Cédric Bouchard is young, talented, and iconoclastic. Though relatively new on the scene (he started his label in 2000), he’s already trying to redefine the centuries-old traditions of Champagne by eschewing blending and focusing on single-vineyard, single-varietal, single-vintage wines. Perhaps it was this initiative that earned him the title of Champagne’s finest winemaker by the Gault Millau in 2008.
Bouchard seeks to create wines of individual character and minimal intervention. His wines are made from organically farmed grapes with highly restricted yields, which ensures that only excellent fruit goes into the wine. He ferments the first pressing of the juice to preserve its most delicate flavors, and uses only indigenous yeasts for the first fermentation (neutral yeasts for the second). His wine ferments in steel, and he adds little or no dosage. At every turn, he aims to preserve the natural qualities of his fruit.
The three bottlings from his own vineyards all sold under his “Roses de Jeanne” label. These include a Blanc de Noirs from the small vineyard of Les Ursules, which produces annually less than 300 cases; a rosé from the tiny Le Creux d'Enfer vineyard, made by the saignée method of crushing the Pinot Noir and running off the juice after several hours of skin contact, with only 300 to 500 bottles are produced annually; and a Blanc de Blancs from the vineyard of Le Haute-Lemblée, which only produces 500 to 800 per year, as yet unreleased.
Bouchard’s second label, which he calls “Inflorescence,” is made of grapes sourced from his family’s vineyards, and he employs the same singular focus to the winemaking process. His terroir-driven wines from both labels are underscored by their long, cool fermentation and delicate bubbles (he’s been said to find bubbles distracting--in fact, he even recommends gently decanting his wines). Made in miniscule quantities with the utmost care, these wines are stellar examples of innovative winemaking.
"Readers seeking to discover the finest in Champagne owe it to themselves to check out the wines of Cédric Bouchard. Minuscule yields, organically farmed old-vine parcels, a non-interventionalist approach in the winery and cellar and Bouchard’s inspired vision elevate these single-vintage, lieu-dit wines to the summit of Champagne. The wines are bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no dosage, leaving only the indelible stamp of vintage, vineyard, and grape variety as interpreted by this immensely gifted vigneron. For what it is worth, these are some of the most treasured bottles I own." --Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate 12/2010Media Links
The New York Times Dining & Wine: Champagne's Servants Join the Masters
SFGate: Champagne's Aube region gets a moment to sparkle
ChampagneGuide.net: Cédric Bouchard