Tasted in Rully with Chloé Friedmann, 25th February 2015.
Maison Louis Picamelot
12 Place de la Croix Blanche
Tel: +33 3 85 87 13 60
Whilst ‘mousseux’ was common across much of Burgundy in the early 1900s – it was even possible to buy Chambertin Mousseux before the AOC laws came into force – Louis Picamelot, in Rully, was one of the first to concentrate on it. Rully is still the home of Louis Picamelot and probably the first address to try, for anyone wanting to know exactly how good Crémant de Bourgogne really can be.
Louis Picamelot was the son of a cooper and winegrower, and released his first bottles in the 1930s – although given the aging required, he’d actually begun in 1926. Louis had two daughters who were married to Jean-Baptiste Chautard and Louis Siraudin. Philippe Chautard is one of the sons of Jean-Baptiste and remains a director today.
In 1975 the Appellation “Crémant de Bourgogne” was recognised by the AOC, and replaced Mousseux on the labels – at the same time, it was prohibited to use the phrase ‘Methode Champenoise’ on a label for the Crémant de Bourgogne, even if that was exactly the method used.
A visit to their cuverie is heartily recommended, with quarry walls on two sides and their tanks in-between. The quarry of Rully was bought in 2000 and then converted – when I visited, the bottling of their rosé was underway in the entrance of the ‘quarry.’ All their tanks are therm-regulated, and all the wines go through full malolactic fermentation and the different terroirs all have separate elevage. The blanc de blanc also has a little aligote to bring some freshness, but there is also a blanc de noir made just from gamay produced in St.Aubin. The rosé is by saignée, not from blending – one night is enough – says Chloé. A little of the chardonnay sees barrel too for the blanc de blanc blend.
The harvest for crémant is normally 7-10 days before general (still-wine) harvest, as they require about 10% potential alcohol to start with as the second fermentation with fruit and yeast still has to follow. Surprisingly – given that it’s not obligatory for making Grand Cru still wine – there is obligatory manual harvesting of grapes for crémant! Here they need about 30 harvesters over about 6-7 days.
About 200,000 bottles of crémant are produced per year; 35% exported. 15-20% of production is for other domaines using their grapes (contract manufacturing). The dosage is fairly low, 4-5 g and it doesn’t change much with the vintage.
I tasted the wines and toured the cuverie with Chloé Friedmann, who is head of sales for Louis Picamelot. This is not just a good range, it’s topped by two exceptional wines – many a grand marque Champagne will be a little embarrassed when tasted side-by-side. The rosé is not at the same level but is tasty enough.
Crémant de Bourgogne Les Terroirs, Brut
This ‘entry wine’ is made with pinot noir, chardonnay and aligoté – some years a bit of gamay too. This wine is from vintage 2012 though it’s not noted on the labels – there is no blending of vintages. The dosage was about 5g/l.
Rather a pretty nose, certainly nothing that shouldn’t be there. In the mouth, warm fruit, a little like apricot, but this is wide and quite persistent. Good flavour and a good start!
Crémant de Bourgogne Les Terroirs, Brut
Same as the last wine, but from 2013; disgorged (just) but not yet commercialised…
The fruit seems deeper and maybe riper – certainly it’s a ripe lemon impression. Nice, fresher, wider flavour that’s slightly perfumed. In a perfect world I’d take this palate and the previous nose – at least today!
This wine is from the core of the pressing – a long pressing at that. Anywhere between 24-36 months of elevage, and a part of that which was elevaged in barrel. This is a blanc de blanc from 2011 with 20% aligote and 24 months of elevage – which you can work out from the back label.
High tones a little green plum maybe. Lovely acidity and fine flavour – it’s nicely textured too – at least once the bubbles die down a little. Complex and very, very tasty. And very fine finesse too. Brilliant wine even before you consider that it’s 10€ ex cave!
Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noir
Also from 2011 harvest like last wine, with a total of 34 months elevage and from a single parcel from above St.Aubin. Only 3g/l dosage here.
Direct, good depth of aroma too, not obviously pinot noir and quite finessed too. Give it time in the glass and it shows a bit more pinot. The flavour is more blanc de noir than the nose but it’s also wide, fresh, pretty and very complex – lovely. Overall I’ve a preference for the blanc de blanc, but this is very tasty indeed!
From 2010, a blanc de blanc also with 77% chardonnay. 36 months elevage sur lattes. This is the only cuvee that is labelled as a vintage.
A complex nose of fresh fruit tart but clean and interesting too. This really fills the mouth with flavour, and reminds me more of the blanc de noirs than the blanc de blanc previously – but a very very fine width of flavour. I like this very much (too!) there’s width and complexity within this width that is fine and detailed, and there’s no unbecoming weight either. Yum
Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé
From 2012, and is 100% pinot noir with just an overnight skin contact for colour, 6.5g/l dosage.
A little biscuity, almost reductive. Generous, round, perhaps a hint of agrumes fruit but then a little more raspberry shaded. Good length. A wine, but that honestly struggles to follow some of those that came before…