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The grapes, picked by hand, are placed in our bladder press. We take time to press gently, so as to extract the purest juice possible. Each cru is vinified separately. For fermenting and maturing, we strive to choose the ideal correspondence between the terroir and the vessel used: temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, traditional vats, wooden vats or casks.
The alcoholic fermentation begins spontaneously thanks to the natural yeast present on the bloom of the grapes. The wines are matured on their lees throughout the winter: malolactic fermentation, a light bâtonnage (stirring) depending on the cuvée and the year.
In the spring, after many tastings, we decide on the blending (or we decide not to blend for the cuvées coming from a single vineyard like 'Terre de Vertus' or 'Vieille Vigne de Cramant'). The wines are bottled in May and taken down into the coolness of our cellars where the second fermentation can take place peacefully.
Ageing: our bottles wait patiently and mature for several years in our cellars dug out of the chalk (the temperature there is practically constant throughout the year).
When the wines are ready, they are riddled. Next, we disgorge each bottle by hand three to six months before putting it on the market. The dosage which is then chosen depends on the cuvée. For us, it must be discreet, as our priority is always the same: to allow the terroir to express itself.
For details of the particularities of each cuvée, please refer to the corresponding page, particularly for the 'Vertus Rouge'.
Details about the natural yeast
At Larmandier-Bernier, for each harvest, each vat, traditional or wooden, each cask has its own existence, with its own yeast. Every year, the cards are reshuffled as the yeast is different and depends on the cru, on the topography, but also on the year's weather.
To achieve this, our behaviour in the vineyard must leave room for life, so that the yeast is perfectly suited to the vintage and the terroir. At Larmandier-Bernier, the natural yeast is not a selection of estate yeast used again each year; nor is it the first vat to begin its fermentation which is spread around to all the other vats.
Why do we use the natural yeast of our terroir? Is it indispensable in order to make good wine? No. Is it indispensable in order to make great wine? Yes, if you believe that the notion of 'great wine' is necessarily tied to that of 'great terroir', and that the yeast is an essential element of the terroir...
A cold winter was followed by significant spring frosts. The early summer was warm, but cool weather and rain persisted throughout the flowering period. Summer ended with warm temperatures, lending some hot-year characteristics to the year's wines even if acidity remained high at 8.5 g/l. Rot played a role in some vineyards. A small harvest (9,402 kg/ha) was picked from September 12th onwards. The 1997 vintage was rather overlooked, following the successful 1995 and 1996 vintages, and many did not produce a vintage even though the year was not particularly weak. Despite the warmth of the year the best wines have sufficient acidic backbone, but many lack intensity and harmony. Most Champagnes are quite developed already, showing no sign of further potential. Its highlights included Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rosé, Philipponnat Clos des Goisses, Louis Roederer Cristal and Salon Le Mesnil.