"Francis Boulard" has a brewery in the northernmost area of Champagne called "La Petite Montagne de Reims". It is an enclave to the north of the city of Reims, surrounded by wheat fields. Their vineyards are on the hilly land that appears in front of them beyond the wheat fields.
“There are no vineyards north of this hill called Saint-Thierry, which is the northern limit of champagne production. The temperature is low, reaching -15°C in winter.”
The soil is mainly composed of siliceous lime and has a high content of sand. The sand warms the vines, supports full ripeness and adds delicacy to the wine.
“To make the champagne we aim for, we need grapes that are ripe enough to have a latent alcohol level of 10% or more. Unripe grapes harvested early cannot be used.』
The most important thing for them is the ripeness of the grapes. We use our many years of experience to select the best rootstock for the plot. To prevent the vines from becoming too strong, they are devised to bring the grapes to full ripeness over time, even in cold regions, such as by changing the tailoring according to the age of the vines.
Conversion to full biodynamic
"My previous champagne was too heavy. I feel that the introduction of biodynamics has made it more pure. It has a stronger minerality and a stronger grip in the mouth. And the flavor of the second half was born.”
Previously, three people with two brothers made wine under the name of "Raymond Boulard". However, due to differences in direction, the domaine was split in 2009. Three of them are now setting up their own domaines. The biggest reason for the split was the difference in thinking about the introduction of biodynamics. After splitting up, Francis pursues biodynamics with his daughter Delphine.
“In order to switch to biodynamic, we have to go out into the field every day and provide the minimum support in the balance of nature. Of course, the production efficiency will be worse.』
The first biodynamic conversion was completed in the Saint-Thierry plot near the Domaine. He has stopped using herbicides, grows weeds in the furrows, and plows with horses several times a year. Their field of "Saint-Thierry" is clearly darker than the surrounding soil.
“Due to the increase in microorganisms and moss in the soil, the soil has become blacker than before, even though it is sandy. This is evidence that the natural cycle has been completed and the soil has been revived.”
Currently, his daughter "Delphine" is taking the lead in biodynamic conversion in the fields of Vallée de la Marne.
Houdles, barriques and various barrels
“All grapes are fermented and aged in old Otaru barrels by division and variety. Since the grapes have power, contact with a small amount of air from the barrels will nurture the wine, and by assemblaging the individuality of each barrel, we gain complexity.”
All grapes harvested waiting for maturity to rise are fermented and aged in wooden barrels. Five types of barrels with different capacities are used, including a 205L champagne barrel, a 228L Burgundy barrel, and a 20hl foudre barrel.
Only 5-12 year old barrels are used, no new barrels are used. Foudres and Bordeaux casks are rare in conservative Champagne.
“It is also important to use different thicknesses of barrel materials. Bordeaux barrels are thin and oxidize quickly. Aging a solid Chardonnay gives it a mature flavor.”
“Burgundy barrels are thick, so oxidation progresses slowly. Suitable for Pinot Noir from delicate vineyards.”
Tight body with fine mineral elements from cool climates. The second half of the taste is the umami that comes from the original strength of the grapes. Champagne for champagne lovers.