Once in a while I taste a Grower Champagne* that could break through the noise of big brand Champagne marketing. Brilliant examples of grower Champagnes that have done this are Jacquesson and Pierre Gimmonet, producers who are not affected by anxieties about the done thing in the tightly-regulated region, producers who have singularity of vision and style.
Focus for a Grower Champagne is like concentration in diving and what allows them to constantly change, somersault and twist so the end result of all this experimenting with names, blends and single vineyards – for those in the high seats cheering them on – is one perfect, delicate splash.
Onto Nathalie Falmet Le Val Cornet NV. My first impression of this single vineyard Champagne is delicacy but this was quickly overcome by the bright flavours of summer: layers of freshly-cut nectarines, red apples and strawberries. All of this feels gentle and joyous, like a walk to the park for a picnic on a sunny day, until you realise the deeper notes of honey, caramel and liquorice suddenly have you in the path of a parade complete with brass band and a million waving flags.
The reason why this interesting depth happens is, as always, because of the winemaker and the terroir. Nathalie Falmet works in the Aube, the deep south of Champagne, but on the far eastern edge. Yet the delicacy shown in her Champagnes is not what you would expect this far south.
It shows the skill of the winemaker: Nathalie Fermet is a highly qualified oenologist (with her own laboratory consultancy business) as well as vigneronne who works on her family’s 3.2 hectares. She runs everything from label creation to vine cultivation. The concentration and focus of Nathalie Falmet is found here in this single vineyard Champagne, Le Val Cornet NV.
The whole domaine only produces an average of 33,000 bottle. For a breakthrough Champagne, it’s never going to be huge, but for Grower Champagne, that is the whole point.
Champagne Nathalie Falmet Le Val Cornet NV
£41.00 per bottle RRP
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Pinot Meunier, Blanc de Noirs. Base 2010 vintage. Disgorgement date: May 2014. Extra Brut – dosage: 6g per L.
Available in USA and in Paris at Peirre Gagnaire, Jean-Francois Piège and Trianon Palace.
Available in UK with Scala Wine (also, other Nathalie Falmet wines).
Thank you to Tim Hall at Scala Wine for the excellent and comprehensive Single Estate Champagne Tasting.
* Growers Champagne used in this post means RM (recoltant-manipulant) much like domaine wines in Burgundy where the person making the wine also owns the grapes.