In the cellar of 13, Avenue de la République in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger exciting things are happening. The third generation has taken over the family business, determined to develop Champagne Pertois-Moriset into a producer of high rank.
We are in the heart of Champagne, in Côte des Blancs. As a string of pearls, the famous villages are laid out along the twenty kilometer long road from Epernay to the southeastern Bergères-lès-Vertus. Cramant, Avize, Oger and then Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the last home for some really reputable producers such as Salon, Guy Charlemange and not least Pierre Peters, highly appreciated in Sweden.
It is in Le Mesnil we have found our new pearl; a grower champagne from Pertois-Moriset. Of course, the focus is on Blanc de Blancs. We are in the stronghold of Chardonnay, this Monday the 14th of October.
Pertois-Moriset is a producer making champagne from grapes grown in their own vineyards. That is the meaning of the French term ”récoltant-manipulant”, abbreviated to RM, which we can find in the producer number on the labels of the bottles. The rules only admit max 5% of the grapes to be bought from someone else. Pertois-Moriset has in that respect a good foundation, being in possession of as much as 18 hectars of vineyards.
Twelve hectar are classified grand cru in Côte des Blancs, whereof six in the village of Le Mesnil. The remaining six are found further south, in the Côte Sezanne area, around the villages Barbonne, Chantemerle and Bethon. Grapes from Côte Sezanne are only used to produce the entry-level champagne, Cuvée Sélection, which is made of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.
Pertois-Moriset is a relatively young company, established when the grandfather and grandmother of Cécile Pertois, both with deep roots in the wine growing families of Côte des Blancs, got married in 1951. In 1994 the second generation took over the baton; Cécile’s father and mother Dominique Pertois and Florence Launois. Cécile started to work in the company in 2001 and from 2005 also her husband, Vincent. Today the two of them are standing at the helm, after Dominque’s retirement in August this year. Cécile is now responsible for the administration of the company and Vincent for the winemaking.
We talk to Vincent, who with great engagement describes the strategy to grow the production of Pertois-Moriset champagne. The absolute majority of the grapes has previously been sold to the big champagne houses. That is now changed and a much larger share will be directed to their own production. The current production is about 60.000 bottles per year, whereof about two thirds are exported. Sweden takes a minor share, the large markets are USA, Canada, England and Belgium.
The strategy is to develop and establish a house style, significantly increase the production and thus grow the sales of Champagne Pertois-Moriset, mainly by export. Investments have already been done in the cellar to enable the strategy.
We talk a little about the harvest, completed the week before our visit. Vincent, who had been afraid of complications due to the bad weather during the growing season and the late harvest, is satisfied. “A good harvest,” he says. “But we have not harvested this late since 1983 and 1987.” “Acidity and sugar levels are very good, but right now the fermentation is in progress; in spring we will know the outcome with certainty.”
Degorgement is made about six times per year. We consumers can see when it took place by looking at the edge of the cork where year and the number of the month have been burnt in. After degorgement the bottles will rest for at least six months before shipping.
Time to taste. We skip the entry-level champagne and go directly for three grand cru wines:
Pertois-Moriset Grand Réserve Brut, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs is a non-vintage with about 9 gram dosage. The wine we taste is based on the 2009 vintage with 20-25% reserve wine. In Sweden it can be ordered with the name Ostronakademien Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru (importer ChampagneHuset).
Nice fruity, complex nose with floral notes together with citrus and orange. Relatively light bodied with fresh acidity and nice mousse. Nice concentration of fruitiness in the palate. Good length with notes of citrus and pronounced minerality. Pure, clear, distinct! Yes, we would gladly choose this one to the Swedish oysters.
Pertois-Moriset Grand Réserve Extra Brut, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, also a non-vintage, only 4,5 gram dosage, mainly on the harvest from 2008.
Very fresh aromas of light fruits, citrus and green apples. Light as a feather in the palate, very fresh with lovely mousse, exquisite minerality and concentrated delicate fruity flavours of citrus, nectarines. Very good length. As fairies dancing in the summer morning – so fresh and elegant! We are enthralled by the lightness and select it as the favourite of the two. “A champagne to enjoy now,” recommends Vincent.
Next, the rosé, a champagne Pertois-Moriset just sell more and more of. “Ten years ago it was generally believed that rosé would be a brief fad,” says Vincent. “But that did not happen and today we sell considerably more than ten years ago.”
Pertois-Mortiset Cuvée Rosé Grand Cru. A NV with about 9 gr dosage. Made of about 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, the latter in the form of red wine bought from the village Bouzy. Vincent explains that the ambition is to make a light rosé and we can conclude that he has succeeded.
Light salmon pink. Delicate nose with aromas of wild strawberries. Slender with fresh acidity, nice mousse and fruity flavours of red berries and notes of chalk. Good length. Very stylish, all the way to the finger tips, as we would say in Swedish.
We conclude our visit. It is a little pearl we have found here in Le Mesnil, a pearl with a range of glowing, light and fresh champagne. The commitment by the young generation is at the peak, It is an exciting venture, made by Cécile and Vincent, to develop the style and expand the business. When it comes to us, we will follow the future progress of Pertois-Moriset with great interest.
Link to Champagne Pertois-Moriset web-site here.