Jérôme Prévost started in 1987, taking over a 1.5ha parcel of pinot meunier vines in Gueux (to the west of Reims) called Les Béguines inherited by his mother, who spurred him into action by doubting whether he could ever make it as a winemaker. He sold the grapes on to the négoce for the first ten years, primarily because he didn’t have a cellar tp produce the wines. He also worked with the iconic Anselme Selosse who allowed him to use his cellars in Avize from where he made Les Béguines from 1998 to 2003. He then made his champagnes in a garage behind his house, before moving in 2018 to a beautifully designed eco-friendly house and cave alongside his vineyard.
Jérôme is an artist at heart, working as a painter as a young man, and then later turning to sculpture and photography. He loves to scour local marché aux puces for tiny objets d’art writes poetry and organises literary celebrations.
He now works a 2.2ha vineyard where the 55 million years old (Thanetian) soils are deep strata of clays, sands and limestone, that weather out many marine fossils. Planted by massal selection on good rootstock in the 1960s before says Jérôme, “the industrial revolution arrived in the vineyards during the 1970s and clones and chemical solutions became the norm”. Yields here are naturally low and give intense fruit, particularly important for the pinot meunier grape, which is not overly perfumed and gives little unless picked ripe. As it is very rarely picked at optimum maturity in the region it doesn’t have the reputation that it deserves comments Jérôme.
Viticulture is meticulous and biodynamic oriented (without being certified) and his Champagnes are made in an unmanipulated (no unnecessary use of gadgetry and use of electricity avoided wherever possible) natural style with indigenous yeasts, vinification and élevage for 10 months in a mix of new to 13yo barrels of all sizes from 225l to 600l. He neither racks, filters nor stabilises the wine, uses 23g/l for the secondary fermentation, then gives 14 to 17 months bottle age and disgorges with around 2g/l. His bottlings are the ultimate expression of champagne as fine wine, and always repay ageing for several years for anyone who can resist temptation and cellar a few bottles – Jérôme reckons that they start to open out when they are around six years old!
The initial still wine from the 2018 vintage was oak aged in new to 13yo barrels for ten months, before being bottled and then disgorged in August 2020 at which point 2g/l dosage was added. Rich, vinous, dense, complex and extremely long on the palate but all the time beautifully fresh and balanced. Serve in a Burgundy glass rather than a Champagne flute to get the best experience.