Champagne Pierre Péters

Champagne, champagne France

Pierre Péters, one of Champagne’s most renowned growers, owns 82 plots over nearly 20 hectares of vineyard, all of which are managed sustainably. Sixteen hectares lie within the Côte des Blancs, mainly in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, where the domaine is based, as well as the other prized villages of Avize, Cramant, Oger and Vertus. Despite the short distances separating these villages, where the soils are rich in chalk, the plots display clear differences - from limestone to argile à silex (a specific mix of clay with flint) - which create very different styles of wines. The domaine also owns three hectares of vineyards near Sézanne and one in the Côte des Bars. The domaine produces exclusively Blanc de Blancs champagnes, which are generally rated as being among the finest produced in the region.

The estate is now run by Rodolphe Péters, a sixth-generation grower who studied oenology and business before taking over the domaine in 2007. His father had involved him in the assemblage since 2000, so he could learn about the complexity of dealing with so many base wines. The fame of the domaine has been derived from Rodolphe’s desire to build upon what he learned from his father in both the winery and the vineyards. Everything Rodolphe does in the vineyards is aimed at letting the grapes and the place of origin speak for themselves, while he accepts, as a winemaker, a ‘supporting role’.

Rodolphe uses his education and experience to apply a light touch (or ‘minimal intervention’) in the winery. For example, he employs the gentle pressure and steady flow from a pneumatic press to filter naturally as much solid matter as possible from the must. True to his belief that “a good winemaker must listen to his raw materials”, Rodolphe trusts the exceptional soils of the Côte des Blancs and specifically of Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger to bring tension in his wines.

The wines are fermented in stainless steel and remain in tank on their lees (with regular tastings) until the assemblage. Reserve wines come from a ‘perpetual reserve’ started on Rodolphe’s initiative in the late 1990s, based on the 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1996 harvests. These reserve wines are stored in a combination of large foudres, concrete, stainless steel and cement vats, which give real diversity to the perpetual reserve. Every year, the reserve is blended with the base harvest (50/50) for the assemblage then put back into the various vessels until the following year.

The Cuvée de Réserve is Pierre Péters’ signature wine, and as such is a blend of all the plots of the domaine. It includes 50% reserve wines and spends at least two years on lees. The nose is powerful, displaying saline and flint aromas at first, followed by white fruits. The palate has an elegant texture with vibrant notes of hazelnuts and fresh almonds.

The Extra Brut and Grande Réserve are made with base wines from Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, Oger, Cramant and Avize (75-80% of the blend) and a selection of the best reserve wines (20-25% of the blend). The Extra Brut receives a dosage of 2 g/l, whereas the Grande Réserve receives 5 g/l. The former has a floral characterand is a purer style of blanc de blancs, while the latter is more opulent and calls for food such as risotto or rich fish dishes.

The Réserve Oubliée is made solely with reserve wines, selected by Rodolphe from the best parcels of his perpetual reserve then bottled on the cork, which he believes results in a better integrated mousse. Exclusive to restaurants and hotels, this cuvée shows freshness and tension despite a more evolved character thanks to the age of the ‘perpetual reserve’.

Les Chétillons is the domaine’s celebrated single-vineyard. It is sourced from three parcels of old vines within the Les Chétillons ‘lieu-dit’, which lies on an east-northeast facing hillside in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger. The soil here is rich in limestone, resulting in very powerful and long-lived wines.

Les Montjolys single-vineyard cuvée comes from seven parcels within the only site in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger where argile à silex is found. The deep clay soils give Les Montjolys its richer, smokier character and more rounded, creamy texture. It is usually more approachable at an earlier stage than Les Chétillons.

 

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