Val de Mer by Patrick Piuze Cremant De Bourgogne Non Dose
Although it is a partnership, all of the wines at Val de Mer are made by Patrick Piuze and the vineyards are under his watch as well. For the fruit that is purchased, Patrick chooses the date of harvest and takes his own team into the vineyards to pick by hand, just the same as he does for his own label. At the Val de Mer winery there is a complete range of wines produced including Bourgogne Blanc, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and 3 Grand Crus. There are also white and rosé sparkling wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir respectively. Patrick is quick to point out that although he is making the wines in the same manner as the wines under his own name, that Val de Mer has its own identity and personality. It is a separate winery located 20 minutes from Chablis and the wines ferment, and age differently here due to the winery’s location in a cool valley and the fact that the wines are made at ground level rather than underground as they are at his own winery. The change in ambiance results in wines that are uniquely their own. Often more classically styled in character than the Patrick Piuze wines which are richly textured and layered, the wines of Val de Mer exhibit pronounced minerality and racy acidity that one expects from Chablis.
The source of the most racy, light and tactile, yet uniquely complex Chardonnay, Chablis, while considered part of Burgundy, actually reaches far past the most northern stretch of the Côte d’Or proper. Its vineyards cover hillsides surrounding the small village of Chablis about 100 miles north of Dijon, making it actually closer to Champagne than to Burgundy. Champagne and Chablis have a unique soil type in common called Kimmeridgian, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world except southern England. A 180 million year-old geologic formation of decomposed clay and limestone, containing tiny fossilized oyster shells, spans from the Dorset village of Kimmeridge in southern England all the way down through Champagne, and to the soils of Chablis. This soil type produces wines full of structure, austerity, minerality, salinity and finesse.
Chablis Grands Crus vineyards are all located at ideal elevations and exposition on the acclaimed Kimmeridgian soil, an ancient clay-limestone soil that lends intensity and finesse to its wines. The vineyards outside of Grands Crus are Premiers Crus, and outlying from those is Petit Chablis. Chablis Grand Cru, as well as most Premier Cru Chablis, can age for many years.
A term typically reserved for Champagne and Sparkling Wines, non-vintage or simply “NV” on a label indicates a blend of finished wines from different vintages (years of harvest). To make non-vintage Champagne, typically the current year’s harvest (in other words, the current vintage) forms the base of the blend. Finished wines from previous years, called “vins de reserve” are blended in at approximately 10-50% of the total volume in order to achieve the flavor, complexity, body and acidity for the desired house style. A tiny proportion of Champagnes are made from a single vintage.
There are also some very large production still wines that may not claim one particular vintage. This would be at the discretion of the winemaker’s goals for character of the final wine.