Michel Drappier decants a magnum of his vintage champagne
There seems to be a campaign on to decant champagne. I was at a lunch recently with Michel Drappier where he was presenting his unsulfured champagnes and the conversation got around to the idea of decanting champagne. Now, as readers of The Winesleuth know, I’m a big fan of decanting wines and truth be told, in order to make jeroboams or anything bigger, the champagne has to be decanted into the bottles but seeing as I don’t get to drink jeroboams very often, the issue of decanting never really comes up.
Did you know that the practice of decanting really started with champagne? When champagne was first made they had to decant it to get rid of all the dead yeast, this was obviously before they came up with riddling the wine. But anyway, decanting fell out of favour over the years and now hardly anyone decants champagne anymore. Michel however, believes that decanting champagne, esp. vintage champagne is good for the wine. If you consider it, why shouldn’t you decant vintage champagne? It’s been in the bottle for years and the entire point of decanting is to let the wine breathe, why would champagne be any different? And don’t worry, the bubbles will still be there as long as you slowly and carefully decant the champagne but you shouldn’t let it sit around too long in the decanter. Michel has developed his own decanter and decanter base for his wine. I made a short video of Michel decanting a magnum of his 1995 vintage champagne here.
Over lunch at Pied a Terre, a lovely French restaurant on Charlotte St, Michel told me about how the house has moved to making wines with very little sugar and no sulfur. I asked him why no sulfur and it turns out that he and his father are both highly allergic to it! Michel wants to make low sugar or zero dosage wines because he wants to showcase the purity of fruit in his wines and thinks that is the best way to go about doing it. I tasted through his wines and even the ones that did have a dosage would be considered to be quite dry. They were however, fresh and clean. The older vintages showing very well with lots of those bready, yeasty, nutty notes I love.
I like the philosophy of Drappier, making champagne that is really a natural wine, as much as I dislike that term, they are trying to make wines that are true to the terroir without being too interventionist, little to no sugar, no sulfur, just the purity of the fruit and the minerality of the terroir. Despite all this, Michel Drappier wants us to buy his champagne because it’s well made and tastes good which his champagnes are, they certainly do tick all the boxes for me.