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Elise Dechannes runs a petite domaine under biodynamic culture in Les Riceys, two hamlets (Ricey-Bas and Ricey-Haut) that share a small appellation in the south of Champagne known for its rosé, Rosé des Riceys, just an hour drive northeast of Chablis. The character of the Pinot Noir in this region is exceptional and unique. Through her range (almost entirely composed of Pinot Noir based Champagnes and one still wine rosé) the throughline of deep but elegant sappiness in the palate and ethereal, wildly complex aromas seem to truly come from this particular place.
Her Rosé des Riceys is a well-worth-it, juicy and tremendously complex and delicious still rosé (non-sparkling wine) with real stuffing. It alone brings greater meaning to rosé for me than a festive warm weather drink and sits atop a very short list of truly extraordinary rosés I’ve had in my life. Once open, it often shows darker fruits and needs time to show its full range of complexity while it works its way into the higher fruit tones and sweet rose aromas. We have a lot of great Pinot Noir rosés in our portfolio (Bruno Clair, Thierry Richoux, François Crochet), but I’ve not found complexity in Pinot Noir rosé like I’ve found in this wine, even outside of the greats we already represent
Champagne Essentielle is made entirely from Pinot Noir from Les Riceys. The price is only a little higher than her starting Champagne, but it seems to perfectly capture the essence of the winery. It’s gorgeous and delivers as much pleasure for a young Champagne as seems possible. The bright Pinot Noir fruit is not subtle and makes for an unapologetically delicious, serious Champagne (2016 vintage, zero dosage) that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s very limited.
After tasting the range of limited cuvées of which we can only buy 36 bottles of each, the 2012 Champagne Chardonnay Brut Nature is a great view into her more distinguished wines. It has a lot to say but needs a little time to show its finer points. It comes out straight away with a lot of flavor and Chardonnay power and becomes more finely tuned with more time open. Chardonnay can be surprisingly beastly in the south of Champagne on limestone marl and clay, but with the right amount of patience, its characteristics narrow and become pointed and refined.
A more in-depth writeup of Elise Dechannes and her wines will be available in the fall of 2021.