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Champagne Dhondt-Grellet: Dans un Premier Temps

“Bursting with aromas of freshly baked bread, green apple, pear, warm biscuits and wet stones, Dhondt’s NV Extra-Brut Dans un Premier Temps (2019) is medium to full-bodied, broad and textural, with a gourmand, enveloping core of fruit, lively acids and a long, sapid finish. A layered, vinous wine, animated by a pinpoint mousse, it’s the finest rendition of this cuvée to date. Lovers of vinous, characterful, artisanal Champagne will want to make a special effort to track down these brilliant wines. (Drink 2022 to 2033)”

The Wine Advocate (Aug 22)

Extra Brut
Champagne Dhondt-Grellet

In Bond
per case (6 x 75cl)

(Average 45 years old vines)
Chardonnay (50%) from Sezanne
Pinot Noir (30%) from Avenay Val d’Or
Old vine Pinot Meunier (20%) from Cuis

70% from the 2019 Vintage
30% “Reserve Perpetuelle”; their solera dating back to 1986

Between 2g/l to 2.5g/l.

This is the first cuvée of Adrien’s range and the largest. The intention? To be an expression of all 6 hectares of his holdings spread across Sezanne, Cuis, and Avenay val d’Or.

The Chardonnay receives 50% fermentation in barrel, and the rest in tank.
30% of the Pinot Noir is tank-fermented (Avenay Val d’Or in Vallée de la Marne), and 20% tank-fermented Pinot Meunier (from old vines in Cuis).
In a few years all of their vins clairs will be barrel fermented.

In 1986, Eric Dhondt and Edith Grellet decided to stop selling off their grapes to negociants and started Dhondt-Grellet. Their focus on biodynamic farming has translated into vivid champagnes from great parcels across the Côte des Blancs. Their son Adrien is now at the helm, together with his sister Alice. The influence of Burgundy is evident in the texture and vinosity – Adrien cites the great white winemakers of Burgundy, Coche-Dury, Vincent Dancer and Jean-Yves Bizot among his inspirations. With a very clear vision for the future of Champagne and bolstered by a mentorship from Anselme Selosse who helped Adrien to set off in the right direction; Adrien has elevated his family’s wines to a brand new level, focusing on chardonnay and terroir. The quality of Adrien’s cuvées was recognised when he was voted Winemaker of the Year 2017 in the Trophées Champenois.

The domaine is around 6ha of Grand Cru and 1er Cru vines, with an average age of 40 years. Adrien uses organic & biodynamic practices but he is not seeking certification. His philosophy is to have a living soil with a healthy balance between microbial life and the vine. He does not use herbicides or insecticides. The soils are plowed and composting is made at the domaine.

Adrien uses biodynamic practices but he is not seeking certification, preferring to work in the spirit of what he calls “peasant viticulture,” using no synthetic products, no herbicides or insecticides, enriching his soils with homemade compost and, as of Spring 2021, plowing each plot with his horse, Thor. His philosophy is to have a living soil with a healthy balance between microbial life and the vine. In the vines, there’s a lot of manual work: he prunes short and debuds severely to limit yields and produce ripe, concentrated fruit at harvest time. He often cites inspiration from great Burgundy estates by practicing plot selection.

In the cellar, Dhondt has moved almost completely to barrel fermentation with ambient yeasts, filling his fûts after a very short six hours’ settling (or débourbage) and adding minimal sulfur dioxide. The vins clairs spend eight months on the lees before tirage without cold stabilization, filtering or fining. During those eight months of élevage, the wines are topped up when Dhondt deems it is appropriate judicious, “about every month and a half, I’d say, but I decide whether to top up—and whether to perform bâtonnage—by tasting.” As of 2020 Adrien is now uses almost exclusively oak barrels for his wines with the exception of the Dans Un Premier Temps, where he uses a combination of barrel and inox.

At Wine Source, we are fortunate to have enjoyed supporting Adrien along his path to stardom, and today we are excited to offer an allocation to those who are still unaccustomed to his ground-breaking wines. We have a very limited number of cases available to purchase from the latest ex-cellar release.