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France - Champagne - Trépail

While the Léclapart family is well into in its fourth generation of champagne production, David Léclapart's decision to follow in the family business came relatively late. It was not until his father passed away that he assumed responsibility for the estate, and in 1998 founded his own small domaine. Prior to that he had worked at Léclerc-Briant in Epernay and studied at the agricultural school in Beaujeu. Following his arrival at the family estate, he transitioned almost immediately to biodynamic agricultural methods. And 1999 saw the small volume release of his first three cuvées, drawing the attention of champagne insiders around the world.

Léclapart's 3 ha vineyard in the Premier Cru village of Trépail is scattered among 22 parcels. The estate's biodynamic approach has been certified by Ecocert and Demeter from the 2000 vintage onward. David Léclapart believes that biological winegrowing is complicated for Champagne: "The weather is difficult, especially in terms of mildew. There's a constant risk of losing the grapes." He is convinced however that the quality achieved in the vineyards has a radical impact on the quality in the bottle.

Léclapart uses no reserve wines, instead producing each champagne from a specific vintage that appears on the label. Chaptalization was only performed in 2001 and 2007, and the initial fermentation uses only wild yeast. Amateur and half of Artiste are aged in enameled steel tanks, while the rest are matured in oak casks. To stabilize the wines and avoid the use of sulfur, all cuvées undergo malolactic fermentation. The wines remain "sur lie" until shortly before the next vintage's harvest and are filled without fining, filtration or cold stabilization. All champagnes are zero dosage.

Leclapart's wines are notable both for their extremely high quality, yet also an uncompromisingly distinctive nature. They are remarkably pure and nuanced, and express the essence of Trépail. The wines are released relatively young, as Léclapart lacks warehouse space. Ideally the champagnes will be allowed to mature for several years in the cellar before being enjoyed. Decanting is recommended should the champagnes be opened young, as they can be otherwise inaccessible in their youth.

Facts: Trépail, Montagne de Reims, R.M., 3 ha.

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