Champagne Nathalie Falmet – A Profile

La Côte des Bar, the Bar-sur-Seine and Bar-sur-Aube combined, sometimes called the ‘Aube’, has renewed importance in Champagne. No serious champagne lover can ignore it with the excuse it’s a bit far from Reims and Epernay. It is. But nowadays half of all Champagne’s Pinot Noir is grown here. But the Côte des Bar is more than Pinot central for the big houses when they come buying grapes. For a start, one of Champagne’s most innovative glories, Champagne Drappier, is here.  So too, the important coop network Union Auboise, which helps fill the bottles of Champagne Jacquart and as well, its flagship brand Champagne Devaux.  But more eyecatching recently, are a series of single estate small domaine champagnes which have become better known although established, or are rising stars. Champagne Nathalie Falmet is one of the latter. She grew up here, went away to study and now she’s back.  Although her first wines appeared only in 2009, she won rapid exports, including to the USA, and is winning a place in the domaine champagne niche. Her estate is a member of the Origines Champagnes group of RMs formed in 2013 who collaborate and first showed their wines together in April 2014 at the Chateau de Pierry.

Mme Falmet has form.  After a Paris XI degree in chemistry she qualified as an oenologue (wine scientist) in 1993 and still runs her Bar-sur-Aube consulting laboratory she founded in 1994 before she took over the family estate. Drappier is a client. The estate is tiny (3.2ha, making some 30,000 bottles per annum), mostly in the far flung eastern Côte des Bar hamlet of Rouvres-les-Vignes, with .4ha of it a little distance away the other side of Bar-sur-Aube in Arsonval. Charles de Gaulle is buried just down the road in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. The prized vineyard of the estate is a single parcel of senior Pinot Noir and Meunier vines on sharply south-facing Le Val Cornet outside the village, which makes a cuvée of the same name. In all, 2.1ha are planted to Pinot Noir, .5ha is Chardonnay and .6ha Meunier. The viticulture is lutte raisonée, as near to organic as possible, on clay and Kimmeridgian limestone soils.  Along with cultivation to encourage soil life, drainage and control weeds, pruning is quite severe to limit yield, especially on lieu-dit Le Val Cornet where it is less than 6,000kg/ha, half Champagne’s norm.

A 2009-built unprepossessing shed houses the winery where a Pera pneumatic press keeps stainless steel tanks company, which in turn look down on a burgeoning stock of oak barriques and an arriviste of an earthenware amphora bought last summer in Florence, Tuscany. The vin clair from this tasted lemony, saline-mineral but pretty. Malolactic proceeds on all the wines. But the style combines ripeness with a very fresh intensity and great length. Production is very thought out.  A perpetual solera-type reserve begun in 2009 provides the reserve wines, giving a growing complexity of options to a small producer who does not have the volume to store a high proportion of reserves each harvest.  The solera is replenished with about 20% of the assembled Brut NV (currently about 80PN 20CH) each year after 20% has been decanted for reserve wines. The Brut NV is thus based on a single year plus 20% solera reserves, but the Brut Nature NV and other wines are all from one year. The blends spend about two years or slightly more on lees before disgorgement. The single harvest wines cannot have vintage dated labels as they see less than the mandatory three years on lees for vintage champagne. About 20% of production is in oak.  The modest level of reserves or none, along with the relatively short time on lees, create a crystalline Pinot fruit style along with subtle oak that seems to add clarity to the texture rather than suppress fruit. Flavours are focused and intense, stemming from the low yields.

Not many champagne producers prune their vines and look down a microscope the same day to analyse a tank of wine. Nathalie Falmet’s enigmatic grin suggests she loves the feel of farming as much as the dispassionate empiricism of wine science. They say people make wines like themselves and it’s not hard to find journalistic comment about Mme Falmet’s ‘elegant’ and ‘feminine’ wines. Believe me, when I met her I saw resolve, ambition and a burning curiosity, which says far more. Expect this estate to impress in the future at the cutting edge of champagne styles.

The Wines

Brut NV Tasted Rouvres-les-Vignes 02/15.  50PN 30CH+ 20% reserves.  Base 2011. 7g/L Almost exotic fruit but very taut on the palate, well-textured mousse and surprisingly long.
Brut Nature NV 100PN, single year. Base 2011.  The first time I tasted this (Pierry 04/14) there was an odd fruit pastel note but since then it was delicious at Rouvres-les-Vignes 02/15 and since. It has about 6 months extra ageing on lees – 30 months. A pink tinge, almost rosé perhaps for some, but a great and linear impression of iced raspberry. Fresh, assertive and mouth-watering. Very good.
Le Val Cornet Single parcel of that name. Roughly 80PN 20PM depending on the year, 50% inox, 50% wood.  Always vintage but not on label.  In 04/14, Pierry, this was 2009, d/g 2012 and 5g/L. Nutty and gentle texture. In Rouvres-les-Vignes 02/15 this was 2010, goldy and complex, with density and length and a wood-complexed fruit and minerality that is very effective. Again, very long.
Parcelle ZH302 A new cuvée, single parcel from within the Val Cornet lieu-dit,  just launched in 2015. Named after the cadastral reference block.  Base 2010.  100%PM.  0g/L.  Part barrel-fermented and aged. Extremely concentrated, nutty, vanilla and very evident oak but with sublime light texture and lingering complexity.
Rosé de Saignée Tentation Rosée 50/50 PN/PM 7g/L  Base 2010. A 48 hour maceration.  A Bitter almond note and dry.  Great finesse and gentle texture for a saignée.  Beautiful cool fruit aromas; wild strawberries and spicy. Nathalie suggested ‘peony’ . Bursting with fruit, yet a delightful bitter cherry hint. Slimline and linear in proportion.
Champagne Nathalie Falmet
Chemin de Courcelles
10200 Rouvres-les-Vignes

This entry was posted in Champagne Profiles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed. © 2009-2016 All Rights Reserved
Website management by Dean Marshall Consultancy Ltd