Davy Zyw, former sommelier and now international wine buyer, shares his passion for champagne in his brand new book (published by Freight Books in 2017) entitled I LOVE CHAMPAGNE. Davy delivers a guide to 50 of the world’s best champagne producers. Here’s what he had to say about AR Lenoble:
Noble by name, and by nature, this brother and sister team produce dignified wines in their boutique operation based in Damery in the heartland of the Vallée de la Marne. The classy wee House is one of the smallest in all Champagne, producing Under 400,000 bottles, a fraction compared to the Grandes Marques which dominate high street shelves. What they don’t have in quantity, owners Anne and Antoine Malassagne make up for in creative and expressive quality which rivals any big player in Champagne. AR Lenoble is one of the very few champagne houses to be consistently family owned and run since its origins in the 1920s. Over this 100-year period their focus and philosophy has changed slightly, as you would expect, but their unwavering search for quality has never been quenched.
Expressing and caring for their own and diverse vineyards is key for the family. They own vines in the Grand Cru area of Chouilly for Chardonnay, Premier Cru Pinot Noir in Bisseuil and Meunier in their hometown village of Damery. They farm the vines almost organically, in order to nuture as much biodiversity and health in the vineyards as possible to increase naturally lower yields. They even keep bees which encourages pollination in the vineyards and are also an important emblem for the house. They now make honey from the vineyard bees, which is just as sought after as their champagne!
The AR Lenoble team have forged an ambitious and quality-focused reputation over the last few years and I love their approach to their wine styles. Nothing is written in stone, Nothing is done because ‘It’s always been done that way’ and they don’t have shareholders to keep happy, just their customers and themselves. They adapt their approach to best suit the vintage and are constantly experimenting to get the best style and expression from their vines. Considering the small scale of the operation, the high demand and quality of the wines, AR Lenoble could be charging a lot more for their champagnes.
For me, they are in a select, forward-thinking group with Selosse and Jacquesson who are making the most exciting wines in the whole of Champagne right now. Keep watching this space.