(Avize, Champagne, France)
A fourth-generation winemaker, Philippe Simon crafts his cuvées instinctively in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, in Avize, one of seventeen grand crus in Champagne. The winery in its present state is a beacon of hope for sustainable farming in the Champagne region, but it wasn’t always that way. In the late 1800’s, Charles Fèvre, the great-grandfather of Philippe, worked his vines and sold the harvest to négoçiants. His marriage to Angelina helped in the purchase of more vines, but, unfortunately, in 1929, as a result of the world-wide economic crisis, the growers of the region suffered at the hands of the négoçiants, who quit buying grapes, and, suddenly, the farmers were forced to become winemakers. Thus began the wineries of Marius Selosse and Léon Simon. In 1953, Christian Simon and Odette Selosse were married, and in 1959 the winery’s name was changed to Simon-Selosse. Slowly, the winery began to follow the technological advances in the field: a tractor replaced the horse, a mechanized press the manual. Finally, in 1990, Philippe took over the winery after completing oenology school in Beaune. Philippe, too, has done his share of evolving in order to adapt to changes in the wine laws of the region. He, wisely, holds his vines and his clients in the highest esteem, and reliably produces, year after year, wines of superb quality. His vines, planted on slopes of clay and limestone soils, receive a southeastern exposure, creating an ideal environment for healthy Chardonnay vines. Under Philippe, ‘la lutte raisonnée’ is practiced, but he is transitioning toward biodynamics; only organic fertilizers are spread, and the microclimate is maintained by the planting of herbs and grasses among the vines. Natural methods, such as sexual confusion, are used to control the threat of insects, and no fungicides are used. Above all, Philippe adheres to the traditional method of winemaking, and we humbly thank him for keeping it alive.
Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Extra Brut, ‘Premières Saveurs,’ Grand Cru, NV
From 30-40 year old vines of Chardonnay, ‘Premières Saveurs’ is a blend of 75% 2013 and 25% 2010 vintages. Vines grow in predominantly calcareous clay soils and receive easterly exposure to the sun. The grapes are hand-harvested and sorted in mid-September, before being pressed in a pneumatic press. Fermentation begins using both indigenous and cultivated yeasts in a steel tank and lasts about one month under controlled temperatures. Malolactic fermentation is completed and the wine is left in the tank to age on lees for about six months. The disgorgement occurs once a month since January 2014 with a dosage of 8g/L.
1.3 g Residual Sugar
4.1 g Total Acidity
Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Brut, ‘Cuvée Prestige,’ Grand Cru, NV
For this Cuvée, Philippe uses the best grapes picked from Chardonnay vines of at least 50 years old, and is an assemblage of harvests from 2010 (10%) and 2013 (90%), hand-harvested from calcareous soils in mid-September and sorted. They are then pressed in a pneumatic press and transferred to a steel tank for fermentation with temperature control, lasting about one month; both indigenous and cultivated yeasts are used. The wine is left on its lees for six months in the tank and spends three years on lees in bottle. The wine is disgorged 18 months after harvest depending on demand, then filtered and given a dosage of 8 g/L.
4.3 g Total Acidity
5.8 g Residual Sugar