Despite its premier cru status (90% on the échelle des crus), it’s likely that Villers-Aux-Noeuds, just to the south-west of Reims, would be consigned to obscurity if it weren’t for Emmanuel Brochet. There are a mere 25ha in the village, and population expansion has brought the city even closer—the view from Emmanuel’s 2.5ha vineyard of Le Mont Benoit offers not only the verdant hillsides and yellow fieldscapes typical of the Champenois countryside, but also electricity pylons and the extending urban sprawl from Reims just a kilometre away.
Emmanuel began working a portion of his family’s holdings in 1997, bottling his first wine in 2002. He has a single parcel of vines on a gentle southeast facing slope in the lieu-dit of Le Mont Benoit, which lies on Cretaceous-era chalk under about 25cm of chalky-clay topsoil. The parcel is planted with all three major varieties and the oldest vines date from 1962, although about half the parcel was replanted in 1986, following the devastating frosts of the year before.
This comes from 39yo vines on a southeast facing hillside in Villers-aux-Noeuds. It is made from a base of 80% 2014/ 20% 2013, aged in new to 12yo barrels for eleven months, and was then given two and a half years sur lattes before disgorging with a dosage of 4g/l. The malolactic fermentations have been completed. It feels vivid and vibrant in its energy, and is intensely expressive of its terroir, not only in its briny, oyster-shell minerality but also in its rich body.