The most northerly of Suenen’s Oiry parcels, La Cocluette is also home to the Domaine’s oldest vines, planted in 1925 (the younger plantings from this site go into the Oiry Blanc de Blancs). Vines of this age are as rare as hen’s teeth in Champagne and they gift tiny yields of concentrated berries. The land here is largely flat with a somewhat northerly exposure and the ancient roots bury deeply into the dense, Campanian chalk.
Put simply, this is a more intense and complex expression of Oiry’s ‘naked chalk’ terroir than the NV wine above. It’s a superb, dense, tightly coiled and super-mineral Blanc de Blancs, with a long, rocky close. Here the base wine was naturally fermented and aged for 10 months in one 700 L concrete egg and one 500 L neutral French oak barrel. It was then aged sur lies for 60 months in bottle until disgorgement in June 2019, dosed with 2 g/L. - 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|
|Winemaking Practices||Minimal Intervention|