Champagne Moutard is about to release the first blend of all six permitted Champagne grape varieties for over 100 years.
Only 6000 bottles of the ‘Cuvée aux 6 Cepages’ will be released. The varieties are the classic Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Arbane. The last three comprise only 0.02% of the total vines planted in Champagne.
Owner Francois Moutard, inspired by old books that referred to the six-grape blend, has been planning his new cuvee since 1992, but initially he didn’t have all of the alternative varietals.
‘My father planted Arbane in 1952 – there used to be a lot of it in the area – and I had Pinot Blanc, which we’ve blended with Chardonnay for a brut Blanc de Blancs. But I didn’t have any Petit Meslier,’ he told decanter.com.
Moutard, who already produces a 100% Arbane ‘Cuvée Arbane Vieilles Vignes’, says the grape produces a very fine mousse and imparts an unprecedented finesse to the Champagne.
A spokesperson for the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) confirmed that according to AC regulations, the secondary grapes – which have fallen out of favour due to their sensitivity to frost and other factors – cannot make up new area under vine, but can replace other vines that are ripped up.
‘I don’t see this as a major trend, almost nobody has the room to plant these other grapes. If they were abandoned, it was for a good reason,’ the spokesperson said.
Moutard will probably produce a maximum of 10,000 bottles. He says he is lucky enough to have the sensitive vines in just the right location for their character. ‘Many of us in the region are striving to raise quality standards, but each person must choose his own strategy.’
Moutard Père et Fils is a family-owned producer, grower and négociant, has been making Champagne in Buxeuil, Aube, in the extreme Southeast of the appelation, since the 17th century.
Written by Maggie Rosen