At Laurent-Perrier, we're different from the rest, or at least we're perceived to be. It took a lot more time, effort...
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Vidoc, percheron, Galopin, percheron, Jasmin, percheron, Capucine, auxoise and then Julie De Sousa, winegrower who leads them to the vineyards with her voice, heard above the rows, mingled with the clicking of the bits in the great spring afternoons. With them, she starts with the sunny days in April and ends in autumn. In winter, it scratches the soils of 4 hectares, which are as healthy and naturally grassed as the other 6 hectares owned and 4 leased. This whole world is spread over 13 villages and 93 parcels in the Côte des Blancs from Cuy to Mesnil-sur-Oger, in Aÿ and Ambonnay for the Montagne de Reims, and Mancy and Mardeuil for the Marne valley.
Alongside Julie is Charlotte, the eldest of Erick and Michelle's three children De Sousa, who looks after the business, image issues and the stock of bottles after the sparkling process, and Valentin, the youngest of the siblings, who looks after the grapes, vinification and biodynamic treatments. Biodynamic viticulture has been in place for twenty years and has been certified since then, as has organic farming. Erick De Sousa is a pioneer in the benevolent care of his vines in the Champagne region, where at the time the question of clean viticulture hardly arose. Here, everything tends towards the natural fruit of a vine accustomed to gentle methods: "Here, this afternoon, we use a silica to concentrate sugars and prepare for winter. Another at flowering to accentuate the warming effects of light
The old plots speak volumes about the benefits of biodynamic viticulture, "the soil is livelier, lighter, the foliage is developed and airy, the 80-year-old vines as young as the younger ones. The whole is very fruitful, and yields are balanced thanks to this homeopathy that strengthens and stimulates the vine's defenses". In controlled doses, sulfur and copper are applied to the first leaves from mid-April, along with extracts of citrus essential oils (orange, lemon and grapefruit), nettle and osier teas to combat mildew, horsetail, silica and horn dung. In 2021, the trio's incessant vigilance ensured a balanced harvest: "It's a reactive surveillance based on observation of the vine's daily condition. In periods of high pressure, we treat the whole estate in nine hours
For the past six years, the best vines from the 1940 plots have formed the cohort of the estate's massal selections, which are now multiplied from some thirty original lines: "This is the condition for the future of our vineyard, without which we would supplement with our massals Fruit trees at the edge of the vineyard redesign the landscape, with cider and chewing apples, vine peaches, lime and maple trees, melliferous hedges, thyme, rosemary and lavender echoing with birdsong and the buzzing of bees. Local species such as hornbeam, red dogwood, 'La Marne' rose and sage are added. An insect hotel is home to "solitary bees", butterflies, spiders, earwigs, snails and ladybugs: "In winter, the hotel is full! Nesting boxes provide free shelter for chickadees, blackbirds and robins.
The fruits of the family's earthly nourishment De Sousa arrive at the Avize winery for a four-hour press in two clockwork Coquards. Barely
4 grams of SO2 per crumb, and Mozart's music accompanies the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations, without filtration or fining. The ten months of ageing take place in 228-liter barrels, with occasional light stirring of the lees - "The hardest thing is knowing how to do nothing A 22 hectolitre wooden egg houses Cuvée 3A, Mycorhize is matured in foudre, non-vintage Caudalies in enamelled steel vats, and Caudalies Les Pierres Vaudons 2012 and Caudalies Les Chétillons 2012, the estate's first two parcel-based cuvées, are aged in oak. Quartz crystallization "re-establishes the positive polarity of telluric currents in the cellar and raises the vibratory rate of the place, delivers an antioxidant message and prolongs the effects of organic silica used in biodynamic preparations". Earth and sky unite here. And so the world goes round De Sousa... / JEAN-LUC BARDE