Quentin & Alexandre Tellier are emblematic of the new wave of young vignerons in Champagne taking the helm of their family estate. They are transforming the model of the family business from the traditional focus of growing grapes for large brand producers to one more terroir based, or as the Tellier’s prefer to call it, Vigneron Paysan (Peasant Winegrower). Located in the Côteaux sud d’Epernay in the village of Moussy, their vineyard parcels are located primarily in two zones with different soil profiles and thus different varietals. Moussy is just down the hill from Chavot, where Aurélien Laherte is based and who tipped us off to Tellier’s estate.
Moussy & Pierry are Pinot Meunier dominant villages with (59%) followed by Chardonnay (35%) and Pinot Noir (6%). This area possesses a deeper surface of clay laid on top of the classic chalky limestone bedrock, which provides more structure, power and length to the resulting wines.
Chavot, Fontaine-sur-Ay & Cramant are villages where Chardonnay is king due to the relatively shallow clay surface over a similar chalky limestone bedrock. This produces wines that show more elegance and high-toned mineral components that are common in the great wines of the Côte des Blancs.
Beginning in 2016, the Tellier brothers began taking back the family vineyards, with 3 hectares to date, and will continue this process in the coming years, steadily growing their production. The average age of vines throughout the estate is 35 years old and a large percentage of them are the result of traditional selection massale, whereby the vines are propagated using the best bud material from the estate rather than depending on the generic version available from the local nursery. Farming is organic, leaning towards bio-dynamic, but is not yet certified.
In the winery, the harvest from each of the 18 plots is vinified separately, allowing for more flexibility in the blending process, because each plot has its own history, terroir and varietal makeup. Harvest is done by hand and the grapes are brought to the cellars for immediate pressing where the musts are protected by inert gas in stainless steel vats to avoid the immediate use of sulfites. Grape musts are allowed to settle for 12-24 hours without any additives, after which time the juice is transferred into barrel. Tellier prefers young but neutral barrels fine grained oak from the forests of the Vosges, Nièvre and Allier regions. Fermentation takes place in barrel using indigenous yeasts and the wines are aged in barrel without sulfites for the ensuing 8 months before blending and bottling, where the wines are lowered into the deep limestone cellars for a minimum 40 months aging on their lees. The wines are then disgorged and receive a minimal liqueur dosage or are left as is if deemed rich enough.
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