CHAMPAGNE BENOÎT DÉHU | Meunier Excellence in a Walnutshell

At the very far end of the Vallée de la Marne, in a small village named Fossoy which is situated closer to Paris than to Reims, Benoît Déhu leads his family domain, Champagne Déhu Père & Fils. With seven generations of wine growers behind them, the family decided to start their own domain in the 1980s and, like most wine growers in the region, began by selling their grapes to the cooperative.

Having gained a couple of years of experience as a wine salesman for Champagne Bollinger, Benoît decided to join the family domain in 2004. For several years he worked with his father, diving into the specifities of the Meunier grape – the main grape variety in the Vallée de la Marne – and getting to know its various expressions in different vineyard sites. Generally known for its bold, fruity character and often said to lack elegance and longevity, Meunier became Benoît’s mission.

He discovered expressions of the grape that were more precise, more concentrated, and much more expressive. Rue des Noyers, a plot of 1,68 ha, especially sparked his interest for further examination and trials.

“I had the deep desire of knowing the terroir I work with and wanted to know all about this parcel’s character and potential,” he says, summing up his vision of creating a single grape champagne from Meunier that could keep up with all the Grands Vins from Burgundy that he admires.

Furthermore, interested in more natural and sustainable wine-growing methods, Benoît set out to convert this first parcel of the domain to organic viticulture. His vision was to show the diversity of a single vineyard and to make wines that would prove the precision and worthiness of Meunier in the Vallée de la Marne – and the Rue des Noyers parcel was the perfect plot to do so. “The benefit of being a wine grower compared to a big champagne house is that we have the chance to really focus our attention on a few plots, or even just one,” he adds, continuing the story of his Meunier adventure.

With three different rootstocks being planted – rootstocks 41b, 161 and SO4 – his organic plot on clay, limestone and marl was just the right playground for further research. The vision for the first cuvée was perfectly clear in Benoît’s mind: he wanted to create a wine from one plot, with only one grape variety, and without using malolactic fermentation but extended lees aging for structure. Benoît chased for nothing less than the most precise expression of terroir his plot would allow him to create.



Read the full story in CUVÉE Magazine No. 3 | Spéciale Champagne.

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Written by

Stefanie is the founder and chief editor of CUVÉE Magazine. Epicurean at heart and wine professional in life, she writes about all things wine and food that pamper her palate. Living in Champagne and holding the Champagne Master Level Certificate as well as WSET certificates, she can't stop discovering new bottles and the stories behind the labels.

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