Larmandier Bernier Supper 2020

Biodynamic farming, meticulous attention in the vineyard, an increasing amount of large format oak and low levels of dosage are some of the choices that inform these rich, vinous Champagnes. The Larmandiers draw on a number of top sites in their home village of Vertus, along with parcels in Cramant, Oger and Avize. Among the pioneers in the early days of the grower Champagnemovement, Larmandier-Bernier is sometimes overlooked in favor of some of the newer kids on the block, but, as these notes show, the wines are every bit as compelling as they have always been. ANTONIO GALLONI, Vinous

Few growers’ ranges in Champagne are as consistently outstanding as that of Larmandier-Bernier. ANDREW JEFFORD, The New France

Larmandier Bernier is truly one of the stars of the grower Champagne movement. Today this eponymous estate is run by Pierre and Sophie Larmandier from 15 ha of some of the finest Grand Crus vineyards of the Cotes de Blanc. Pierre took over the direction of the family estate in 1988, and by 1992 he began to move the family’s vineyards over to organics and then to full-blown biodynamic viticulture by 1999. Their holdings are comprised of eighty-five percent Chardonnay and fifteen percent Pinot Noir with vines averaging 45 years of age.

At the heart of the Larmandier philosophy is wines driven by terroir through a minimalist approach -indigenous yeast, low yields, slow, natural ferments, very little sulphur and low dosage. The latter is a key proponent of what makes the wines so expressive of site with never more than four grams per litre of dosage in any cuvee. In some cases, such as the Terre de Vertus, the dosage is often zero.

In the cellar everything is designed to maximise the expression of the vineyard, commune and vintage. Base wines for the Longtitude and Latitiude are fermented in steel tank with reserve wines in a mixture of fermenting vessels including large oak vats and sometimes barriques. The special cuvees and vintage wines fair more towards the use of larger format barrels, some old barriques and of course very low dosage again. Ultimately, as Pierre admits, what happens in the cellar is always dictated by the vintage.

These are reference point bottlings that offer some of the most revealing expressions of terroir in the region. They have impeccable balance, concentration, texture and a purity and finesse that carries across the whole range. They rarely, if ever, skip a beat and any artifice of wine-making is seamlessly integrated revealing a mineral intensity and sense of place few producers in Champagne can match.