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Thursday, 7 January 2021

Chassenay d’Arce Vintage Champagnes

Two vintage Champagnes from Chassenay d’Arce - with something very unusual

The grapes

One of the first things I learnt about Champagne is that there are three Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Much later I learnt that Champagne actually permits a much wider range of varieties, including Pinots Blanc and Gris (which are clones or mutations of Pinot Noir).

The classic trio of Champagne grapes accounts for 99.7% of plantings, so you are unlikely to find anything else in a bottle of Champagne.

Chassenay d’Arce, however,  own a few blocks of Pinot Blanc; for the 2008 vintage, they blended a small amount of Pinot Blanc into their Champagne. In 2012, they made a 100% varietal vintage Pinot Blanc Champagne.

The House

Chassenay d’Arce was founded in in 1956 and is based in Ville-sur-Arce in the very South of the Champagne region. It covers 315 hectares and 12 villages along the Arce River in the Côte des Bar.

The House has grown from its five original founders to some 130 families with three generations of winemakers united by a self-declared spirit "of family, terroir and the high standards shared by our winemakers to ensure we produce only champagnes of the greatest quality."

Terroir and Technique

The Arce Valley is located at the southern end of Champagne and is shaped by a unique landscape alternating between vineyards and forests; it is also characterized by diverse varieties and integrated cultivation.

The soil is Kimmeridgian and was once covered by the sea. The climate is mild, the region is physically closer to Dijon in Burgundy than to Reims and this, the grapevines’ exposure and the soils of stony marl allow the fruit to be harvested at full maturity towards the end of summer.

The original operations endure with the same spirit of cooperation, solidarity and knowledge sharing; the winemakers use only their top grapes from the first pressing and all bottles are aged for a minimum of 36 months.

This attention to detail and commitment to quality creates a range of Champagnes with rich expression  great finesse and many awards.

2012 Pinot Blanc

Made from a few blocks of long-forgotten Pinot Blanc, this is a remarkable wine.

100% Pinot Blanc, vinification in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks with barrels for 6% of the wine. Non-malolactic fermentation for 19%, aged in bottle for 6 years on the lees. Extra brut dosage: 3 g/l, 12% 

Pale yellow with green and a lively mousse, expressive, fresh aromas with white, yellow and citrus fruit and floral and delicately toasted notes. Rounded and generous, with a full body and texture, saline minerality.

It is initially quite shy aromatically and still tightly wound, but there is a pure, concentrate and muscular core that gradually opens up with aeration. This wine is only just at the beginning of its drinking window and will repay extensive cellaring.

Very Good.

Drink as an aperitif or match with shellfish and raw fish.


Vintage Brut 2008

A refined and delicate blend from a fantastic year.

58% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier & 3% Pinot Blanc; vinification in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and in barrels for 2.5% of the wine. with partial malolactic fermentation. 

Aged in bottle for 10 years on the lees; Brut Dosage of 9 g/l, 12 % alcohol.

Bright pale yellow with green and fine, generous mousse; expressive, complex and fresh aromas of citrus, white and yellow fruit and white flowers, with brioche, toast, and some hazelnut. Delicate yet precise and taut with good structure and minerality; persistent, fresh and long finish.

This is a very pure and precise Champagne, still closed up even at over a decade; dense, concentrated and textured, it opens up with aeration and will repay extensive cellaring.

Very Good.

Drink as an aperitif ort match with amuses bouches or fish

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