In his influential book Champagne Peter Liem speaks of a transformation in the region: a new wave of family growers and young winemakers who are paying closer attention to the farming; vinifying their own grapes rather than selling to the big houses; exploring and working with individual vineyards and parcels like their near neighbours in Burgundy. In short: “the acknowledgement of Champagne as a wine like any other”.
A key influence is the climate. While virtually all wine regions are experiencing warmer summers, this is particularly significant in Champagne where cool growing seasons and high acidity levels have long underpinned its signature style. This is not necessarily viewed a bad thing. For the moment, the impact has had many positive effects – fruit with higher levels of maturity and concentration, as well as reduced concerns about damage from frost and rain. However, the potential long-term consequences of rising temperatures are forcing many producers to rethink how they want to make their wines.
These changing conditions are expanding the parameters of what is possible and there are signs of real evolution and experimentation in a region historically ruled by tradition. This has translated most notably in a move away from multi-vintage blends towards more terroir-specific wines and single-vintage expressions. We are also seeing more and more varietal champagnes, a trend that goes against the traditional champagne mantra that blending is all important.
Brothers François and Pierre Huré, the third generation of Huré Frères in Ludes, have embraced this potential for change through their 4 Eléments project – a collection of three wines that provide a “precise, faithful and uncompromising view of our ‘lieux-dits'”. The wines are created according to four criteria:
1. Produced from a single vineyard or ‘lieu-dit‘ : grapes are sourced from select single-variety sites with the aim of presenting a unique expression of its terroir.
2. A pure expression of a single vintage : all fruit must be grown in a single year, providing a faithful manifestation of the vintage, regardless of the highs and lows.
3. Made from a single variety : flying in the face of the traditional champagne mantra that blending is all-important. The Cuvée consist of just one of the classic Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay.
4. Produced using the same style of vinification : wines are fermented and aged in a 600L barrel. No malolactic fermentation. 3g/L – dosage. Bottled on cork.
The brothers began this project five years ago, with the hope that vintage after vintage, their wines will show the strong identities of these vineyards. These wines represent an important element of this new wave in champagne production – one that respects the classic winemaking frameworks of the region while embracing the potential for innovation. On average 1,500 bottles of each 4 Eléments cuvée are produced each vintage: each wine displays an immense vinous quality and are totally unique in style, with distinct terroir-driven focus and concentration of flavour.
A selection of Champagnes from Huré Frères, including the 4 Eléments Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, are available to purchase through our online store: Indi-to-Go. To learn more about Huré Frères and their wines you can find more information on their producer page.