Whenever I visit Aÿ I always visit Champagne Roger Brun.
Philippe Brun who manages this house in the heart of AŸ is a man of science and a broad perspective. He is also one of the reasons I fell i love with Champagne. When you ask he always shares his knowledge about agriculture and wine. He will take you to the fields to talk about the soil and the reason the leaves on that particular field is yellow instead of green. He even got his own red Citroën 2CV now to take you round the fields. He is very aware of marketing and trends and will have no problem debating or disagreeing on agriculture, soil, wine, politics, space or parenting.
The moment you taste his Champagne you sense a wine made with passion and personality. It’s the wine that sticks out. From the entry level all the way through the range, which is quite a few different bottles. Most of the Champagne Philippe makes are for pairing with food. I find some of them very versatile for a wide range of dishes. The quality of wines from Roger Brun is above average and still Philippe loves to do experiments with smaller batches. The Blanc de Blanc and the Vieille Vignes are two very exiting examples of that.
One of the subjects we almost always debate, when we meet is the environment. And although he’s experimenting with blending his wines in the cellar he disagrees on experimenting with nature and fertilisers that you can buy of the “Internet”. In this case it could be fertilisers that are natural/organic but not tested for commercial use. Philippe is very much aware of how he manages the terroir and as he says “I have to drink my own water” (and Champagne). He will never use copper for example. He manages fields were copper was used before in time and there is absolutely no insects or life in that soil, so he has to add that to those fields to get a natural environment growing again. At some point he will have to leave the land to the next generation, so naturally it needs to be healthy and taken care of.
Light facts about Champagne Roger Brun
- Location: Aÿ.
- 6,9 hectares of vineyards.
- Production is around 50.000 bottles per year.
- They use malolactic fermentation.
- Vineyards in: Ay, Mareuil sur Ay, Dizy, Avenay Val d’Or, Grauves, Mancy, Mardeuil, Monthelon, Champillon, Dizy.
- Their prestige cuvée is: La Pelle. Single vineyard Champagne named La Pelle from the best spot in AŸ.
- They use oak, but only old oak to oxidate the wine a bit without giving it too much flavor from the wood.
- Philippe Brun is the current winemaker.
- Philippes father produced the 2004 La Familiale who was also the one that invented La Familiale in the first place.
The entry wine from Roger Brun is really approachable and easy to enjoy as an aperitif. I think that this one holds its own and will go a long way compared to a lot of other Champagnes in this category. Classic blend but with more Pinot Noir than the Meunier and Chardonnay. High dosage, but still within the limit of being a Brut. The blend will vary from year to year, but somewhere around 50/25/25 – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
Grande Réserve sec
This is the same wine as the Grande Réserve – but the sugar level is raised to 20g/l. This is less residual sugar than in a Demi-sec and it will still go well with cake or if you have a sweet tooth. This is Philippes take on Champagne that will fill the gap between the brut Champagnes and a sugar loaded cocktail.
Grapes from the Grand Cru fields. 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay from Aÿ. This wine is the N.V I would go for from Roger Brun. This will change a bit with the base year, but for me that just makes it so much more exiting to taste the next release. In my opinion one of the best Champagnes you can buy in this price range.
Blanc de Blancs
Experiment from Philippe – 100% Chardonnay. Limited number of bottles. Approximately 1500 . I think he will do it again in 2020 with a base of 2017. I am looking forward to that.
Also an experiment from Philippe. Pure pinot noir from 2008 plus a little reserve wines. The grapes comes from the back slopes of Aÿ close to the forrest. It aged 8 years in the bottle before release. Bottled in 2009 and disgorged in January 2017. Powerful and yet with a good portion of acidity to it. It goes a long way with food and recently I had this with pork belly, apricot paste, mushroom bouillon and violet.
Cuvée des Sires
This beauty is from Aÿ vineyards and is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Philippe uses oak for the Pinot Noir and steel for the Chardonnay. This cuvée can be enjoyed when released. The different vintages of this wine will vary depending on the weather, but if you like Champagne I’m sure you will be happy about any of the vitages. You can try to keep some on these in your cellar, as they are also made to age.
La Pelle is a single vineyard of the Roger Brun estate. Standing at the top of this vineyard you have a really nice overview of Aÿ. It is a superb south faced field in Aÿ, planted only with Pinot Noir. The grapes from this slope are used by prestigious Champagne houses, and a lot of them have vineyards next to the La Pelle field. The cuvée La Pelle Extra-Brut is a Blanc de Noirs which is vinified in small used oak barrels only from this vineyard. The vintages are different because of the weather that particular year. Some of them are round and some ar more spicy and can be kept for a very long time. This wine is made for gastronomy and I have tasted them on several occasions and I have never been let down. Usually the number of bottles per year is between 0-5000 depending on the year. If Philippe only makes one press it will be 2730 bottles. So if you get the chance you really should try it. There are two Kings of France on the label for La Pelle. Namely the two kings from 16th century who had their press in Ay. Francis 1st – who brought Leonardo da Vinci to France, and Henri IV – the most popular French king who ended religion war. The city of Aÿ still celebrate Henri IV day.
Réserve Familiale is for the ones you consider family. It is not for sharing with just anyone. The vintages I have enjoyed have all been very potent and absolute perls. They are only made from vintages where they can see the potential for making it right. The two latest additions was made by two different generations. Philippes father made the 2004 from 60% pinot noir made in stainless steel and 40% chardonnay in oak after fermentation. The 2006 was made by Philippe from 2/3 pinot noir and 1/3 chardonnay all the process was done in oak. Réserve Familiale is a blend of Aÿ, Mesnil and Avize.