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Champagne Suenen Oiry Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut NV (R 17 Disg Nov 2020)

Champagne Suenen Oiry Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut NV (R 17 Disg Nov 2020)

$134.30 In any mixed 6
$158.00 per single bottle
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Tasting Notes

2017 base with 50% reserve wine from 2014-2016. Together with Suenen’s single-vineyard offering (La Cocluette), these represent the only pure Oiry wines on the market. This is drawn from just 1.5 hectares split between five separate parcels. The vines are all planted in Oiry’s compact, white Campanian chalk soils. From Le Champ Braux planted in 1955 to La Cocluette planted in 1987 and 1999, the average age of the vines is now 45 years. These vineyards lie at the base of the slope where only a little topsoil sits above hard, chalky bedrock.

The combination of this chalk’s austere, mineral impact and Suenen’s low-yield/ripe fruit philosophy produces a scintillatingly tense, coiled and stony wine. “Tonic” is the word Suenen uses to refer to this wine’s unique personality. It’s a study in minerality—the wine is rocky, vibrant, saline and vibrantly fresh. At the same time, the outstanding 2017 vintage (combined with the superb viticulture) has delivered lovely ripe fruit that throws nectarine and even apricot blossom notes. Creamy depths (from the aging on lees) enfold the wine’s structural and mineral qualities and keep you coming back for more. In short, this is everything you would want from Grand Cru Côtes des Blancs, and represents a unique opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, rocky terroir.

The base wine was naturally fermented and aged for nine months in the same vessels—enamelled tank (65%) and six-year-old Burgundian oak barrels (35%). No fining, no filtration, no cold stabilisation. The wine was disgorged in November 2020 (magnums and jeroboams were disgorged in January 2021) after 26 months on lees, with three grams per litre. - Importer Note

The story of this Domaine dates all the way back to 1898. By the time Suenen took the keys, it had acquired additional vines in the very north of the region. Very quickly he realised that it would be impossible for him to work the entire Estate (over five hectares with two hectares in the north) to the standards that he was aiming for. The vineyards in the north were in Montigny-sur-Vesle, very near the edge of the appellation, and they were too far away. So, with one exception (a tiny plot of ungrafted Meunier in La Grande Vigne), he sold off all of his northern plots. Today, Suenen farms just 3.2 hectares covering multiple parcels scattered mostly (apart from the aforementioned) across the northern Côtes des Blancs, in the Grand Cru villages of Cramant (where the Domaine is based) and neighboring Chouilly and Oiry. There are 17 parcels in total—mostly old vine—which now include a sliver of Avize purchased in 2020.

As you would expect of any top grower, Suenen works tirelessly in the vines. Here he is assisted by his right arm, Christophe Barbier, who has been working for the family for over 20 years. Suenen and Christophe cultivate, use cover crops and organic composts to nourish the humus and aim to increase soil biodiversity as much as possible. Herbal infusions are used to promote the natural defenses of the vines. Organic certification came in 2019. To further understand the nuances of his terroirs, Suenen works closely with Emmanuel Bourguignon (son of Claude and Lydia). Yields are low (half those of his father’s era) and while there is no fixed formula, Suenen tends to pick later than his neighbours, thus bringing more ripeness and depth to offset his vineyards’ intense minerality.

The winemaking here has followed a similar changing-of-the-guard trajectory. Although Suenen still uses the original enamel-lined tanks, today roughly a quarter of his production is vinified in wood and his single-site wines are 100% cask fermented and matured. Of course, these casks are neutral. Previously this took the form of six- to eight-year-old barrels from the Côte de Beaune. Now Suenen is transitioning to Stockinger foudre and demi-muids, which he finds impart less oak imprint. He also uses a single Noblot concrete egg to vinify some of his 1925-vine fruit from Oiry’s La Cocluette. In further contrast to his father’s time, Suenen’s wines spend far longer on lees in both cask (around nine months) and bottle (a minimum of 24 months for the blends and around 60 months for the vintage lieux-dit wines). He has also reduced the liqueur d’expédition level from brut to extra-brut to allow the singularity of each parcel to further shine through. Sulphur is used at press and after malo, with malolactic allowed to occur naturally. The base wines are naturally fermented and clarify naturally; there is no fining or filtration.

Product Type Wine Sparkling Champagne
Volume 750ml
Country France
Region Champagne
Sub Region Cotes des Blancs
Winemaking Practices Minimal Intervention
Vineyard Practices Organic/Biodynamic