1/28/14 George Laval
Ironically I spent much of the day being lost finding my hotel in Epernay because my gps couldn't find it and I didn't have a map of the city. However, one of the hardest producers to find was no problem. The entrance really is poorly marked, but knowing that going in made it easy. Also google street view has been a life saver, I know exactly what to look for.
Anyway, visiting Vincent as my first appointment was perfect. He spoke little English, so it forced me to immediately work on my French. His winery is tiny, and he truly only makes a small bit of wine, 6000-7000 bottles annually. Frankly I'm amazed that I get any, and talking to him and the guys at 520, a serious wine shop in Epernay, I think I get more than most! For such a small winery he really has a impressive network of caves under his building. It was a perfect first visit because Vincent is a delightful man that truly is interested in making world class wine, but is down to earth and approachable. None of the champagne marketing machine here, just honest and amazing wine.
His wines, between the vin clair and ones in bottle really showed a sense of place for Cumieres. Through all 10 wines I tasted in various states of their life, I truly noticed a thread that seemed more terrior driven than winemaker, but maybe vincent is just that good. Through all the wines, including all 3 grapes and 4 vintages, Cumieres showed something fine. I'm still trying to put my finger on it, but it was a classiness that was unexpected and I think often overlooked because Cumieres isn't grand cru. The wines all sang in a voice that wasn't present in any of the cotes de blancs villages today. Vincent planted the word fine in my mind, because the wines weren't quite elegant, but had a hidden majesty about them, particularly once I acclimated to the high acid. One of my favorite quotes of the visits was when we were discussing acid, sugar, and balance and how he doesn't like to use much if any sugar. His thought is that if they don't add sugar to Corton Charlemagne than he doesn't need to add it to his wine either. High sights indeed! Vincent was also one of the few people that I've heard actively talk about the vineyards in terms of where on the slope they're located - top, mid , bottom, as well as the different soils. It was very obvious talking to him that the folks in champagne are quite aware of whats going on with their land, it's just rarely discussed with the trade or consumers. Tasting his wines opened my eyes about the quality and potential of Cumieres. It also showed me that 2013 is going to be a stellar year for champagne.