Ellis' Producer Spotlight: Champagne AR Lenoble
Champagne conjures up romantic images and commands an enviable position in terms of reputation and premium image. Pushing aside the big brands’ marketing, sponsorship and advertising clout however, reveals unsung and un-heralded ‘grower’ Champagnes which are more than a match for their illustrious cousins. One of these producers at the top of their game is Champagne AR Lenoble.
Great-grandchildren of the founder, sister and brother combination Anne and Antoine Malassagne run this 100% family-owned company which has been in operation now for 100 years. This independence results in a Champagne house driven by quality and innovation underpinned by stability and sustainability. Ellis Wines have been dealing with AR Lenoble for around thirty years since Colin Ellis first struck up a relationship with Jean-Marie Malassagne in the early 90s before the reins of both companies were handed to the next generation.
Together the Malassagne siblings manage their 18ha of vineyards in three prime Champagne locations and were the second House in Champagne to be awarded the “Haute Valeur Environnementale” certification in recognition of more than 20 years of environmentally-friendly procedures. This includes zero use of chemical fertilisers, zero use of weed killers, drastic limits on the use of phytosanitary inputs and particular attention to biodiversity and enhancement of the vineyard with hedgerows, orchards, embankments, trees and low walls.
In the winery a combination of different vinification vessels are employed so that individual parcels are fermented to extract maximum potential while recently a lot of attention has been paid to the ageing of reserve wines. This includes conserving a portion in magnums sealed with natural cork to preserve freshness and develop aromatic richness – the ‘Mag 14’ and ‘Mag 15’ wines. All wines are aged in the historic 18th-century chalk cellars with a constant temperature of 11°C and a humidity level of 85%.
With accolades from the likes of Steven Spurrier and Jancis Robinson, the wines of Champagne AR Lenoble can grace any line-up and more than hold their own. So, if you are looking for the ultimate romantic toast this Valentine’s day, leave the big names to everyone else and really impress with an alternative choice reflecting all the passion and expertise of 100 years of family production.