Champagne NV Savart L’Ouverture Premier Cru France
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Fred Savart’s Champagne are some of the most sort after Growers Champagne at the moment. Get it while it’s hot!
Sebastian Crowther, Master Sommelier
The three most common grapes found in the Champagne region of France are Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (red), although there are four other grapes permitted in this appellation (more on this another time). Often these grapes are blended together to produce a harmonious style, with each grape contributing something different. Less often, we see wine made from a single grape variety. When Chardonnay is used it’s called a Blanc de Blancs and when Pinot Noir is used it’s called Blanc de Noirs, that’s what this Champagne is. A Blanc de Blancs is generally known for its finesse and elegance however this Blanc de Noirs carries this finesse along with added intensity and richness.
The Champagne region needs little introduction. The famous sparkling wine region located just 45 minutes from Paris. This is the epicentre of the world’s fizz and they can’t be emulated anywhere else on the planet!
Rise of the Grower: The last decade or so have seen a huge rise in the amount of Growers Champagnes available in the market and the interest has gone through the roof. This is for good reason. But who and what are they? Growers Champagne or Récoltant-Manipulant in French, is the opposite to what the big houses are all about. They producer tiny amounts of fizz, legal 95% of all the grapes they use must come from their own vineyards. Most of these producers, are young, new generation who have taken over from their parents or grandparents who were selling their fruit to the larger houses. These guys and girls don’t have the big marketing departments and budgets for lavish events, but what they lack here they make up for in superior quality, passion and the ability to create delicious handcrafted champagne for our drinking pleasure.
Frédéric was born into a family of vignerons, but his real dream was to be a professional footballer. He even signed a youth contract with Stade de Reims, playing as an attacking midfielder, but after meeting the woman, who was to become his wife, he refused a potential transfer to another club, and decided to return home to work with his father, Daniel.
The family estate was founded by Daniel’s father, René Savart, who purchased his first vines in 1947. Daniel himself took over the winemaking in the 1970s, although production remained extremely small until the mid-1980s, when he significantly expanded the family’s vineyard holdings. Since 2005, Frédéric has been at the helm of the estate, although Daniel continues to be very much present, cheerfully greeting visitors and happy to share a glass of wine.
Today, the Savarts farm four hectares of vines, three in Ecueil and one in the neighbouring village of Villiers-aux-Noeuds. Nearly all of it is Pinot Noir, with just a half-hectare of Chardonnay: “Historically, Ecueil is a pinot noir terroir,” says Frédéric Savart. His philosophy in the vineyards is to prevent disease as much as possible, rather than treat it—towards this end, he prefers a holistic approach, creating an environment within which the plant is better equipped to resist malady on its own. The soils in this area can vary: many parcels in Ecueil are notably sandy, although there’s more clay on the mid-slope, and a few areas that are relatively chalky. The soils of Villiers-aux-Noeuds are generally chalkier than those of Ecueil, and Savart’s vineyards here are particularly prized for their sélection massale (selection massale is a French wine growing term for the practice of replanting new vineyards with cuttings from exceptional old vines from the same (or nearby) property.) of the renowned pinot fin d’Ecueil, planted here by Daniel and René.
This wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir making it a Blanc de Noirs Champagne. All the fruit for this wine is from their village of Ecueil and it sees full malolactic fermentation. It’s a striking drink. Richly mineral with stone fruit character. Cherry and plum. Beautiful lift from the florals, but it’s the palate where things get really interesting. A beautiful pristine line of acidity runs through this wine, while the fruit lingers off the sides. Again, the minerality lingers with a smoky edge. This is truly a classy champagne. While Champagne flutes are very traditional, I find them a little restrictive. Many of the Champagnes I like to drink, including this one, have plenty of personality. By serving them in Champagne flute you are only getting a small amount of their personality. I opt for wine glasses, smaller all-purpose white wine stem are best. This gives the wine some breathing room and ensures you are getting everything you paid for!