CHAMPAGNE LECLERC-BRIANT | Once There Was an Ocean

Founded by Lucien Leclerc in Cumières in 1872, Bertrand Leclerc, a sibling of Lucien, transforms the domain into a negociant house in 1955, giving it the name Leclerc-Briant. He relocates the domain to Épernay where it still is located today, at the foot of the vineyards of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay.

Taken over in 2012 by American investors passionate about French culinary art, the champagne house has seen much change. Frédéric Zeimett runs Champagne Leclerc-Briant today, along with enologist and winemaker Hervé Jestin, passionate pioneer for biodynamic viticulture and already featured in CUVÉE Magazine No. 1 | Champagne. The two, in accordance with the new owners, have brought a modern and very different spirit to the old champagne house.

Certified for biodynamic viticulture, the new owners are recreating the original spirit of the house piece by piece. Besides their fantastic range of champagnes, their newly opened boutique on the avenue de Champagne in Épernay, and many other huge projects on the side, Champagne Leclerc-Briant has this year launched their cuvée Abyss, a champagne aged at the bottom of the sea.

The concept is easily described: 500 bottles of champagne stored in a metal cage have been placed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. In collaboration with the enterprise Amphoris, a deep sea specialist who holds the permission for 1 ha of deep sea ground at the southern tip of Île d’Ouessant in Brittany, France, Champagne Leclerc-Briant brought their classic brut champagne – made from the vintage 2012, aged for two years sur lattes in their caves, disgorged, and left without dosage – to rest at the bottom of the ocean for a whole year.

Ebbs and tides have played with the glass. Mussels, seaweed, and other microorganisms have settled on the bottles, and energies have clashed, united, and transformed.

“In comparison to our champagne cellars, the difference is that there’s a lot more life and energy at the bottom of the sea. Our champagne already captures the full energy of our biodynamic production in the bottle, and we sent it down into the water to let the energies of our champagne bottles resonate with the energies of the moving water,” Hervé Jestin explains.

“A couple of million years ago, the region of Champagne was covered in water and everything we know as a wine region today was part of the ocean,” he goes on. “What our soils consist of are the geological leftovers of the marine sediment, and what was highly interesting to us was to let this origin of our wines, and its memory of place, resonate with the elements it was made of.”

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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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