Vieille Vigne du Levant
Grand Cru Extra Brut
The old vines of the Levant face south-east and benefit from an exceptional terroir. They are between 56 and more than 80 years old. Their roots go down deep, and the diversity of the old vine stocks contributes to the complexity of the wine. As is the case for the estate’s entire vineyard, they are cultivated naturally so as to obtain perfect ripeness.
Since the creation of this cuvée in 1988, it had been necessary to explain the difference between “Cramant” and “crémant”. In order to avoid this confusion, the name has changed: Vieille Vigne de Cramant has become Vieille Vigne du Levant!
Indeed, this cuvée’s place name is “Bourron du Levant”. The “Levant” signifies the East and the vineyard parcel benefits from the sun’s first rays in the morning. In Cramant, the vines of the Levant are very different from those growing on the other side of the slope and looking West. The side facing East in Cramant gives birth to particularly rich and powerful grapes; it’s a magical place.
Vinification and maturation
The grapes are pressed gently, the juices are clarified very slightly and then go directly into wood. The natural alcoholic fermentation (indigenous yeasts) and the malolactic fermentation begin spontaneously in the Stockinger casks and vats. The wines are matured on the lees during their first year, with no filtering or fining being carried out.
The tirage takes place in July. There’s no blending with other years – this is a vintage Champagne – and no blending with other terroirs – this is a single-parcel Champagne. The bottles are taken down into the coolness of the cellars and stacked on lattes, the second fermentation takes place and the maturation continues slowly for 7 or 8 more years.
Each bottle is disgorged by hand 6 months before being marketed. The dosage is very discreet so as to appreciate better this well-balanced and extremely long cuvée (2 g/l).
When a Champagne is disgorged, the dosage is added, and this represents the finishing touch.
For Larmandier-Bernier, there’s no secret recipe. Once again, our objective is to let the terroir express itself. After all the care we’ve taken, starting in the vineyard, there’s no question of adding anything at all that could lead us away from the wine.
While most bruts have a dosage of around 12 g/l, we never go above 4 g/l for our cuvées. For Terre de Vertus, for example, we simply add nothing at all. Generally speaking, there remains about 1 gram of natural residual sugar. We would rather favour the ripeness of the grapes and their natural sugar, than add sugar when the bottles are disgorged and risk making the Champagnes heavy or straying from the terroir.
A deep, intense wine
This is a Champagne which should be tasted for its own qualities as an aperitif, to accompany poultry with morels, and this cuvée will happily stand its ground with dishes cooked in cream. It must be allowed time to open up, so that you can appreciate its power, complexity and exceptional length. It should be kept for two years (it will gain in depth) and much longer, even, if that’s how you like it.
Wine Advocate – Robert Parker – Issue 238 (Aug’ 18)
« The golden-yellow colored 2009 Vieilles Vignes du Levant Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut is sourced from up to 90-year-old vines in the Bourron du Levant lieu-dit in Cramant. It offers a deep, intense, powerful and complex nose that reminds me of great wines from Burgundy or Jura. Rich, intense and endlessly juicy but also highly finessed and thus seemingly weightless, this is a very complex, persistently mineral and structured Cramant with great tension, finesse and generosity. It sounds like a paradox, but this is the old-vines Cramant from the Larmandier family. » RB: 95 points