Raphael Bereche, the fifth generation of the family to work in the business, took the reins as winemaker from his father in 2004, and is swiftly making his mark. The 9.5 hectares of vineyards are mainly organic, with some portions farmed biodynamically. The second fermentation takes place under cork instead of crown caps to give the wines added depth of character, and the hand disgorgement that follows is considered a worthy undertaking.
Le Craon de Ludes, Ludes +33 3 26 61 13 28
The Bereche wines seem to come into their own with each release – they are complex yet balanced, rich and structured.
Bereche Brut Reserve
Approximately equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, with 30% reserve wines. Around 20% of the blend is vinified in barrel, the rest in enamel tanks. Fermentation starts spontaneously. The wines age for 24 months. This is the highest dosage of the range at 8g/L.
Bereche Extra Brut Reserve
Approximately 50% Pinot Noir and 25% each of Chardonnay and Meunier, with up to 30% of reserve wines. The Extra Brut ages for 3 years, a year longer than the Brut Reserve. The dosage is only 2g/L.
Bereche Les Beaux Regards
100% Chardonnay. The grapes for this blanc de blancs come from the ‘Les Beaux Regards’ vineyard in Ludes, first planted by Raphael’s great-grandfather in 1902. However, the vineyard does not yield enough grapes to reach the production level, so Chardonnay from Mareuil de Port is also used in the blend. Dosage 3g/L.
Bereche Reflet d’Antan
An unusual wine, made in a style similar to a solera. With approximately equal parts of all three main champagne grapes, the wine is comprised of a portion from the current vintage, to which is added wine from demi-muids that has been ageing since 1985. These large oak barrels are then replenished each year with the new vintage, creating a perpetual blend. This method underpins the poetical name of the wine, which translates as ‘Reflections of Yesteryear’. Dosage 6g/L.
Bereche Rive Gauche
100% Meunier. The grapes for this wine come from the single vineyard ‘Les Misy’ near Mareuil de Port, and were planted in 1969. The age of the vines helps this wine to achieve a degree of precision and character. The first release was made with the 2007 harvest. The wine was fermented in barrels with natural yeasts, and spent 8 months on the lees without stirring. Ageing in the cellar is a minimum of 30 months. The dosage is a low 3-4g/L.
Bereche Le Cran
Formerly called L’Instant, the Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) for this wine come from old vines on two mid-slope vineyards. The wine is made every year regardless of whether it was a good or bad vintage because Raphael intends that the wine should paint a consecutive picture of the terroir. Fermented in barrels of differing sizes, the wine ages in the cellar for at least five years. The bottles are hand disgorged and the wine has very low dosage.
Bereche L’Instant Rose No. 1
An exclusive wine made only once, which acted as the model for the newer cuvee, Campania Remensis. The L’Instant Rose No. 1 is a blend of Le Cran with the addition of red wine from the ‘Le Champs des Dames’ vineyard in Ludes. The wine was based on the 2006 vintage and was released in 2009 without dosage.
Bereche Campania Remensis
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier in approximately equal parts. All the grapes are from the village of Ormes in the Montagne de Reims.
Bereche Vieilles Vignes Selectionnees
Formerly known as ‘Vintage’, this wine is a blend of 40% each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and 20% of Meunier.
Originally from Hungary, the Bereche family came to Champagne in the early 19th century, settling in Craon de Ludes, where they established their house in 1847. At the time the estate, run by brothers Leon and Albert, consisted of only 2.5 hectares. It was not until the 1950s, when Pierre Bereche married a vigneron’s daughter, that the vineyard holdings doubled in size. More vineyards were added in the mid 1990s, and today they have a total of 9.5 hectares.
Today the village of Ludes enjoys Premier Cru status. It is there where Jean-Pierre and his sons Raphael and Vincent, the fourth and fifth generations of the family, produce their wines, which are quickly gaining attention and acclaim.
Jean-Pierre oversees the production and is involved with determining the final blends, Vincent is the viticulturalist and takes care of their vineyards, while Raphael is the winemaker. He started working with his father in 2004 at the age of 24 during which time he has learned a great deal and is now starting to put his own touch on the range of wines.
Up until 2013, Bereche had been a recoltant manipulant, but that year they changed to a negociant manipulant, allowing them to purchase grapes and increase production of their Brut Reserve by about 20%. All the other wines in the range are made with estate-grown grapes. This status also gives them permission to source grapes for a second label, a negociant range called ‘Crus Selectionnes’, under the name Raphael et Vincent Bereche.
The Bereche vines are located in two main areas, the Montagne de Reims and the Vallee de la Marne. The vineyards in the Montagne de Reims include the area around the house itself, Craon de Ludes and Ludes, as well as Ormes and the Premier Cru villages of Chigny les Roses and Trepail. In the Vallee de la Marne, their vines are found in Mareuil le Port and Festigny.
When it comes to how they farm their vines, the family is turning more and more towards a natural approach. As of 2004, they have discontinued the use of chemical fertilizers altogether. They utilize a mixture of conventional, organic and biodynamic techniques, always with the health of the vines at the forefront of their concern. A portion of their vineyards was converted to biodynamic farming in 2007.
In the winery, the parcels are vinified separately, with fermentation occurring slowly and spontaneously. Around 60% of the production spends time in enameled tanks, and the remaining 40% rests in neutral oak barrels sourced from Burgundy’s Cote d’Or region.
Raphael prefers that his wines do not go through malolactic fermentation. To stop it from occurring naturally, instead of using sulfur, he moves the barrels outside to allow the cold winter temperatures to suppress the malolactic process – an old-fashioned technique, but an effective one nonetheless. The wines will age between 2-6 years in the cellar before release.
Another unusual and labor-intensive practice they employ is to use cork for the secondary fermentation in bottle, rather than crown capsules. The family believes that cork at this stage adds a level of intricacy and sophistication that simply cannot be obtained with a capsule. This means that the disgorgement of each bottle has to be done by hand, but it’s a labour of love Raphael is more than happy to do.