A Visit to Champagne Charlot Tanneux, a Biodynamic Champagne Producer

Feb 19, 14 A Visit to Champagne Charlot Tanneux, a Biodynamic Champagne Producer

Every time I go to Champagne, I discover yet another interesting producer. This time while visiting my friend Caro (who lives in Hautvillers), she suggested we visit small biodynamic producer, Champagne Charlot-Tanneux.

Vincent in the cellar with Betty

Vincent in the cellar with Betty

The winemaker of Charlot, Vincent, is marked as one of the up and coming winemakers of Champagne so I was anticipating our visit to the vineyard and cellars. It was a rainy and windy afternoon as we drove up to the house and Vincent suggested we visit the vineyards in Epernay which are protected from the wind.  We drove out to have a look at his biodynamic vineyards, full of wild garlic, violets and covered in grass. Vincent converted entirely to biodynamic practices 5 years ago and is wines are now certified by Demeter. All of his wines are biodynamic but he only labels half as such and the other half he sells as organic.

biodynamic vines (unpruned)

biodynamic vines (unpruned)

After checking out the vines we headed back to the cellar to taste a few 2013 vin clairs from the barrel. At the time we visited, the wines were almost done with their fermentation, a few having finished already. Vincent showed us wines from various terroirs amongst his vineyards. We tried two different barrels, same vineyard but two different terroirs. There was indeed a noticeable difference, the vines on chalk and clay showing a lot more minerality.

winethief in action

winethief in action

We also tasted a blend in barrel that was a co-fermentation of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. It was already showing much complexity and I almost thought that it could be drunk on its now, it was so tasty.

Vincent likes to do this his way and makes only wines that will please him. He won’t change his winemaking style to suit the buyers. His opinion is that if they don’t like his wine, there are others who will.

After the barrel tasting, we went upstairs to taste a couple of roses. Vincent likes to make his rose saignee which means they are left to macerate for up to 36 hours before being pressed. He uses 100% pinot meunier from old vines for his rose. Both roses we tried were spicy with quite a strong backbone of tannin running through them. These are definitely not delicate and refined rose champagnes. They want you to know that they are there and not to be messed around with, that’s for sure!

Vincent showing off manure used to fill the cowhorn and sprayed on the vines 3 times a year

Vincent showing off manure used to fill the cowhorn and sprayed on the vines 3 times a year, a biodynamic practice

old barrels in the cellar

old barrels in the cellar

I found Vincent’s champagnes to have very distinct characters, not refined and elegant but masculine and full of life. They certainly are a change from the big houses of Champagne but as Vincent says, if you don’t like his wines, too bad…He’ll keep on making his wines, his way.

Champagne Charlot Tannaux capsule

Champagne Charlot Tanneux capsule

2 Comments

  1. Anders Stromberg /

    Fantastic champagnes,love your touch of details.

    Anders

    • Thanks, Anders. There are not many certified biodynamic producers in Champagne (only 21 at last count) but there are a lot who are organic, sustainable or in the process of becoming biodynmamic. I’ve had the pleasure to visit and drink many of their champagnes and there is a definite difference. Roederer is so far the only big House to have biodynamic champagne but I’m sure that other houses may be following suit soon.

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