One of the true stars of the Côte des Blancs, Larmandier-Bernier’s champagnes are unique: produced biodynamically for more than 20 years, they are powerful, mineral, pure and faithful reflections of their terroir, which profoundly demonstrate the potential of low dosage and non-dosé bottlings.
Both the Larmandier and Bernier families have a long history in the Champagne region, dating back to the French revolution. Pierre Larmandier took over the direction of the family estate in 1988, moving the family’s vineyards to chemical-free by 1992 and then to complete biodynamic viticulture by 1999, with certification following in 2003.
Larmandier-Bernier’s 18ha of vineyards are located in the villages of Cramant, Chouilly, Oger, and Avize (all Grand Crus) as well as Vertus (Premier Cru). Most of the vineyards are planted to Chardonnay, with about 15% Pinot Noir. The average age of the vines is 35 years, with the oldest vines (50-70 years) – coming from massal selections made by the Larmandier and Bernier grand-fathers – found in Cramant.
The family works with the utmost respect for their terroir: gentle ploughing, so that the vines can put down deeper roots, and to preserve the life of the soils; reasonable yields; hand-picking; gentle pressing and spontaneous fermentation. Larmandier-Bernier utilise only indigenous yeasts, separate vinification for each cru, and little to no dosage for an unadulterated expression of terroir in their wines. The wines are vinified in a large, old, wood foudres or smaller Burgundian barrels, depending on each cru and vintage, with an extraordinaryly long ageing time on the lees. Reserve wines are kept in stainless steel tanks or enamel-lined tanks (a perpetual reserve started in 2004). Blending is generally done in July following harvest, and it is at this time that the Larmandiers decide whether or not their single-vineyard bottlings will be produced. The wines are bottled with no filtering or fining and then they wait patiently, for many years, in the estate’s cellars dug out of the chalk.
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