Over the last decade, growers such as Cédric Bouchard and Bertrand Gautherot of Vouette et Sorbée have shown that the remote and sometimes overlooked vineyards of the Côte de Bars can produce profound and delicious Champagnes. Now it’s the turn of Elise Dechannes.
In 2008, Elise took over her family’s estate in Riceys, a village in the far south of the Champagne region with a historic reputation for growing excellent Pinot Noir on Kimmeridgian limestone soils. She farms 4.5ha of Pinot Noir as well as a tiny amount of Chardonnay using biodynamic treatments and with the aid of horses.
Fruit is hand-harvested site-by-site before being gently pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Aged in a combination of stainless steel, oak barrels, and amphorae, Dechannes’ single-vineyard cuvées are bottled without dosage, resulting in gastronomic Champagnes with enticing aromatics and exceptional fruit purity.
From a parcel of Pinot Noir at the heart of the village, ‘Essentielle’ is aged for 16 months on its lees. Smoky and vinous, the 2020 shows delicate orchard fruit notes alongside a moreish, savoury character.
‘Absolue Terre’ – from an old Pinot Noir parcel, ‘Val Preuse’ – spends 10 months in terracotta amphorae before bottling. Defying a challenging growing season, the 2017 is open and attractive with yellow fruit and patisserie, while the 2018 and 2019 (both excellent vintages) will reward further complexity with age. Just over 400 bottles of each were made.
Recently emerging as a new benchmark for Riceys, Elise’s wines are currently only available in the UK at Shrine to the Vine.
2020 – 24 bottles available (£59) Sold out
Pale pink hue. Raspberry, red apple, and smoky minerals. Joyful
Champagne ‘Absolue Terre’
2019 – 6 bottles available (£92) Sold out
Golden apple and toasted almond notes cut by tingling acidity.
2018 – 6 bottles available (£92) Sold out
Spiced apple and pear. Taut and pure – a long life ahead of it.
2017 – 6 bottles available (£92) Sold out
Yellow plum, sweet patisserie, and earthy minerality.
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