Grower Champagnes of rising star Jerome Coessens
Sunday, May 5, 2019 in News
Jérôme Coessens is an emerging superstar of Champagne, crafting impressive grower Champagne from his tiny Monopole in the Côte des Bar. Adrian Read reports...
For a century the Côte des Bar was much-maligned, a place considered fit only for growing grapes to go into big Champagne blends.
Jérôme Coessens, Winemaker
Champagne’s heartland is the slopes around Reims and Epernay. The Côte des Bar is a two-hour drive away to the south-east, closer to Chablis than it is to Reims. Indeed, there was a push - ultimately unsuccessful - for its exclusion when the Champagne region was created in 1908.
For some time it was officially a ‘deuxiѐme’ or second zone. Today it’s a hotspot with an adventurous new generation of small grower-producers making their own wines and creating a culture of innovative, terroir-driven, complex, ‘wine-like’ Champagnes.
Jérôme Coessens is one of the best, making wine under his own name only since 2006 after seven years working for a major Champagne house.
Coessens was sought out by Langton’s Senior International Buyer Florian Thoelke, who visited the domaine last year and obtained allocations of three wines - a Blanc de Noirs and Brut Nature, both from the 2014 vintage, and the 2011 Les Sens Boisés (literally ‘Senses of Wood’) a wine fermented and matured on lees in old Chablis barrels for eight months.
The Coessens wines are now available.
The family has owned vineyards in the Côte des Bar village of Ville-sur-Arce for five generations, including Largillier, a 3.5 hectare vineyard from which all the Coussens wines are sourced.
Jérôme proudly points out that his wines come from a single region, a single village, a single vineyard, a single variety - Pinot Noir - and, unusually, a single vintage. This is rare in Champagne where wines cannot be labelled by vintage unless they are aged in bottle for three years. Jérôme gives the vintage on the back-label.
After exhaustive soil-profiling, he has also divided Largillier into four sections, naming them Mineral, Fruit, Flower and Substance (meaning power or richness), after the characters bestowed on wines by varying combinations of clay and limestone.
Clay gives floral and spice notes, and red and black fruits in the mid-palate depending on the ripeness of the grapes. More sandy soils give citrus notes and the limestone-rich sectors of the vineyard give saltiness, minerality, a crystalline sensation of acidity and add finesse.
Jérôme encourages deep rooting of the vines by plowing the soil and allowing grass to grow between the rows. He picks late compared to other growers because he is looking for concentration and aromas.
For fermentation and aging he uses temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for all his wines except the Les Sens Boisés which is fermented and aged in used Chablis grand cru barrels.
Coessens is a micro-producer with total annual production under 1000 dozen. There is rarely more than 300 dozen of any one wine and often 100 dozen or less.