The Champagne region as one of the oldest wine making regions in the world. It has nearly 16,000 wine growers, so it's no surprise it is committed to sustainable wine growing practices. Lanson the 3rd oldest (1760) Champagne House, was the first important House to stress their commitment to organic and sustainable wine growing with an organic Green Label Champagne. 83 percent of the vineyards used for Cristal and Roederer's top cuvées are now farmed bio dynamically.
"For some years a green revolution has been underway. It is one of the world's territories with the fastest rate of growth of organic and biodynamic viticulture. The word 'sustainability' is not just chitchat, but has entered into the protocol of the great maisons, as well as that of the cooperatives and vignerons themselves. This was the first wine region in the world to calculate, in 2003, its carbon footprint, and to establish a program to reduce emissions..." Gambero Rosso
▸ Visit 1 Premier Cru Multi tasting at a family grower.
▸ Visit 2 Vineyard visit with the winemaker & tasting of Special Club
▸ Visit 3 Single grape Grand Cru producer visit and tasting
▸ Visit 4 Visit and Tasting at one of the top Artisan producers in the region
Converting to organic or biodynamic methods is a challenge for winemakers as it can reduce yield as much as 30 percent less than intensively farmed vineyards. This translates into significantly lower earnings, which when combined with higher farming costs, and no universal agreement that organic grown grapes result in better tasting Champagne, one can understand the difficulty they face.
Top artisan growers tend to follow organic and sustainable practices to obtain the best of both worlds and to potentially protect losing an entire harvest. A number of them have achieved great notoriety among the top reviewers, connoisseurs, as well as chefs at 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants. Since 1970, some vineyards like Leclerc Briant have gone further and experimented with biodynamic methods, and noticed better ripeness in the grapes.
These winemakers blend grapes from multiple parcels of vines across the various Cru's to create a specific style and based on where they own vineyards. Winemakers, think of the Cru classification in terms of specific flavours, style and maturity rather than an objective measure of quality as the Cru classification makes no account for changes in climate, farming techniques or production procedures that have occurred over the past hundred years or so. It doesn’t discriminate when it comes to vineyards, either. An outstanding vineyard on the borders of a cru-designated village can never hope to achieve a cru classification.
We will visit some of these small grower vineyards, and see the entire wine making process.