Champagne Gremillet is located in the southern part of the Champagne region. The family is mainly making Champagne out of Pinot Noir. Founded in 1979, the Gremillet family business is still in its youth.
Their estate is located in an area of Champagne called Côte des Bars. Here, 75% of the vines are Pinot Noir and are grounded in limestone-clay soil.
At VinExpo 2015, I had a chance to talk with Anne Gremillet, daughter of Jean-Michel Gremillet, who grew up amongst the vines of what is now a strong family business. Champagne Gremillet is producing approximately half a million bottles per year. Anne informed me that since their family’s Champagne house is so young, they spent a good portion of time giving priority to the vines throughout the years. As their beautiful brochure states, “Our House is above all a family House”, obviously implying that what is part of their house is what they take care of.
“We are always looking for freshness; the Champagne has to be easy to drink. This is what we think.”
Of their 2014 harvest, Anne says that they had “lots of grapes”. As she was talking, her hands gestured to reveal just how large the harvest was. There was a “very big quanity [of grapes], and the quality was good”. I inquired about how the growing season is showing itself at this time. Anne said it was difficult to tell how things will work out; there is always threat of hail in Champagne.
Champagne Gremillet supplies bubbles for all of the French Embassies all over the world. Of her family, Anne said, “I’ve always seen my family working hard to make what we have today. We are very lucky.”
Anne kindly opened up a magnum of their Sélection BRUT to start off the interview.
The Sélection BRUT is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It was quite clean with notes of almond skin, citrus, great acidity, and an extremely nice mousse.
Up next I had the pleasure of trying the Blanc de Blancs BRUT. Blanc de Blanc is always made form 100% Chardonnay. This is required by law in Champagne. The Blanc de Blancs had a light intensity and garnered lemon peel, lime zest, and a frank mineral-driven finish that reminded me of the terroir from which the grapes came.
Champagne Gremillet is also making vintage bubbly. Their 2009 “Le Millésimé” BRUT was developing nicely, and was charmingly clean with notes of brioche, toast, freshly squeezed lemon, and finished with a chalky minerality.
One of the most intriguing Champagne’s I tried at VinExpo was Gremillet’s Cuvée Évidence BRUT. A gastronomic Champagne, according to Anne, this libation was a clear lemon-green colour. It was only oaked during malolactic fermentation for 3-4 weeks. Green fruits, toast, and fresh bread & butter all coincided beautifully together in the glass. The little bit of oaking on this Champagne made a different investment in the final product.
Moving forward, I also had the opportunity to try the BRUT Nature Zéro Dosage. “This is a wine for a targeted [market]; for people who want this kind of Champagne.” Anne poured a sample into my flute glass, and I began evaluating it. There is always something about wines that have not had the dosage added; they envelop a certain characteristic that is definitely for certain tastes.
This Champagne had a very elegant mousse, and notes of green apples, almond, and wet stones rounded out the sharp acidity and light body. “Only 0-3 grams of sugar per litre are allowed for BRUT Nature wines in Champagne”, Anne informed me.
We finished off with a bang, as they say. The Rosé D’Assemblage BRUT was saved for the final pour. Made with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, this alluring salmon-coloured wine was pushing traditional boundaries in how the bouquet and palate were showing themselves. Upon initial pour, the bouquet was not fruit driven. With that much Pinot Noir in the blend, I was expecting to smell strawberry fields and cherry groves off the bat. However, what I found was that there was a reversal in the characteristic of this wine. What I was getting first and foremost was the earthiness that one expects from Pinot Noir and then the fruit came forward to play. Of course, with some swirling and aeration, these notes seemed to flip again, and a more traditional Champagne ensued. Regardless, I was enjoying the experience of examining the red-berry fruits of the Pinot swimming alongside the citrus-driven Chardonnay in the blend.
What a journey.
A kind thank you to Anne Gremillet. I look forward to seeing you in Champagne in the future!