Emmanuel Brochet is definitely a cool kid you want to hang out with. Not just for the fact that he makes amazing Champagne but also because he’s an avid cyclist, has a passion for tractors and he’s got an artistic eye for interior design you wish you had. My last visit (and first visit) at Emmanuel’s was luckily just before the first lockdown in 2020. I used the excuse of my good friend Joanne’s birthday to make a girl’s trip out of it. I also brought along my, then nearly one year old, daughter Shea. Visiting growers in Champagne is extremely child friendly. Most of them have children of their own and the visits are often so casual and domestic, they make you feel right at home. Some even help babysit whilst you taste.
The village of Villers-Aux-Nœuds is located in the Motagne de Reims just south of Reims. The family Brochet has been there for centuries and the road where his family winery is located on a street named “Brochet”. But Emmanuel himself is a first generation Champagne grower and producer. He farms a small 2.5 hectare plot called Le Mont Benoit where the upper level old vines were planted in 1962 and the lower level with the youngest vines planted in 1984. He produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from this single vineyard and bottles a blend cuvee named appropriately after the vineyard and also a 100% Pinot Meunier and a 100% Chardonnay. Only just recently, he has released a rosé saignee that is to die for. Oh, and a Ratafia* from solera!
As a small child, Emmanuel always preferred playing outdoors in the garden with his grandmother then concentrating on school work. He trained with the dream of eventually taking over the 2.5 hectare of vines that his father farmed as a tenant. It took a lot of patience before he was able to obtain the right to the land. He sold his favourite tractor (yes, he collected tractors) while waiting for the lease to run out, then renovated the old farm to house a press and his vats. His first vintage was in 1998.
Our tasting that late morning was in his lounge/office whilst his youngest son did his homework on this computer and with my daughter crawling on the floor chewing on Champagne corks. The aesthetics of his house and his winery can only be described as boho chic mashed with modern Scandi simplicity. We tasted through the 2016 base vintage Le Mont Benoit and also the 2013 Hauts de Meunier and 2011 Hauts de Chardonnay. We talked about children and his recent horrific cycle accident (he got ran off the road by a car during one of his bike rides). The wines shone like the perfect ray of sunshine through the wooden slate windows. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
This Easter I will be drinking a bottle of his 2013 Hauts de Meunier. Special occasions calls for special wines, and this 100% Pinot Meunier from this top slope of Le Mont Benoit is definitely special. The structure, body and spices will work perfectly with the lamb James will be cooking and the hot cross buns that we will be munching on throughout the day. I’d recommend decanting this Champagne and serve it less cold than usual. This is definitely a gourmand wine.
*Ratafia is a sweet liqueur made in Champagne around 18% alcohol, great after dinner or with cheese. When James and I brought our first home, the day we received our keys, James decided to bring a bottle of Champagne from our cellar to celebrate the occasion. When I arrived at the new house, I saw with amusement that he had brought a bottle of Emmanuel Brochet Ratafia! Yes, we drank it.
Because it's Sandia's pick for Easter, we've put Emmanuel's 2013 Hauts de Meunier on a special offer! Shop it here.