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Visiting Champagne Devaux in the Côte des Bar

Visiting Champagne Devaux in the Côte des Bar

7th July, 2014

Visiting Champagne Devaux in the Côte des Bar

Brand Manager Fran De Paolis describes an overnight visit to Pinot Noir specialists Devaux in the sunniest and most southerly part of the Champagne region:  

“The visit began with a trip to the ‘Beauregard’ vineyard with Viticulturalist Marie Cuisinot and Director Jean-Noël Girard. The beautiful 30-year-old Pinot Noir vines which lie on kimmeridgian soils (very similar to those in Burgundy) overlook the Vallée de l’Ource and Jean-Noël explained that this particular north-east facing vineyard gives elegance and floral aromas to the blend, while its structure comes from parcels around the more southerly ‘Les Riceys’. 

The berries are looking in perfect condition due to the ideal weather conditions over spring and the start of summer. If all goes well over July and August (ideally cool nights and 5-10mm rain a week to avoid hydric stress) then the 2014 harvest will occur during the 1st week of September once the grapes have reached the perfect balance between ripeness and acidity (two weeks ahead of usual time). Chief Winemaker Michel Parisot, who has been at Devaux for 23 years, and his team of viticulturalists, will taste the grapes each day to decide when the time is right and which cuvée the parcel is destined for.  

We then visited the winery – a beautiful combination of traditional 16th century timber buildings with the most modern technologies in the winery, set in stunning surroundings. Though the company is no longer family owned, it still feels like a small family-run operation with a dedicated and passionate team. Devaux own their own vineyards – a rarity in Champagne – which means they have full control over their grapes and can reserve the best quality fruit for their own wines. 100 hectares of vineyard produce 650,000 bottles of Champagne and they use first pressings only. In addition, grapes are pressed no more than 15km away from the vineyards to avoid too much skin contact from the Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are blended separately, mainly in stainless steel with some oak (from the local forests) used for the Collection D wines to add richness, toasty and buttery aromas.  

At their ‘Le Manoir’ headquarters, we were treated to a fascinating tasting of ‘vins clairs’ (the base wines) by Michel, with two separate flights of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that had been vinified in three different ways - stainless steel with malolactic fermentation, stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation and oak aged. All were high in the acidity that is necessary to give the ageing potential required of the final wines.  

Dinner the previous night and the lunch that followed the tasting were both a real treat, with the accompanying Champagne for each course served from magnum. The Grande Réserve was the perfect introduction to the Devaux style – fresh and elegant with a lovely Pinot Noir richness. Aged for seven years, the Cuvée D from magnum was rich and creamy with finesse from the Chardonnay, while the Cuvée D Rosé was beautifully delicate with fresh red fruit aromas.  The low dosage ‘Ultra D’ proved to be particularly popular and arrives in stock next week. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay with 40% reserve wine, it showed wonderful liveliness and length with a persistent fine mousse and lovely minerality.”