Léclapart's 3 ha vineyard in the Premier Cru village of Trépail is scattered among 22 parcels. The estate's biodynamic approach has been certified by Ecocert and Demeter from the 2000 vintage onward. David Léclapart believes that biological winegrowing is complicated for Champagne: "The weather is difficult, especially in terms of mildew. There's a constant risk of losing the grapes." He is convinced however that the quality achieved in the vineyards has a radical impact on the quality in the bottle.
Léclapart uses no reserve wines, instead producing each champagne from a specific vintage that appears on the label. Chaptalization was only performed in 2001 and 2007, and the initial fermentation uses only wild yeast. Amateur and half of Artiste are aged in enameled steel tanks, while the rest are matured in oak casks. To stabilize the wines and avoid the use of sulfur, all cuvées undergo malolactic fermentation. The wines remain "sur lie" until shortly before the next vintage's harvest and are filled without fining, filtration or cold stabilization. All champagnes are zero dosage.
Leclapart's wines are notable both for their extremely high quality, yet also an uncompromisingly distinctive nature. They are remarkably pure and nuanced, and express the essence of Trépail. The wines are released relatively young, as Léclapart lacks warehouse space. Ideally the champagnes will be allowed to mature for several years in the cellar before being enjoyed. Decanting is recommended should the champagnes be opened young, as they can be otherwise inaccessible in their youth.
Peter Liem: Beginning with the 2010 vintage, however, Léclapart has discontinued making rosé, using his pinot noir to make a blanc de noirs called L’Astre. “In 2010,” he explains,” there was a great deal of rot, and the grapes turned very quickly. I couldn’t do a maceration, because of the risk of mold and unpleasant tastes, so I pressed all of the pinot noir instead. It turned out great, so I decided to do it again in 2011 and 2013. Maybe I’ll do an Alchemiste again, in a really good year, but I don’t know yet.” The inaugural release of L’Astre combines his two old-vine parcels of pinot noir with two parcels of younger vines, planted in 1997 and 2001, and the wine was vinified entirely in secondhand barriques. This was repeated in 2011, but in 2012 Léclapart’s harvest was so tiny that he blended all of the estate’s grapes together to make a single cuvée. In 2013, he used his pinot noir to make both L’Astre and a Coteaux Champenois rouge, and he’ll likely continue to do this in top vintages.