Champagne Larmandier-Bernier is one of the true stars of the Côte des Blancs. Both the Larmandier and Bernier families have had a long history in the Champagne region dating back to the French revolution. Pierre took over the direction of the family estate in 1988, moving the family’s vineyards to Organics by 1992 and then to full-blown Biodynamic viticulture by 1999. All in all, the wines from Larmandier-Bernier are reference point Champagnes that fully demonstrate the profound potential of low dosage and non-dosé bottlings. These powerful wines revel in their beautiful expressions of terroir, impeccable balance and clean, zesty and very pure palate impressions.
Larmandier-Bernier Vieille Vigne du Levant Grand Cru Extra Brut 150cl 2010
The old vines of the Levant face south-east and benefit from an exceptional terroir. They are between 56 and more than 80 years old. Their roots go down deep, and the diversity of the old vine stocks contributes to the complexity of the wine. As is the case for the estate’s entire vineyard, they are cultivated naturally so as to obtain perfect ripeness.
Since the creation of this cuvée in 1988, it had been necessary to explain the difference between “Cramant” and “crémant”. In order to avoid this confusion, the name has changed: Vieille Vigne de Cramant has become Vieille Vigne du Levant! Indeed, this cuvée’s place name is “Bourron du Levant”. The “Levant” signifies the East and the vineyard parcel benefits from the sun’s first rays in the morning. In Cramant, the vines of the Levant are very different from those growing on the other side of the slope and looking West. The side facing East in Cramant gives birth to particularly rich and powerful grapes; it’s a magical place.
The grapes are pressed gently, the juices are clarified very slightly and then go directly into wood. The natural alcoholic fermentation (indigenous yeasts) and the malolactic fermentation begin spontaneously in the Stockinger casks and vats. The wines are matured on the lees during their first year, with no filtering or fining being carried out. The tirage takes place in July. There’s no blending with other years – this is a vintage Champagne – and no blending with other terroirs – this is a single-parcel Champagne. The bottles are taken down into the coolness of the cellars and stacked on lattes, the second fermentation takes place and the maturation continues slowly for 7 or 8 more years. Each bottle is disgorged by hand 6 months before being marketed. The dosage is very discreet so as to appreciate better this well-balanced and extremely long cuvée (2 g/l).
“Disgorged in June 2018, the 2010 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Vieille Vigne du Levant offers up a bright and detailed bouquet of citrus oil, flowers, white peach, warm bread and a delicate top note of walnut oil that’s less pronounced than its delicately oxidative 2009 counterpart. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, broad and satiny, with considerable concentration and old-vine extract, concluding with a long and saline finish.
96 Points” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate, 30 April 2019
“The 2010 Extra Brut Vielle Vigne de Levant Grand Cru is a gorgeous wine for drinking now and over the next handful of years. Aging on the cork for nearly eight years yields a Champagne with real nuance and complexity. Apricot, honey, dried herbs and wild flowers all grace this super- expressive Champagne. Light tropical overtones suggest the 2010 is more of a medium-term drinker rather than a long-distance runner. The 2010 is in a beautiful spot right now to deliver maximum drinking pleasure. I would not push my luck on aging though. Pierre and Sophie Larmandier craft the Levant from 50-70-year-old vines in Cramant. The 2010 was fermented 60% in neutral barrique and 40% in foudre, and then aged on the cork. Dosage: 2 gr/L. Disgorged: June, 2018.”
94 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous