Founded in 1894, Champagne Agrapart & Fils has rightfully emerged as one of the finest grower estates in the Côte des Blancs. Pascal Agrapart is the current generation overseeing the estate, making wines since 1984 when he took over from his father, Pierre, and after studying oenology in Bordeaux, and at home in Avize. When he arrived to the house there were 4 hectares of vines, which he has now grown to 12 hectares, 9 of those rooted in grand cru villages of Avize, Cramant, Oiry and Oger. His father never used herbicides or chemical pesticides, and though Pascal is uninterested in being labelled organic or biodynamic, he follows the same naturalist practices, focusing on the soils. He farms 90% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Noir.
Each winemaking element is designed to preserve the detail of the vineyard. Sensitive use of the large (600L) old oak for vinification and ageing of finer parcels for vintage wines, and non-vintage reserves are not for woody flavour, but oxidation. He buys five-year-old barrels from Burgundy and the Loire and maintains them until they’re very old.
Wild yeasts from the vineyards further draw out the character of each site. Full malolactic fermentation is encouraged, which removes the need for sterile filtration and high levels of sulphur dioxide preservative. The results are usually clean and precise.
Long ageing on the lees for a minimum of three years for non-vintage and seven for vintage cuvées necessitates a stock of 360,000 bottles to sustain an annual production of 90,000. Significant production for hand-riddling!
Most of Agrapart’s seven cuvées are blanc de blancs, with pinot in his entry level wine, and a single-field blend of six grape varieties. Low dosages are added throughout.