“Chardonnay’s home is in Vertus”, said Etienne Godard, the sales and marketing manager of Champagne Paul Goerg, a cooperative which was founded in 1950 and has 120 hectares in the heart of the Cotes de Blancs.
“Chardonnay is the least planted in Champagne overall and so many producers are looking for it for their best cuvées. We’re fortunate that we have it on our doorstep in abundance.”
Paul Goerg’s range includes three Blanc de Blancs, the Brut – which is a blend of the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 – the Absolu with zero dosage and its current vintage of 2005.
Even the rosé uses a substantially higher percentage of Chardonnay at 85% and Goerg’s prestige cuvée, Lady, the jewel in the Goerg crown also has 85% selected from the best vines.
“We vinify plot by plot and always hand harvest,” said Godard. “We do fermentation in Stainless Steel to bring out Chardonany’s purest characters and then after blending, we bottle and the wine sleeps in the cellars for at least three years before disgorgement. For our cuvée, Lady, it’s six to eight.
“Chardonnay needs extensive ageing to express its elegance.The balance between acidity, structure and character needs to be all there which takes time.”
Speaking about the 2016 vintage, Godard admitted it was “tough” with 20-30% less yields than last year.
“In Vertus, the quality is still there though and we can rely on the reserve wines to keep the prices stable for a smaller harvest.”
Paul Goerg’s 2007 vintage will be released next year, with 2006 not declared.
“It was another tricky one,” said Godard. “An extremely early harvest with a cold winter followed by a hot summer then an extended stretch of rain. It was the second earliest since 2003. But as we picked early, the quality is good with relatively big volumes.
“We don’t produce every year and don’t feel that we need to. We have some of the longest lead times before release but it’s better to wait and be happy with the final product.”
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