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News

Our goal is to enable each vine to thrive in the environment where it grows. 

• Plowing is increasingly done by horse rather than by machine, in order to avoid compacting the soil. This leaves the soil better aerated, with an optimal exchange between water and wildlife. 

• Synthetic products such as herbicides are banned, allowing the natural flora and fauna to aid the plant in developing a sap that reflects all the identity of its environment. 

• Exploitation of natural resources: The soil provides shelter for hundreds of herb varieties, which function as an indicator of the soil's health. Observing the growth of these natural herbs helps us to understand the health of our soils. 

• Trust in people: Replacing man by machine saves time, but it can also have a negative impact on the nature that sustains us. Machinery is used only when it benefits the plant, the soil and the grapes. The men and women of our estate are essential in providing optimal care for the plant and its fruit. 

• Grapes: The grapes are harvested by hand at the peak of maturity and brought to our presses as quickly as possible, in order to preserve their quality and to obtain the finest juice. Apart from the addition of a small quantity of sulfur at harvest, the grapes are not treated with any products, out of respect for their natural qualities.

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History

Sometimes it is good to turn from the glamour of big champagne houses to the more earth-bound approach of a pragmatic peasant. Chartogne-Taillet in Merfy, which is located in the northern part of Montagne de Reims, is a paradigm of an enthusiastic and innovative farmer-producer. Working side by side with his father Philippe and mother Elisabeth, Alexandre Chartogne acquired his knowledge from the legendary Avize-based Anselme Selosse, and is open to new experiments and quality improvements. Talking with Alexandre, who is dedicated to cultivation and production, takes one deep into the mysteries of champagne production. Most of the vineyards of Montagne de Reims can these days be found south of the city of Reims.

The northern vineyards have given way to the expanding city, and, in addition to the damage done by Phylloxera, war has also complicated cultivation in the area. The hills of Montagne de Reims have a strategic view straight to the city of Reims, and this has turned them into battle fields more than once; the planted area in Merfy has decreased from 105 hectares to 45 as a result. Despite its small size and rather unknown status, the south facing plots of Merfy are able to produce exceedingly interesting wines. Alexandre Chartogne characterises their style as stronger and richer in nuances than those of the wines of southern Montagne, but not quite as fruity. Organic cultivation and the concentrated yield of old vines are key elements to the rich and strong style of Chartogne-Taillet. Their whole repertoire, from the non-vintage standard Sainte-Anne champagne to the prestige cuvée Fiacre, is first-rate, as is their rosé champagne.

The most impressive experiences, I have to say, have been derived from the new Les Barres single-vineyard champagne. Chartogne-Taillet owns two plots of rare and ungrafted Pinot Meunier vines, covering only 0.7 hectares. When Phylloxera raged in the area during the 19th century and destroyed almost all the vineyards in Champagne, these vines, which grow from the sandy soil, survived the extinction. Alexandre Chartogne tends to these laborious, en foule-planted vines by hand, and is even experimenting by planting 0.5 hectares in a similar fashion, in the hope that the new vines will also be resistant to the pernicious Phylloxera. The 2009 Les Barres was the first interesting single-vineyard champagne from Chartogne-Taillet. Upcoming champagnes are the 100 per cent Pinot Noir Les Orizeaux and the Pinot Meunier Les Allièes. 

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Vineyards

Merfy's vineyards are located in the Montagne de Reims, 8 kilometers (5 miles) away from Reims on the southern tip of the Massif de Saint-Thierry, an area that has enjoyed a long winegrowing tradition. These south- and southeast-facing hillsides have been planted with vines since the arrival of the Romans, and were further developed in the 7th century by monks from the Abbey of Saint-Thierry. As early as the 9th century, the vineyards surrounding this abbey represented the highest concentration of vineyard land in Champagne. The village of Merfy has long been known for the quality of its wines: Merfy's wines were served at the tables of kings, and were exported as early as the 12th century. Merfy continues to produce exceptional Champagnes, representative of its distinctive soils and vineyards. Today at Chartogne-Taillet, all of our champagnes are grown entirely in the vineyards of Merfy.

THE ESTATE At a glance: • 11 hectares (27 acres) of vineyards • 2 Champagne presses (up to 4000 kgs) • 13 individual vineyard parcels (including three parcels of ungrafted vines) • 4 grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier and Arbanne • A vat room with oak barrels, stainless-steel tanks, amphorae and cement "eggs" by Nomblot • Between 6 and 10 cuvees, depending on the individual harvest • Winemaker Alexandre Chartogne, assisted by Jean Nicolas, Cyril (horse plower), Laurence, Cédric and Jean-Luc (professionals in the vineyard and cellar), Muriel (office assistant) and Pierre (in charge of pressing)

 Annual Production (bottles): 80 000. Cellarmaster: Alexandre Chartogne You can visit Chartogne-Taillet daily between 8am and 5pm by pre-reservation. The visit and tasting are free, and champagnes can be purchased according to availability.

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Winemaking

The grapes are pressed in one of two pneumatic presses, each of which functions differently. The first exposes the wines to air, while the second offers more protection against oxygen. The pressing is long and gentle, in order to obtain the finest and most delicate juice from the grapes. Fermentation: The fermentation is the first step after pressing, and is performed with yeasts native to the wine itself, preserving all of the wine's initial characteristics. The malolactic fermentation is also allowed to occur naturally, without intervention on the part of the winemaker. Vat Room: Whether in stainless-steel tanks, oak barrels or cement vats, each wine is allowed to thrive in the vessel that it is best suited to. This choice is determined by our experiences of previous years, as well as by the potential of each of our vineyard parcels. Preparation: The wines spend between 8 and 18 months of aging in our vat room, depending upon the evolution of each individual wine. After this, they are bottled without filtration. Cold-stabilization occurs naturally, taking advantage of the cold winter weather.

Chartogne-Taillet's Champagnes are vinified and aged in the cellars under the family's house in Merfy, located in the center of the village. All of the winemaking processes, from pressing to bottling to disgorgement, are done on our premises, ensuring the quality of each cuvée. At the heart of our work is the search for the individual identity of our soils, allowing our wines to reveal an authentic and representative character unique to our village. Each wine is monitored and evaluated according to its character and capacity for aging. It is then disgorged with minimal intervention, and dosed at a level that varies from one wine to the next, determined by tasting. This preserves the optimum quality and individual expression of each Champagne. 

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Inside information

- In the old days before the world wars and phylloxera these northern villages were widely planted and highly esteemed. But as this was such a strategic point, one being able to look down to the city, this has been war zone many times during the history. Therefore the amount of vineyards has diminished from 105 to 45 hectares, says 27-year-old Alexandre Chartogne, the new generation of Chartognes.

            From the first seconds of the visit I can see Alexandre Chartogne is a highly passionate vinegrower. He is working closely with his father Philippe and mother Elisabeth but already now one can see the enthusiasm and innovative spirits in him. He has worked for a while at Jacques Selosse in Avize, whose natural methods, biodynamic thinking and usage of barrels have clearly made an impact on Alexandre, too. And he has some fantastic experiments and projects going on.   

            - Here, like in every village in Champagne, there are both good and bad plots of land. To generalize, our wines are not as fruity as the wines from the southern part of the Montagne. However, ours are more powerful and complex due to the southern exposure and deep soils. 

 

But what is extraordinary, are the non-grafted vines that still manage to survive in a few vineyards around here. The phylloxera vine louse spread around Europe in the late 19th century killing virtually every vine. The phylloxera is a bug that eats on the roots of the vine damaging them permanently and eventually killing the plant. The only founded cure was to graft all vines on American rootstocks that are naturally resistant to it. There are several regions as well as individual plots of land in the world that have resisted the louse. In Champagne Bollinger’s two vineyards that produce the prestigious Vieilles Vignes Françaises have been the only commonly known ones.  

            - We have one vineyard of 0,4 hectare in size growing 50-60 year-old non-grafted vines. Also, in the middle of a grafted plot, we have some 0,3 ha more non-grafted vines. It is the sandy and calcareous sandy soils here that are not phylloxera friendly. 

            Alexandre Chartogne is so sure of his soils resist to phylloxera that he even aims to plant some more non-grafted vines.

            - I am very sure - 95 per cent sure – that we will get no trouble from phylloxera. I have just uprooted a vineyard and now I need to let it rest for a couple of years before I can replant it. I will plant 0,5 hectares with non-grafted vines. I will use partly the regular vinestock but partly I will play with provigneage - the layering method of cultivation. 

            Layering is practiced at Bollinger Vieilles Vignes, too. This ancient method consists of very dense planting – some 30.000 plants per hectare as opposed to 9.000 in regular vineyards. The vineyard is consistently rejuvenated by letting new vines be born from the canes of older vines. This method demands a lot of skill and effort. At Bollinger for instance there are 4 men solely responsible for the picturesque vineyards totaling 0,52 hectares.

            - 0,5 hectares is the maximum I will plant now, as I don’t have the resources of Bollinger. It is just me treating the vineyard. But it is fascinating to see how these wines will be. The non-grafted vines are famous for producing wines with less alcohol for instance.

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10 different wines with 37 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Richard Juhlin , Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  8 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Already in the 1600s, Fiacre Taillet was a wine-grower in the small village of Merfy in the Massif de Saint-Thierry planted in mostly sandy soils, while Chartogne-Taillet was formed in 1920. Today, Chartogne-Taillet is still a family business. Alexandre Chartogne run a quality-controlled property with access to very old grapevines—even a little pre-phylloxera rootstock. Alexandre was educated in Burgundy and has a strong faith in the recipe: low yield equals high quality. He also worked with Anselme Selosse and returned to the family estate in 2006. He took full control the following year, and his influence has elevated the domaine to the top ranks of grower-producers in the region.The grapes come from 11,5 hectares in Merfy, Chenay, and Saint Thierry. Fiacre is a brilliantly refreshing, elastic, potent wine with a deliciously concentrated young fruit. Truly genuine terroir character is, of course, missing but this deficiency is well compensated for by its tart, rich, fruity cannonade. The Clos des Barres is a beautiful and super intense pure Pinot Meunier. Close to 4 stars today.

11d 16h ago

 Richard Juhlin , Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  3 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  65 wines 

Henriot Vinothèque 1985 95 points/ It is a never-ending piece of theatre to witness the transformation that certain champagnes go through when they are allowed to remain as a chrysalis for a few extra years in the cellars of the producers, before arriving on the dining-table of the consumer. This 85 is a highly normal if very good champagne in its usual garb. Now, as a late release and like a great sportsman who has been pumped up at a training camp, it is so beautiful that it takes one's breath away. The aroma is a blend of the toasted, smoky 76 and the elegant 79. In the middle of the toastiness there is a Charles Heidsieck-like orange complexity to luxuriate in. The aftertaste is not especially long and the concentration could have been greater, but one's enjoyment is nearly maximal on condition that one may take great gulps! More serious and more meanly ascetic in a slowly developing Jeroboam. Last time a lot of similarities with the mushrom notes of Bollinger RD.

2y 1m ago

 Sebastian Korejeff, Wine Dealer (France)  tasted  3 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  29 wines 

In addition to showing over 100 sparkling wines from around the world, we also popped every bottle of champagne! It was an embarrassment of riches. Blanc de Blancs for the acid freaks. Barrique-fermented wines for the luxury set. Meunier for the geeks. Vintage wines for the collectors. Rosés for the guzzlers and the lovers.

2y 9m ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  12 wines 

Vintage 1949-tasting - Best wine was superb Mouton-Rothschild - 100 points

3y 18d ago

 Rajiv Singhal / Fine Wine Magazine India, Wine Writer (India)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Monteverro Tinata vertical - all the vintages. This Cotes du Rhone blend pays hommage to owner Georg Weber's mother, Tina. Red fruit aromas, such as cherry, raspberry, and cranberry, harmoniously mingle with subtle hints of florals, herbs, and spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, and coriander, and geranium, lavender, and rose. The entrance is fresh, but finishes sweet with nuances of grenadine and a touch of cassis. Fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels, Monteverro Tinata is aged in 40% new French oak barrels and 60% egg-shaped concrete tanks for 16 months.”

4y 4m ago

 Aldo Sohm / Best Sommelier in the World 2008, Pro (Austria)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  6 wines 

“Here are some of the best wines I have tasted lately.”

4y 4m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  18 wines 

“What could be more perfect wine than Dom Pérignon 1996 P1 to celebrate successful marriage proposal?...and then Mouton Rothschild 1887 when you celebrate it again, this time few days later with friends.”

5y 2m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  11 wines 

“Sibelius and Champagne - perfect couple:)”

5y 7m ago

 Georg Linde, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  13 wines 

“Château Haut-Brion 1989 /100 points
"Initially lighter than the La Mission but appreciated considerably and surpassed it. Nose of dried plum, raisins, tobacco, dark chocolate. On the palate still some cassis, dark fruit, malt, creamy tannins, long. Spectacular."”

5y 7m ago

 Tuula Hällström, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Great evening, with colleagues and my dear Pekka, after the last performance of Menottis operas!”

5y 8m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Some really rare wines with friends like Mouton 1862 and Smith-Haut-Lafitte 1893 - what a night:)”

5y 8m ago

 Georg Linde, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Chartogne-Taillet . In a tasting of  11 wines 

“Some very good Krug Vintages and 1995,Krug Clos d'Ambonnay,,"A big champagne. Nose of brioche, yeast. On the palate tightly wound fruit, crystalline minerality, lots of energy. Interesting."”

5y 9m ago

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