Described by Michael Edwards in The Finest Wines of Champagne as “one of the most courageous and creative of Champagne’s many growers”, Jerome Prevost epitomises artisan champagne. He produces just one wine (with a few supplementary experiments) from a single vineyard, single vintage and single variety (Meunier). Having learned much from his famous mentor, Anselme Selosse, Jerome has become one of the most adored and respected growers in Champagne.
2 Rue Petite Montagne, Gueux +33 3 26 03 48 60
For the first twelve years, Jerome produced just one wine, La Closerie Cuvee Les Beguines, from single-vineyard, single-vintage, Meunier. Then, in 2000, he began experimenting. He made a wine called Une Fois Pour Tout (‘Once and for All’), which was the identical wine as Les Beguines, but aged for an additional year in barrel before bottling. He had not set out to make a superior wine, simply one of a different character, and so to make this point, he priced the new wine at one euro more than Les Beguines.
Then, in 2003, he produced a similar wine, d’Ailleurs, which was also bottled a year after Les Beguines and was assembled from an arbitrary selection of barrels.
Most recently, in 2007, Jerome made his first rose. The colour came from a red wine he had produced from vines suffering from ‘court-noue’, or fanleaf virus. Court-noue inhibits flowering, thereby concentrating the juice and phenolics in the reduced bunches. The wine, as is his fashion, was released two years later in 2009, in a remarkably small quantity – just 2,800 bottles.
The wines of Jerome Prevost are difficult to summarise as they vary widely depending on the vintage and age. However, you can expect to be met with powerful aromatics, alluring spice and great verve and length. They are exceptionally gastronomic and a perfect choice with food.
Jerome Prevost may not have planned to be a winemaker (he’s more of an artist), but when he inherited a couple of hectares of vines from his grandmother in 1987 at the age of 21, he turned his artistic eye to grapes. Since that time, he has devoted his adult life to producing a champagne masterpiece.
For the first eleven years, he sold his sold grapes to the co-operative. Then in 1998, with the encouragement and helping hand of his good friend Anselme Selosse, Jerome started making his own wines. Unlike the traditional blended wines of the region, he focused on the grapes from one vineyard, Les Beguines, from one vintage and from one grape variety, the unsung Meunier. Early on, the wine was made in the Selosse winery in Avize, as Jerome didn’t yet have his own space. Since the 2003 vintage, La Closerie has been produced in the garage of Jerome’s cottage in Gueux.
The love of painting, sculpting, photography and poetry has stayed with Jerome, and occasionally he is joined in the vineyards by visiting artists. He has also arranged several wine and poetry events with distinguished poets. Once when speaking to an Australian wine merchant, Jerome said: “I like words because they are like vines, planted in the soils of culture.” (bibendum.com.au) Poignant words indeed.
The small village of Gueux, where Jerome’s 2.2 hectares are planted, lies 12 kilometers to the west of Reims. The soil in this particular site is full of minute marine fossils deposited over 45 million years ago, when the area was under the ocean. This sandy, calcareous mixture imparts a very specific character to the fruit and the wines.
Jerome, like his mentor Anselme Selosse, uses biodynamic practices in the vineyards. He favours ploughing to ventilate the soils, which helps to keep the vines (planted in the 1960s) healthy and prosperous.
Within his vineyard parcels are a few rows of co-planted grapes where Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grow amongst the Meunier. It will be interesting to see if he decides to experiment with these varieties in the future.
The wines are vinified naturally. Fermentation starts with indigenous yeasts and occurs mainly in barriques, but a few 600L demi-muids are also used. The wines are not fined, filtered or cold-stabilized, and the dosage is usually less than 4 grams per litre. All the bottles are disgorged at the same time, two years after the harvest. Therefore, even though all the fruit comes from a single vintage, the bottles are not permitted to list the vintage date as the wines have not aged for the required minimum of 3 years. However, there is a helpful code on each label to let drinkers know which vintage each bottle comes from.