Chartogne-Taillet is the only grower-producer of champagne in the village of Merfy, an area north of Reims. Many would consider the area to be less consequential than more prominent villages. But the young and passionate Alexandre Chartogne, descendent of the house’s founder, uses organic and biodynamic practices to elicit the very best fruit from his vines. The wines he creates are complex and terroir-driven.
37 Grand Rue, Merfy. +33 3 26 03 10 17
The Chartogne-Taillet wines are each distinct, and yet they share a minerality and vinosity that can be attributed to Alexandre’s hard work in the vineyard. The fruit achieves excellent levels of ripeness, and therefore the amount of dosage is often very low. Helpfully, a lot of detailed information about the blend, disgorgement and dosage is listed on the back of each label.
Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte-Anne
The blend varies depending on the base year, but is usually mostly Chardonnay with Pinot Noir, and sometimes Meunier. The average age of the vines is 35 years. Vinified in stainless steel, only the Chardonnay goes through malolactic fermentation, not the Pinot Noir. 20% of reserve wine from two vintages is used in the blend. Aged for two and a half years on the fine lees, the wine then rests for four months after disgorgement. Dosage varies between 4.5-7g/L.
Chartogne-Taillet Le Rose
A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that varies depending on the vintage, but without reserve wine. The colour is attained through the blending of a small portion of Pinot Noir from the ‘Les Orizeaux’ vineyard. Vinified in stainless steel tanks without filtration. Dosage is 5-6g/L.
Chartogne-Taillet Vintage Brut
A classic blend of around 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Vinified in stainless steel tanks, the wine enjoys a long ageing period on the lees before disgorgement.
Chartogne-Taillet Heurtebise Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay from 40-year-old vines in a single vineyard in Merfy, ‘Les Heurtebises’. The wine spends 60 months ‘sur latte’ (in bottle, on its side) before disgorgement. Dosage varies according to the vintage requirements.
Chartogne-Taillet Les Barres Extra Brut
100% Meunier. Alexandre first made this wine in 2006, using ungrafted vines untouched by phylloxera and with an average age of 55 years from the Merfy vineyard of ‘Les Barres’. First fermentation occurs with natural yeasts and the wine is vinified in old oak barrels. The dosage is a low 0-4.5g/L.
Chartogne-Taillet Les Orizeaux Extra Brut
100% Pinot Noir. Another single-vineyard wine from the highly praised ‘Les Orizeaux’ vineyard, where the vines also have an average age of 55 years. Vinified in old oak barrels with natural yeasts, and unfiltered.
Chartogne-Taillet Les Alliees Extra Brut
100% Meunier from a single vineyard, ‘Les Alliees’, in Merfy. The wine is fermented in old oak barrels with natural yeasts and undergoes malolactic fermentation naturally, before being aged for 60 months sur latte.
Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Fiacre
The ‘tete de cuvee’ (most prestigious wine) of the house, this is usually a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay comes from the red sand of the renowned vineyard of ‘Chemin de Reims’, where the vines are 30-years-old, and the Pinot Noir from the old vines of ‘Les Orizeaux’. The dosage is 6-7g/L.
The Chartogne family settled in Merfy in 1870, and incredibly there is documentary evidence that the Taillets were growing vines in the area as early as 1683. Not long after the end of World War I, Marie Chartogne and Etienne Taillet were married, and the house of Chartogne-Taillet was formed. In 1978, control of the house passed to Philippe Chartogne and his wife Elizabeth. Today it is their son, Alexandre, at the helm of the family business. He is the only recoltant manipulant (grower-producer) in the village.
Alexandre - whom Terry Theise describes as “the most passionately curious vigneron I know, not only in Champagne, but just maybe anywhere” - is fascinated by his family’s winegrowing history. This may be why he is continuing a family tradition that dates back to the 1700s, when his ancestors began recording details about the harvest, the weather, the conditions of the vineyards and all sorts of relevant commentary on the day-to-day operations.
The Chartogne-Taillet vineyards consist of 30 parcels, just over 11 hectares in total, comprised mainly of older vines averaging 25 years of age. The vineyards are located in the Montagne de Reims village of Merfy (7km north of Reims), where the house is based, and in the neighbouring villages of Saint-Thierry and Chenay.
While the vineyards of Merfy are not classified as the best in the region, they do have a unique makeup of clay and sand soils lying overtop chalk. This means that the vines are “living in two different environments”, as Alexandre likes to say. He works to keep the vineyards and soils as healthy and alive as possible, and is proud that many of the vine roots delve deeply into the soils, sometimes as far as 20 meters down.
In order to achieve these thriving vineyards, Alexandre uses organic farming and biodynamic techniques he learned while doing an internship with Anselme Selosse early in his career.
In the cellar, each parcel is vinified separately, mainly in stainless steel tanks. But Alexandre increasingly uses neutral oak barriques as well as concrete ‘eggs’ for his fermentations.