In the beginning, there was the vine
On the incredible terroir of Les Riceys with its three AOCs, where Champagne expertise meets Burgundy know-how, the Domaine Alexandre Bonnet lives and works according to the cycle of the vines. Because wine is made in the vineyard, season after season, with grapes expressing the terroir – here, the Contrée – in which they are grown. The Domaine’s 23 Contrées are different, each one has its own soil thickness, slope, and exposure. They express different emotions, which are revealed from the bottle with each vintage. At Alexandre Bonnet, vinification is carried out parcel by parcel, in Burgundian style, based on instinct and experience rather than intellect, using the senses rather than logic, and that’s a unique approach in Champagne.
Preserved, sincere champagne
The search for harmony in a wine is a complex task, and at Alexandre Bonnet is patiently achieved following the cycles of the vine and the seasons, from parcel to cellar and from cellar to parcel. The Domaine’s vinifications are heavily influenced by vintage. The final blend is underscored by the depth of the reserve wines, which are selected based on their original parcel and vintage. This process of making authentic wine is both very demanding and very representative of the Domaine’s culture.
Rosé des Riceys: the Domaine’s little gem
This appellation is both magnificent and unique, and many are surprised to learn that it is made in Champagne. Produced in small quantities from whole-bunch macerated Pinot Noir, Rosé des Riceys is the perfect reflection of the terroir in this part of Champagne, with its strong ties to Burgundy. Showing painstaking attention and providing constant care, Domaine Alexandre Bonnet has produced this exceptional cuvée with subtle floral notes almost every year since 1985.
Alchemy between intuition and imagination
One of the challenges in making wines at the Domaine is to release notes of fresh and ripe fruit, sprinkled with spices, over a powerful and vibrant backbone, and blend them together in harmony. Working on each parcel to ensure it expresses its full potential, Domaine Alexandre Bonnet manages to produce six different types of wine from the same grape variety: Pinot Noir.
One of the Domaine’s champagne cuvées comes from La Géande, a unique parcel in the whole appellation, because it is planted with the seven historic champagne grape varieties (Pinot Noir, Meunier, Chardonnay, Blanc Vrai, Buret, Arbane, and Petit Meslier). Grapes from another Contrée known as La Forêt, are also used to produce four other wines: Rosé des Riceys, Coteau Champenois and two champagnes: a Rosé de Saignée and a Blanc de Noirs. Didier and Irvin believe that the special features of the terroir and the Domaine itself contribute to the wines’ fabulous aromatic palette, producing almost alchemical blends, freeing both the intuition of the senses and the imagination.
In a countryside, not so far, far away…
In Champagne, it is known as a Lieu-dit. In Burgundy, a Climat. On the terroir of Les Riceys, it is called a Contrée. All these romantic names refer to the same thing: an area of land planted with vines, which has different qualities from its neighbour, faces a different direction, has a different slope, or is exposed differently to the wind or sun. Sometimes the grape variety or age of the vines may differ. The many different Contrées therefore do not experience the cycles of nature in the same way, and do not produce the same fruit. These qualities are what makes an estate such as Alexandre Bonnet so complex and diverse. The task for producers is to reveal the characteristics of each parcel, even areas within a parcel, to determine the most interesting Contrée for such and such a cuvée; to find balance within the wines, as well as in grape varieties and vintages.