NV Jean Velut Brut Premier Temps
Region: Aube < Champagne < France
Grapes: 80% chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, 20-50 year old vines on chalky clay soils; fermentation and aging in cement tank for 12 months; 6 grams per liter of dosage; low added SO2 at bottling
Winemaker: Jean Velut
We love Champagne but don’t drink it that often because it’s sooo expensive – we get our bubble fix year-round from quirky and affordable Pet’Nats. But this time of year, we crave the real deal, so we seek out at least one great organic grower Champagne that meet our “clean” standards fand don’t break the bank. This year’s discovery is a small family estate in Montgueux, in the Aube, a formerly unknown satellite commune of Champagne where people grew grains and some grapes for house wine. That is, until the early 1970s when Champagne started gaining mass popularity, and Jean Velut realized that he was sitting on perfect terroir for growing Chardonnay to meet that demand. For Montgueux sits is a massive outcropping of chalk jutting out from the flat fields of wheat, and Chardonnay loves chalk. Jean’s original vines were on the plain, but he, along with a handful of mavericks, began planting up the steep, chalky slopes to find more sun and less frost. Since then, Jean’s son Denis and now grandson Benoit have continued to work this land and make fantastic, clean Champagne. Benoit recently transitioned the estate to fully organic practices – not easy in the cold, wet Champagne region. They do everything themselves (there’s just one full-time employee), from plowing in between the rows (to avoid herbicides), to riddling the bottles. This is bright, elegant and precise Champagne, it’s sharp Chardonnay edges softened by the addition of the rounder, softer Pinot – we love how light and clean it finishes, with no yeasty, brioche notes weighing it down. A crowd-pleasing, wallet-friendly, organic Champagne for the holidays – what’s not to love?