It’s been almost two decades since Champagne growers started making waves in the industry. However, only a few have truly stood out and gained recognition for their exceptional talent in creating uniquely expressive Champagnes. Two brothers, Raphaël and Vincent Bérêche, are among these remarkable individuals.
According to many experts, Champagne Bérêche et Fils has established itself as one of the finest Champagne producers, whether as a house or a grower. Antonio Galloni describes Raphaël and Vincent’s Champagnes as among the very best, stating that he buys their wines whenever he gets the chance. John Gilman simply declares that Bérêche is producing some of the finest wines in all of Champagne!
Although the domaine was founded in 1847, it is the innovative work of the young Bérêche brothers that has captured the attention of sommeliers, wine merchants, and connoisseurs in France and the United States. Building on the traditional Champagne-making techniques taught by their father, Jean-Pierre, Raphaël and Vincent have become insatiably curious vignerons. Their portfolio not only includes an exceptionally vibrant NV Brut Réserve, but also several micro-cuvées that brilliantly showcase different terroirs, vintages, and grape varieties.
Great Terroirs, Singular Methods
One of the key factors contributing to the fantastic complexity of Bérêche Champagnes is the variety of terroirs that make up the estate’s holdings. From the chalky Montagne de Reims in their home village of Ludes to Ormes, Petite Montagne de Reims, Mareuil le Port, and the western Vallée de la Marne, their vineyards can be found in diverse locations. In addition, they have small plots in Trépail, Mailly, and Rilly la Montagne.
To ensure the health of the soil and the fruit it produces, Bérêche stopped using chemical herbicides in 2003 and returned to manual working of their vineyards. They are now moving towards biodynamic farming in all their parcels. Despite only having nine hectares of land, the estate employs ten full-time workers to ensure that each site receives the necessary care and attention. Vincent has also established a precise protocol for all vineyard work, further enhancing the quality of their grapes.
The Bérêche vineyards are evenly divided between Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, providing a wide range of blending possibilities. Raphaël and Vincent skillfully age their wines in barrels and use cork closures, rather than crown caps, for the secondary fermentation. This approach maximizes the complexity derived from each site and results in a range of cuvées that are expressive, complex, and refined.
A Fascinating Array
The Bérêche range begins with the Brut Réserve, a harmonious blend of 70% wines from the base year and reserve wines from the previous years. Composed of one-third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, it is a pure expression of the estate’s diverse terroirs, showcasing the brothers’ exceptional skill and originality.
Following the Brut Réserve are seven captivating cuvées, all aged under cork, sought-after by Champagne connoisseurs for their unique character and complexity. Les Beaux Regards, a blanc de blancs, is sourced from two extraordinary plots of old-vine Chardonnay in Ludes. Meanwhile, Rive Gauche is a blanc de noirs made from pure Pinot Meunier, evoking the spirit of the bohemian Parisian community of the same name. The Bérêche rosé, Campania Remensis, is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that reflects the unique site and approach of its makers.
The vintage Champagne, Le Cran, showcases the best sites in Ludes and is made with equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Each year, Raphaël and Vincent aim to capture the terroir’s personality in that particular growing season. With the release of Rilly-la-Montagne in 2013 and Mailly in 2014, they began expanding on the idea of single-village wines. Each wine aims to showcase the unique character of its village, resulting in utterly distinct Champagnes.
Arguably the most unique Champagne in their lineup is Reflet d’Antan. It is made from a perpetual reserve of 600-liter barrels started by Raphaël and Vincent’s father, Jean-Pierre, in 1985. Each year, two-thirds of the wine in each barrel is drawn off and replaced with the latest vintage. The result is a complex Champagne that seamlessly combines richness, texture, depth, freshness, and lift.
Each micro-cuvée offers a unique expression of the domaine’s terroirs, further emphasized by the artisanal methods used in their production. Each parcel of vines is vinified and aged separately in barrels with ambient yeasts. To balance richness and depth with bright acidity, malolactic fermentation is avoided. The wines are aged under cork to enhance their character and aromatic complexity. Finally, each bottle is disgorged by hand and minimally dosed to preserve the purity of the wine’s expression.
For more information about Bérêche et Fils and their exceptional Champagnes, visit the Ambassadeur Hotel website. It’s a journey through terroir, tradition, and innovation, with each bottle telling a story of passion and expertise.