Davy Żyw, Buyer
Davy Żyw, our Champagne Buyer, has selected a rich, complex cuvée from one of the region’s most exciting producers – one to savour alongside picnics, barbecues or simply under a starry night sky
What’s the story behind the wine?
Leclerc Briant’s wines are energetic, pure and extremely stimulating. Although a historic Champagne House, Leclerc Briant are celebrating a new lease of life, producing some of the region’s most exciting styles today. They are trailblazers through and through: biodynamic and organic, they use low dosage, with little or no sulphur in the winery and radical vinification methods. Their flagship Brut Réserve is unlike any other non-vintage Champagne: it is actually from vintage 2018, it’s Extra Brut and totally delicious.
Can you tell us more about the winemaking?
This wine is 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, mostly from Premier and Grand Cru villages. The fruit is sourced purely from organic and biodynamic vineyards, which account for a small fraction of the total in the region. These viticultural practices are riskier, and they yield smaller crops at harvest. But the small yields produced are concentrated and full of personality.
Under the watchful eye of Chef du Cave Hervé Jestin, the grapes are pressed gently and naturally fermented. The wine is made in steel and oak barrels (second-fill Châteaux d’Yquem and Haut-Brion Blanc, no less) and terracotta egg. The still wines are always held on the fine less and then bottled, after the autumn solstice following the harvest.
This extended time kept as a still wine in mixed vessels gives the wine incredible energy and texture. The 2018 vintage yielded wines with great purity, and the low dosage (4.5 grams of sugar per litre) keeps the wine crunchy, mineral and tangy, with a foaming pleasure-inducing mousse. It is impossible not to be charmed by it.
How will you be enjoying it this summer?
In my opinion, there is never a wrong moment to open a bottle of Champagne – particularly Leclerc Briant. The biodynamic character of this wine means it is intimately connected to the patterns of nature, so there is no better place to enjoy it than in the garden: one bottle to start the picnic or barbecue, and another to finish under the starry night sky.
Do you have any favourite dishes or flavours to pair this with?
It’s delicious with grilled fish tacos and a coriander chilli mango salsa, or alongside cold cuts of ham with mustardy new potatoes and piccalilli.
TASTE ALONG WITH BARBARA DREW MW