Jean Laurent is a grower‐producer in the tiny village of Celles‐sur‐Ource. Situated south of Epernay, in the Côte des Bar, the estate is comprised of 35 acres (30 Pinot Noir, 6+ Chardonnay, 3 Pinot Blanc) planted in distinctive chalky soils, part of a band that stretches from Champagne to Chablis and all the way to the White Cliffs of Dover. Vineyards average 25 to 30 years in age, with the oldest parcels planted more than 60 years ago.
While Jean’s family has grown wine in Celles‐sur‐Ource for many generations, his grandfather Pierre was the first to start making Champagne. Jean’s father Raymond took production to the next level and began commercializing their Champagnes in earnest in 1952.
Third‐generation owner at the estate, Jean is committed to sustainable agriculture, carefully limiting his vineyard treatments, using solar panels to generate winery’s electricity, and using reclaimed rainwater for winery operations.
Grower Champagne – Taste The Difference
The big info is in the small print. The first two letters in a Champagne maker’s license (usually found in the smallest print on the front label) tell you what kind of producer they are:
RM = Recoltant Manipulant – The French term for Grower Champagne. ‘Recoltant’ means ‘harvester’. RM Champagnes are Estate Bottled by the producer exclusively from his/her own vineyards.
NM = Negociant Manipulant – Purchases grapes and/or bulk wine and/or bottled wine. These include many of the larger, well-known brands as well as hundreds of smaller producers.
CM = Cooperative Manipulant – Growers who take their grapes to the village Cooperative. The wines are then sold under the grower’s name or under a Coop‐owned label.
As an RM, Jean makes Champagnes only from grapes grown in his own vineyards. Savvy consumers have begun to favor Grower Champagnes (‘farmer fizz’) over the Grande Marques. Grower Champagnes can offer high quality, a house style and an expression of terroir. Most Grande Marque Champagnes are blended from districts scattered all over Champagne rather than from small, distinctive patches of vines. Jean Laurent is a great example of how profoundly traditional winemaking, estate‐grown fruit and fanatical devotion to quality can yield distinctive Champagnes of individuality and character.
Champagne Jean Laurent
The house style at Champagne Laurent is characterized by single‐varietal bottlings (not blends), and stainless steel vinification and elevage (no oak) with full malolactic conversion. Jean’s non‐vintage (NV) Champagnes are multi‐vintage blends that spend 30‐36 months on the yeast. Vintage Champagnes are characterized by very long aging on the lees prior to release (more than 10 years). Jean’s famous store of old and rare vintages (some more than 40 years old!) is very special and unique to this house; after 8 years sur latte, these old bottles are also stored sur point and disgorged to order. A small number of specialty bottlings (tête de cuvée) are also produced. All are labeled with the date of disgorgement and finished with 8‐10 g/l (Rosé) or 6‐8 g/l (BdN, BdB) sugar unless no dosage is requested.
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Northern Rhône Valley, France