An intriguing wine made from ungrafted vines in Ecueil. This gorgeous, boisterous Champagne emerges with waves of sweet Pinot fruit layered into elements of chalky minerality, flowers and baking spices. The wine continues to emerge nicely in the glass, but it remains somewhat taut and in need of further time on the cork. An intense, dry finish typical of the extra brut style rounds out this engaging, multi-dimensional Champagne. This is a lovely effort. Maillard fermented the Francs de Pied in oak, with no malolactic fermentation. Antonio Galloni, *the 2005 Franc de Pied
The brilliant wines of Nicolas Maillart will need no introduction to the Champagne cognescenti, but the rarity and quality of this particular cuvée merits special consideration. It is one of only two wines produced in Champagne entirely from ungrafted vines (‘franc de pied’), the other being Bollinger’s extraordinary ‘V.V. Françaises.’ Élévage in older oak barrels has given remarkable textural appeal to this Blanc de Noirs, though the uprightness and vitality that are family traits of these wines contributes plenty of vibrancy. The combination of hedonistic appeal and incipient complexity are absolutely remarkable at this price point. Savvy drinkers will be happy to have a few around in the months to come. - Jason
It is our pleasure to present the Champagnes of Nicolas Maillart, starting with this special own-rooted Blanc de Noirs. Nicolas is the 9th generation to helm the domaine which owns vines concentrated in Éceuil (Savart is the familiar address here) and Bouzy in the Montagne de Reims. Nicolas ferments all of his wines with native yeasts in oak barrels (some of which come used from D’Auvenay, astoundingly) and eschews malo. There is occasionally batonnage and there is no filtration or cold-stabilization. His holdings contain a smattering of Chardonnay but are principally in Pinot Noir, as with this unusual example.
The sandy soil in the vineyard of Les Coupés in Éceuil is inhospitable to the ubiquitous phylloxera pest which has caused the overwhelming majority of French wines to be grafted onto American rootstocks. In 1973 this vineyard was planted from a selection of pre-phylloxera vines still lingering there. The 2015 has rich Blanc de Noirs fruit along with a touch of baking spice and a surprisingly chalky palate. There is beautiful weight and then surprising salinity and tangy minerality towards the finish. This is a delightfully revivifying curiosity indeed, and the only availability anywhere.