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 2011
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).
‘I’m increasingly convinced that Pierre Larmandier produced Champagne’s wines of the vintage this year, and the 2011 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Vieille Vigne du Levant only compounds that suspicion. Unfurling in the glass with a deep and complex nose of citrus zest, crisp yellow apples, smoke, warm bread, mandarin oil and oyster shell, it’s full-bodied and fleshy but incisive, with huge concentration, bright acids and a long, intensely saline finish. Totally transcending the reputation of 2011, it has many of the textural properties of a great white Burgundy, married with the cut and chalky grip of Champagne’s Côte de Blancs.”
97 Points, William Kelley, Wine Adocate