philosophy.

The previous generations of Suenen acquired vines through the whole region (Marne) but, based in Cramant, Aurélien decided to focus on the Côte des Blancs and his clutch of parcels (3ha) scattered across the grand cru villages of Chouilly, Oiry and Cramant. The travel distances prevented him from working the northern plots (Vallée de la Marne, Montagne de Reims) as diligently as he wanted so he sold them, with the exception of 0.2ha of ungrafted 65yo pinot meunier, a stunning terroir in the Vallée de la Vesle (Massif de Saint-Thierry).

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Aurélien made his first wines in 2009 blending the different grapes and parcels, mostly in non-vintage bottlings, as per the family tradition. Moving towards a terroir-specific approach he produced the cuvées Oiry and C+C (Cramant + Chouilly), based at first on the 2013 harvest, and 2018/19 saw the official release of four single-vineyard millésimés: Cramant - Les Robarts 2012, Chouilly - Montaigu 2013, Oiry - La Cocluette 2013 and Montigny-sur-Vesle - La Grande Vigne 2013. He works his vines tirelessly, assisted by one employee who’s been with the family for over 20 years. Willing to learn as much as possible about his different vineyards, he hired the services of Claude and Lydia Bourguignon (microbiologists and soil experts) to study and understand the specificities of his soils, so that he could work them accordingly, increase organic matter and help the rhizomes grow deep.

His thirst of knowledge extends to the cellar where he regularly experiments and takes risks. Sulphur is used at press only and malolactic may naturally occur, wild yeast fermentation and long ageing are done in a mixed of vessels (old pièces bourguignonnes, Stockinger barrels, oak foudres, cement eggs and enamel tanks), and extended ageing is allowed after bottling. He reduced the liqueur d’expédition from brut to extra-brut to allow the specificity of each parcel to shine through. And since dosage increases a champagne’s ageing potential, he adapts its level depending on release dates to market, with the second batch of the same cuvée slightly more ‘dosé’. The wines are textural and intensely mineral, they feel unforced with a real sense of purity and class. Their progress has been exponential and there is more to come, this is a very exciting time for Aurélien Suenen.

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Cement eggs, Stockinger barrels, pièces bourguignonnes

Aurélien Suenen Wines

Aurélien Suenen

OIRY (2015)
Grand Cru
100% Chardonnay (12% alc.)

This is the third release of Aurélien’s specific terroir blanc de blancs from vines averaging 42yo planted in very white chalky soil in the Grand Cru village of Oiry. He ploughs all his vines and adopts an organic, carefully considered approach. Vinified and aged in 65% cuve and 35% 3-5yo barrels (with malos completed) this comes from 2015, with two years sur lattes under cap, before disgorging with 2g/l dosage in November 2018. It has the purity and delicacy you would expect of fine blanc de blancs, just delicious expression of fruit (stewed Sicilian lemons) and terroir, and notable length. 2g/l dosage

Aurélien Suenen

C+C (2014)
Grand Cru
100% Chardonnay (12% alc.)

The second of Aurélien’s specific terroir champagnes comes from 36yo vines on north and north-west facing hillsides in Cramant and Chouilly where the soils are deeper, and you find silty clay overlying chalk. Aged for two and a half years sur lattes with malos completed, this is a tightly wound champagne, with a more pronounced structure and razorlike cut of acidity. Very attractive bitters on the finish. 3g/l dosage.

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