We’re delighted to share this offer from one of Champagne's fastest rising young stars, Adrien Dhondt. We tend to receive these wines in miniscule quantities, and they are typically delegated as travelling companions alongside our most allocated Champagne producers. In other words, wines destined for the tables of our savviest Champagne customers. And though small, a recently arrived parcel was an irresistible opportunity to materialize our first standalone offer of these singular wines.
Adrien Dhondt took over his family’s domaine in 2010 and quickly galvanized quality, largely through a fanatical approach to farming and insistence on low yields in a region still largely centered on winemaking ‘style.’ His approach is simple, even anachronistic, one he refers to as ‘peasant farming.’ Harvesting is late in the interest of producing dimensional base wines, part of a conscious deemphasizing of a view of Champagne that rests on partially ripe fruit as a necessary structural foundation for wines that will ‘become’ complete through techniques of production. Anselme Selosse is a deep influence, not in the sense that Dhondt is attempting to ape his style, but through the aspirational model of Anselme's personality, his pioneering ‘go your own way’ approach within a region more grounded in tradition than most.
The domaine is comprised of holding in the Sézanne, Vallée de la Marne and especially the Côte des Blancs. Dhondt’s flagship cuvee, ‘Dans un Premier Temps,’ is comprised of fruit from all three, to the tune of roughly 50% Chardonnay and the remainder Noir and Meunier, from Avenay and Cuis respectively. In the past this cuvée was dosed at 6g/l though that figure has been halved today in pursuit of greater tension and minerality, a smart choice that lends more lime-y tension and a slimmer silhouette than previous releases.
The blend here is two-thirds 2017 with the remainder coming from the family’s solera dating back to 1986. The nose is doughy and savory, more fresh dough than brioche, leavened with a pinch of citrus zest. There are fleeting suggestions of spring flowers and, more assertively, salt and smoke, with perhaps a bit of verbena peeking through. There is a wonderful sense of tension on the palate, and both Daniel and I remarked on how evenly this energy is distributed through the wine, remarkable for a wine at this price point. No spiky, awkward acidity here. Daniel notes a stylistic resemblance to Prévost, particularly in the slightly oxidative tug of the fruit that manages to remain memorably vivid, fresh and upright.