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)
View Emmanuel Brochet wines ↓

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 chalk under about 25cm of 'argilo-calcaire' 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 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

Villers-aux-Noeuds 1er Cru
37% Pinot Noir, 33% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay
37% Pinot Noir, 33% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay (12% alc.)
(12% alc.)

This comes from 40yo vines on a southeast facing hillside of the Mont Benoit in Villers-aux-Noeuds. It is made from a base of 80% 2020 and 20% 2019, aged in new to 12yo barrels for eleven months before resting 'sur lattes'. The malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine feels vivid and vibrant with a briny, oyster-like salivation and rich texture. Disgorged 02/23 - Dosage 2g/l.

Villers-aux-Noeuds 1er Cru
100% Pinot Meunier
100% Pinot Meunier (12% alc.)
(12% alc.)

This is made from a massal selection of pinot meunier planted in 1962 at a density of 6,000 vines per hectare. Situated at the top of the Mont Benoit, there’s just about 25cm of top soil before reaching a deep layer of chalk imparting the wines with verticality, nerve, and incredible minerality. Vinified in 350ltr barrels, the wines go through their malo naturally and are left undisturbed (no racking or bâtonnage) for a year before bottling and five years ageing in bottle. Another example that turns on its head the perception of pinot meunier as 'the lesser varietal' of champagne’s main trio. This is intensely chalky, built on a bright core of acids and mineral salts, with a multi-dimensional finish. Bravo! Disg. 12/19 - Non Dosé. VLQ.

Villers-aux-Noeuds 1er Cru
100% Chardonnay
100% Chardonnay (12% alc.)
(12% alc.)

As per Les Hauts Meuniers, this is a selection of old vines planted in 1962 at the top of the slope of the Mont Benoit. It was made exclusively from the coeur de cuvée (the heart of the first pressing which contains the highest quality juice), vinified and aged in 350ltr oak barrels for a year (malo completed), before resting 6 years on the lees in bottle. Emmanuel only achieved half of the usual yields in 2012 (due to successive bouts of frost and mildew) leading to incredible concentration. Tightly coiled, it slowly unfurls from the glass with waves of mirabelle, lemon and pêche de vigne, expressing Villers-aux-Noeuds’ chalky terroir with a classical savoury backbone. It’s racy and subtle, up there with the very best chardonnays of the Montagne de Reims. Disgorged 12/19 - Non Dosé. VLQ.

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