Emmanuel Brochet

Emmanuel Brochet

VigneronEmmanuel Brochet
LocationVillers-Aux-Nœuds (Marne)
Size of Domaine2.5 ha
TerroirContinental climate with Oceanic influence. Silty clay-limestone soil over chalk bedrock. Gentle slope. 90-150m altitude.
ViticultureCertified organic (Ecocert)
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Despite its premier cru status (90% on the échelle des crus), it’s likely that Villers-Aux-Noeuds, just to the south-west of Reims, would be consigned to obscurity if it weren’t for Emmanuel Brochet. There are a mere 25ha in the village, and population expansion has brought the city even closer—the view from Emmanuel’s 2.5ha vineyard of Le Mont Benoit offers not only the verdant hillsides and yellow fieldscapes typical of the Champenois countryside, but also electricity pylons and the extending urban sprawl from Reims just a kilometre away.

Emmanuel began working a portion of his family’s holdings in 1997, bottling his first wine in 2002. He has a single parcel of vines on a gentle southeast facing slope in the lieu-dit of Le Mont Benoit, which lies on Cretaceous-era chalk under about 25cm of chalky-clay topsoil. The parcel is planted with all three major varieties and the oldest vines date from 1962, although about half the parcel was replanted in 1986, following the devastating frosts of the year before.

“The way I came to organic farming was not through any sort of militant philosophy, but through the pleasure of wine. If your environment gives you pleasure, your work will be better. It’s a question of harmony”

In 2008 Emmanuel began the process of organic conversion. “The way I came to organic farming was not through any sort of militant philosophy, but through the pleasure of wine,” he says. “If you take pleasure in what you do, and if your environment gives you pleasure, your work will be better. It’s a question of harmony.” He believes that it has improved the overall quality of his wines. "I find more minerality in them", he says, "and a richer expression. The wines are more complex, with more aroma, and extra length on the palate."

Yields are restricted but Emmanuel believes that "if too low it creates an unbalanced wine, one that lacks freshness." The grapes are always picked at over ten degrees of natural potential alcohol, and the musts are never chaptalized, as he doesn’t like the way it changes the aromas of the wine. In 2006 he acquired a 2000-kilogram vertical press, half the size of a standard traditional press, which allows him to separate as many different lots as possible according to variety, vine age and location within the vineyard. Only a portion of the cuvée is kept, with the taille either being sold to the négoce or used to make ratafia, and special attention is paid to the coeur de cuvée (heart of the first pressing), which Emmanuel says produces a more harmonious wine.

But it’s not all work here. There’s a nice balance to Emmanuel’s life (as well as his champagnes), he’s a self-taught artist and looking at the walls of his study many of his friends are artists and creative types too; he also makes rocking chairs out of old barrels and his idea of a day off is to race old bangers.

Emmanuel Brochet Wines

Emmanuel Brochet

37% Pinot Noir, 33% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay (12% alc.)

This comes from 39yo vines on a southeast facing hillside in Villers-aux-Noeuds. It is made from a base of 80% 2014/ 20% 2013, aged in new to 12yo barrels for eleven months, and was then given two and a half years sur lattes before disgorging with a dosage of 4g/l. The malolactic fermentations have been completed. It feels vivid and vibrant in its energy, and is intensely expressive of its terroir, not only in its briny, oyster-shell minerality but also in its rich body.

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