In 1915, Armand-Raphaël Graser, then a wine merchant in Alsace, left his native region for Champagne.
He started producing champagne in 1920, two years after the end of the war. Not wanting to have a German-sounding last name at that particular moment in history, he christened his wines “Lenoble” as he believed the wines of Champagne to be the most noble wines in France; his initials “AR” preceded the “Lenoble” and a new name was born!
In 1947, Armand-Raphaël Graser died by falling into a tank during the middle of the harvest, an appropriate end for a man who dedicated his entire life to producing wines in Champagne. His son Joseph Graser assumed control of AR Lenoble upon his father’s death and kept the name and the vineyards in the family.
In 1973, Armand-Raphaël’s grandson (and Joseph’s nephew), Jean-Marie Malassagne took over AR Lenoble. Jean-Marie was also an accomplished obstetrician-gynaecologist who founded the polyclinic of Courlancy in Reims which today is known as a prominent medical practice that encompasses a group of seven clinics throughout the Champagne region. Doctor Malassagne personally delivered many of the children born in Champagne during his long career.
In 1980, a long story of friendship started when a young man named Stefan, the son of a fellow doctor who worked with Anne and Antoine’s father Jean-Marie Malassagne, himself a prominent obstetrician gynaecologist in Reims, was looking for work during the harvest.
Stefan soon became extremely skilled at operating of our three 45-year-old Coquard presses where all of our grapes are pressed at harvest. Although he lives in Poland, he and his family have been coming back to manage the pressing house every year since 1980.
Chouilly was promoted to Grand Cru status in 1985 at the same time as the villages of Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Oiry and Verzy.
Chouilly is one of only 17 villages classified as Grand Cru in Champagne and one of only 6 Grand Cru villages known for Chardonnay.
In 1993, Jean-Marie’s daughter Anne decided to leave her successful career as a financial director at L’Oréal in Paris in order to take over AR Lenoble from her father; she was 28 years old at the time. She continues to runs AR Lenoble with her brother, Antoine, who joined the House in 1996 after completing advanced studies as a chemical engineer.
Anne and Antoine manage every aspect of the business personally, supported by a team of 12 individuals spread between the vineyards, the winery and the offices. They complement each other perfectly, Antoine having a natural capacity to take care of the vineyards and craft the wines while Anne naturally finds herself drawn to administrative management and communication. Both of them travel the world extensively.
In 1999, Anne and Antoine released the very first champagne made from a single vineyard in the Grand Cru village of Chouilly. The wine was named “Les Aventures” in honour of a particular parcel of one half-hectare and was a blend of three different harvests from that parcel: 1990, 1995 and 1996.
The idea was to create a wine which would properly express the precise terroir of Chouilly, a village which yields Chardonnay that has been described as reminiscent of the fruit found in Burgundy’s Puligny-Montrachet.
As opposed to some of the neighbouring villages on the Côte des Blancs which produce fruit known for intense minerality, the fruit from Chouilly is renowned for its fleshy, buttery notes which reveal themselves almost immediately, yet still have a remarkable capacity to age.
Several French wine authorities have recognised AR Lenoble for our tremendous contribution towards the valorisation and notoriety of this particular village.
In 2007, Anne and Antoine complete the construction of their new winery inside their family's house in Damery. At AR Lenoble, a combination of different vinificaton vessels are employed so that individual parcels are fermented accordingly on a parcellaire basis in small Burgundy barrels of 225 litres, 5000-litre foudres, stainless steel tanks and/or enamel-lined tanks. All reserve wines are conserved in either small Burgundy barrels of 225 litres or 5000-litre foudres according to the solera system.
In 2012, AR Lenoble was the second house in Champagne to be awarded the “Haute Valeur Environnementale” certification as part of a legal measure implemented under French law in 2007 to encourage sustainable development.
After more than 20 years of environmentally-friendly procedures put in place on the estate, AR Lenoble was recognized for its zero use of chemical fertiliser, practically zero use of weed killer, drastic limits on the use of phytosanitary inputs to control mildew and powdery mildew in the vineyard and particular attention to biodiversity and enhancement of the vineyard with hedgerows, orchards, embankments, trees and low walls.
The historic vineyards, wine cellars and producers of Champagne were listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The vineyards of Burgundy were simultaneously crowned with the same prestigious distinction.