Base 2017. Disg. Mar 2021. The current release is based on 2017 with 65% (!) reserve wine from 2016. This is already a great, great Champagne—a beautifully textured and perfumed Blanc de Noirs that comes from a site in Barbonne-Fayel in the Côte de Sézanne. Les Maillons is six hectares of iron-rich clay, of which Collin farms almost half (he is the only grower to work the soil in this site). The Ulysse-Collin parcel was originally planted with massale vines in 1971. The commute by tractor takes a good two hours from the cellar in Congy, but the wine is worth it! As mentioned above, it’s a superb Pinot terroir and can ripen the grapes north of 12% potential alcohol easily—something very rare in Champagne. Despite the power, the location of the site also helps to conserve acidity and freshness thanks to its ventilated, east-facing exposure. The current release includes a significantly higher portion of reserve wine than previous releases and it’s all the better for it. It was aged in three- to six-year-old barrels (including some foudres) for the first seven months of its life. Disgorged with only 1.7 g/L. Pair with Veal Saltimbocca,prosciutto/Jamon or Parmigiano Reggiano.
Varietal / Blend: Pinot Noir
Decant: Not necessary
Farming Practices: Sustainable
While the Côte des Bar is arguably Champagne’s most vocal concentration of independent, terroir-obsessed growers, the fame of the Coteaux du Petit Morin and the Côte de Sézanne terroirs' – the southerly continuation of the Côte des Blancs – rests largely on the shoulders of one vigneron. It’s just as well those shoulders belong to Olivier Collin. As a student of law, Collin was another who fell into the orbit of Jacques Selosse under whom he first became vineyard stagiaire in 2001. Fast-forward four years (if we may) and this law student-cum-vigneron had managed to untangle his family’s 8-hectares of vines from the lengthy, byzantine contracts his family had made with Pommery—and the Coteaux du Petit Morin had a star of terroir Champagne on its hands. Collin’s vineyards are ploughed and yields are strictly controlled when required (Mother Nature did this work for him in 2012). Grass is allowed to grow naturally during the winter, and Collin ploughs at appropriate moments throughout the growing season. No herbicides or pesticides are used. The grapes are pressed in a traditional 1950s Coquard press, and the juice is vinified in a growing coterie of large-format barrels and foudre, with no added yeasts (or anything else). After ten months élevage in barrel the wines are neither fined nor filtered before bottling in July. Collin disgorges after a minimum 24 months on lees with a tiny 1-3 grams dosage. These are some of the most original and satisfying terroir wines emanating from Champagne.