Today, it is rare to meet a representative of the founding family of a Champagne house. At ProWein, one could make this experience three times. Only a few metres separated the stands of Alice Paillard (Champagne Bruno Paillard), François Philipponnat (Champagne Philipponnat) and Florent Roques-Boizel (Champagne Boizel). Perhaps it is no wonder that the three houses are closely intertwined. After all, Boizel and Philipponnat belong to the Lanson-BCC group, which in turn is headed by Bruno Paillard as director. To understand this constellation, one would have to delve deeply into the history of Champagne. I will limit myself here to Boizel, noting that Evelyne Boizel and her husband Christophe Roques exchanged the majority shares of their company in 1994 for a stake in the (then still small) Champagne Group of Bruno Paillard and Philippe Baijot (the B of BCC stands for Boizel). The management is still in the hands of the family.
The presentation at ProWein 2023
The wisdom of this decision is more evident today than ever before. The maison from Épernay owns only seven hectares of vines. So the majority of the grapes come from long-term contract growers. Today, after the purchase of numerous small inox tanks, the vinification of the base wines is very individual. In addition, different wooden barrels were acquired for reserve wines in order to have some “spice” in the assemblage. The duration of the bottle fermentation in the eleven degree Celsius cold cellars, which ensure a very slow second fermentation with a correspondingly fine mousse, is quite long. The dosage is moderate to low. The information about the disgorgement date and other details on the back of the bottle is exemplary.
At ProWein 2023, Florent Roques-Boizel presented me with an initial overview of the current range. At the base, this includes the three vintageless cuvées Brut Réserve, Rosé Absolu (with red still wine from Les Riceys) and Ultime Zéro, which was first presented in 2008 without dosage. An impeccable entry, with the Ultime Zéro (50% Pinot noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier) standing out for its wonderfully creamy mousse created after five years of yeast ageing (90 p.). I will talk about the new Terroir line as well as Gand Vintage and Joyau in a moment.
However, Florent Roques-Boizel brought two extraordinary ” treasures” with him to the fair. Firstly, the Collection Trésor 1990 Extra Brut (which I have already written about here). And then the Cuvée sous bois 2008 (75% Pinot noir from Bouzy and Verzenay and 25% Chardonnay from Chouilly). Presented for the first time in 1990, 2008 is only the fourth vintage. With only 3 grams of dosage and fermented completely in wood, this cuvée for connoisseurs: powerful and complex, a Champagne for game dishes in autumn (94 P.).
The Berlin Tasting
Florent Roques-Boizel had sent four bottles to my home for a more detailed study of his Champagnes. The focus of interest was on the house’s two origin-influenced novelties: La Côte Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs as well as La Montagne Premier Cru Blanc de Noirs. They are the successors of the classic Blancs de Blancs and Blancs de Noirs of the house. Admittedly, little had to be done in the first case. For some time now, this has come exclusively from the Premier and Grand Cru communes of Chouilly, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Vertus. In the case of Blanc de Noirs, the blend has shifted from the original crus Mareuil sur Aÿ, Cumières, Mailly and Les Riceys to Cumières, Mailly and Chigny les Roses. This basically means that Boizel uses “Montagne” quite generously to refer to the area north of the Marne. And that the wines from Les Riceys from the south of Champagne now probably flow mainly into rosé.
Interestingly, both champagnes are completely different in structure. The Blanc de Blanc is 100% from 2019, so it is actually a Vintage. In the case of the Blanc de Noirs, 32.5% reserve wines from other vintages are added to the base wines from 2019. Otherwise, both are just around the Brut/ExtraBrut limit of 6 gr. Dosage. The BdB with 5.5 gr. below, the BdN with 6.5 gr. above. Both were disgorged in January 2013. While the Côte fascinates with its intense fruit, the Montagne scores with its straightforwardness. In the first case, it is peach, pear, quince and almonds – rather a ripe aroma reminiscent of Vertus, as well as a dense structure and fine perlage (92 P.) In the latter, a somewhat livelier mousse, a more discreet bouquet with apples and brioche and, with somewhat less density, a creamier mouthfeel (91 P.).
Les Grandes Années
As successful as both present themselves: The Grand Vintage goes one better. The Extra Brut made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from the late ripening 2013 vintage not only combines the virtues of the two terroir champagnes, the fruit and the precision. In addition, the very vinous Champagne is characterised by a fine saltiness and great aromatic length (93 p., deg.: 7/2022). The Joyau is simply exceptional. Under the name Joyau de France, it has been the prestige cuvée of the house since 1961. Fun Fact: In the middle of the delivery of the 2008 vintage, there was a renaming (including a new look), so that older batches still trade with and younger ones without “de France”.
This bottle (deg. 1/2023) was my third and it showed both the overwhelming quality of the 2008 vintage and the great art of the house of Boizel. Basically the same blend as the Grand Vintage, but 10% aged in wood and with 3 gr. Dosage, it showed exceptional class. A cool as well as sensual noblesse, with an idea of chalk and a discreet but immensely complex fruitiness. And a profoundly French elegance for which a German simply lacks words (96 P.). Since March 2023, the Joyau, like other top wines of this world, is distributed via La Place de Bordeaux. Let’s hope that some bottles will also reach Germany.
(c) Stefan Pegatzky / Time Tunnel Images