Based in the village of Merfy, located just seven kilometers north of the city of Reims, Chartogne-Taillet is arguably the most important grower-producer in this small-yet-hallowed gem of Champagne. The hillsides of this area were originally planted over 14 centuries ago, and at the time, boasted the largest concentration of vines in the region.
Over the centuries, Merfy somewhat fell into a forgotten state—though thanks to Alexandre Chartogne, the village is regaining the renown it deserves. After working under his mentor Anselme Selosse, Alexandre returned to Merfy back in 2006 to take over his family’s estate. His first wine, Les Barres, came from an ungrafted plot of Meunier planted over 70 years ago. Upon first vintage, his wines immediately began turning heads; by the following year, Alexandre took over the entire family estate.
Today, Alexandre farms just under 12 hectares of vines planted to Pinot Noir (50%), Chardonnay (40%) and Pinot Meunier (10%). While not certified, all farming is done organically, with respect for the environment placed first—this means no use of chemicals or herbicides whatsoever. Many of the vineyard sites are plowed by horse, and most of the vineyard labor is done by hand. Wines undergo native fermentation mostly in wood and are started with pied de cuvée that is made in the vineyard, then are aged in large French oak barrels prior to bottling for secondary fermentation. In contrast to Chartogne’s extremely compelling and sought-after single-parcel bottlings, his most popular cuvée, Sainte Anne, is tank-fermented. The latest addition to the portfolio is Hors Série, a champagne from the grand cru of Avize, where Chartogne acquired his first viticultural and oenological knowledge. This mythical cuvée showcases richness of fruit marked by chalky undertones and leads to a long and dry finish..
While grape variety matters, Alexandre focuses more on soil type and vineyard location to guide the wine through its vinification and aging process. These exquisite Champagnes are some of the most artisanal and thoughtfully-crafted wines coming out of the region, and the proof is in the bottle.