Geoffroy Empreinte Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru 2015
On the nose, a coated, flattering bouquet of a complex palette of aromas of red fruits. Airy, bright and vigorous in the mouth boasting great freshness, generous doses of strawberry and redcurrant, punctuated by hints of fragrant ?owers, such as peonies. It maintains a beautiful balance with a persistent finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
These days, many of the grower-producers are selling all the Champagne they can make. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, who has 14 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne, is the fifth generation in his family to grow grapes in the region. While his family has always made a little wine, they began to emphasize Champagne production in the bad years after World War II, when they were unable to sell their grapes to the big houses. In the 1970’s Mr. Geoffroy’s father decided to keep all the grapes and turn them into Champagne. Walking through a hillside vineyard in Cumières overlooking the Marne, Mr. Geoffroy’s parcels were easy to distinguish from the others. The lush green grass growing between his rows of bare vines was evidence of his distaste for chemical pesticides and herbicides. "If you don't have passion, you won't make very good Champagne," he said as he strolled the vineyard, waving at local hunters who also walked the rows, shotguns in hand, searching for rabbits and pheasants.
While this prominent grower estate has recently moved to the village of Aÿ, the Geoffroy name is inextricably linked to that of Cumières, where the family has winegrowing roots that date back to the 17th century. Today Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy and his father René farm 14 hectares of vines, 11 of which are in Cumières. A few parcels are located just across the border to the west in the adjacent village of Damery, while the rest is all meunier in the nearby village of Fleury-la-Rivière.
Geoffroy’s vines average about 20 years of age, and the oldest are from 1926. Viticulture is described as lutte intégrée, or “integrated pest control”—it is heavily aimed at sustainability, eschewing all chemical weedkillers and employing methods such as the planting of cover crops, tilling of the soil and the encouraged habitation of predatory insects to combat vine pests.
Associated with luxury, celebration, and romance, the region, Champagne, is home to the world’s most prized sparkling wine. In order to bear the label, ‘Champagne’, a sparkling wine must originate from this northeastern region of France—called Champagne—and adhere to strict quality standards. Made up of the three towns Reims, Épernay, and Aÿ, it was here that the traditional method of sparkling wine production was both invented and perfected, birthing a winemaking technique as well as a flavor profile that is now emulated worldwide.
Well-drained, limestone and chalky soil defines much of the region, which lend a mineral component to its wines. Champagne’s cold, continental climate promotes ample acidity in its grapes but weather differences from year to year can create significant variation between vintages. While vintage Champagnes are produced in exceptional years, non-vintage cuvées are produced annually from a blend of several years in order to produce Champagnes that maintain a consistent house style.
With nearly negligible exceptions, . These can be blended together or bottled as individual varietal Champagnes, depending on the final style of wine desired. Chardonnay, the only white variety, contributes freshness, elegance, lively acidity and notes of citrus, orchard fruit and white flowers. Pinot Noir and its relative Pinot Meunier, provide the backbone to many blends, adding structure, body and supple red fruit flavors. Wines with a large proportion of Pinot Meunier will be ready to drink earlier, while Pinot Noir contributes to longevity. Whether it is white or rosé, most Champagne is made from a blend of red and white grapes—and uniquely, rosé is often produce by blending together red and white wine. A Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay will be labeled as ‘blanc de blancs,’ while ones comprised of only red grapes are called ‘blanc de noirs.’
Representing the topmost expression of a Champagne house, a vintage Champagne is one made from the produce of a single, superior harvest year. Vintage Champagnes account for a mere 5% of total Champagne production and are produced about three times in a decade. Champagne is typically made as a blend of multiple years in order to preserve the house style; these will have non-vintage, or simply, NV on the label. The term, "vintage," as it applies to all wine, simply means a single harvest year.