George Laval, Cumières, Champagne

this place is not easy to find, the road is really small You have seen the village of Cumières. We’re in the center of the Champagne region our family has produced wine since 1694 there are archives that say that we were here at that time Maybe even before, passed on from father to son so this means having a great knowledge of our terroir and our lieu dit our property is just 2.5 hectares (6.1 acres) and we try to do our best this means that we try to preserve the old vineyards the older the vineyards the deeper the roots go and you have more complexity in the grape we have vineyards planted in 1930 from my grandfather and we also have younger ones, of course and when we plant a new plant we take it from an old vineyard to have more diversity in the aromas (so no clone selection) we don’t touch the soil. We just might use a brush cutter to cut the vegetation between the vines and if we work on the soil we only use the horse (no machines) we do everything by hand even the small trimming of the plant we might use some machines if, after the holiday, if the weather is bad, otherwise everything is done by hand we have been completely organic for a long time. we never used herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic chemicals we work on organic culture until 1971 that was the year that my father first heard about organic culture, and we decided to follow him there were 7 winemakers at that time that decided to work in organic you already visited some of them like Ardinat my father George Laval, Yves Ruffin in Avernay and Jacques Beaufort in Ambonnay here we have the press we work with a press of 2000kg that allows us to isolate and fractionize all we want to fractionize so the grapes are a function of the terror, the lieu-dit, of the grape variety, of the age of the vineyard and of the taste of the grape so I can obtain what I want from the grape So we put 2000kg here and the juice pass from here there are more compartments the only thing I add to the grape is some sulphites, but in really small quantities, and some times not at all it happens rarely, but sometimes I don’t add sulphites at all In any case I put just a small quantity to avoid wine oxidation When I say small quantity I mean less than 10mg per liter this means that after the pumping and the fermentation there’s no more sulphites sometimes I love wine without sulphites and sometimes there are some wines that I think they should add some sulphites It really depends on the skill of the winemaker I’ll show you the roots of the vineyard these come from two close parcels It is exactly the same terroir (soil) two parcels of 200-300 square meters, so really small This was planted in the ’50s And has received chemical treatments and herbicides While this one was planted in the 30s by my grandfather without chemicals, they worked on the soil and you can see the roots are different on that plant the grapes were really good and fruity and even the grapes on this one were really good but they also had a nice spicy note as a result of the minerality of the soil so what characterizes our wines is that we never chaptalize (adding sugar during fermentation) leaving wines with a nice mineral finish where the other we have a short finish, some acidity, a lot of fruit and nothing else. The wineries that don’t do a malolactic fermentation are obliged to stop the fermentation and add some sulfites at least 80mg of sulfites per liter and then they have to filter the wine to eliminate the bacteria I actually don’t care about malolactic fermentation because what gives freshness to my wines is not the acidity but the minerality you’ve seen the roots before. when the roots stay on the top, in order to have more persistent wines… maybe in that case you need more acidity and we’ll have aromas of fruits, acididty… usually too excessive and the wines are not really complex and then if you have too much acidity you might have to add sugar in the disgorgement to balance the wine but here we have a natural balance in the wine they are fresh with a really long finish, not due to the acidity so we don’t need to add any sugar after and all the work is not done in the cellar but in the vineyard with the right number of people in order to make the best possible here, in the cellar, we let things do. Of course we oversee we check the barrels every week we really take care of the wine even after the blendings, but nothing else just tasting, checking and bottling and that’s it usually the wine stay in the barrels for 10 months (12 months sometimes) for example on 2012 it was 12 months the barrels I use here… the oldest is from the 1994 and some years I buy new barrels for example in 2013 I bought one barrel because I don’t buy used barrels. the only wine that was in these barrels was mine so I buy barrels from Bordeaux or Burgundy The new barrel comes from Champagne from local trees The reason why I work with barrels… is not to have oaky aromas but to have a fermentation in small volumes without high temperatures to have a really easy natural clarification and also to have the micro-oxygenation between the wine and the wood but surely not oaky flavours that’s why I buy new barrels one at a time and not even every year and after the bottling all the remuage is done by hand this is a new cellar because it was done in 2013 it doesn’t have the same soul, but it’s practical this is the lieu dit ‘Les Chenes’ it is just 150 mt outside of the village of Cumières we’re really in the historical terroir of Champagne we have 20-30cm os soil and then only chalk, you can feel it when you taste it, so persistant this is the chalk (typical soil of Champagne) you can feel it in the wine. The roots reach it

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