2016 Bereche et Fils Mailly Grand Cru Extra Brut Champagne
Vincent and Raphaël work with a range of Champagne terroirs, mostly in the north of the region near Reims. The quality starts with thoughtful viticulture and low yields from a high percentage of old vines many planted in the 1960s and 1970s. Since the brothers took over the operation from their father in 2004, all chemical herbicide use was stopped and returned to labour intensive manual cultivation of their vines. In the cellar they employ long, natural fermentations and extended aging on lees. Parcels are vinified separately, and three-quarters of the production spends time in 350-litre barrels, while the reserve wines are held in demi-muids of 600 litres. Unusually, bottle aging is mostly under cork for the second fermentation (tirer à liege). The brothers believe this allows slightly more oxygen to get to the wine, resulting in Champagnes with finer bubbles and seamless texture. None of the wines go through malolactic fermentation. Bottling occurs without filtration and disgorgement is still done entirely by hand.