Chartogne Taillet Champagne
The first documented mention of the Taillet family's viticultural activity in the village of Merfy dates back to 1683. Merfy, in the Massif de St-Thierry northwest of Reims, is not the most famous cru today, but has been known for its wines since the Middle Ages: It was mentioned in the thirteenth century by Pardulus, Bishop of Laon, in a letter to Archbishop Hincmar, and indeed the vineyard he calls Chemin de Reims is still used today by Chartogne-Taillet Champagne cultivated. In 1775, Sir Edward Barry wrote that "among river wines, Auvillers and Epernay are most esteemed, and among mountain wines, Selery and St. Thyery." As the most famous cruise of the massif, Merfy would have been practically synonymous with the name of St-Thierry, and that it was mentioned alongside Sillery at the time was high praise indeed.
Today, Chartogne-Taillet Champagne is the only récoltant-manipulans in the village. The Chartogne family arrived in Merfy in 1870 and in 1920 Marie Chartogne married Étienne Taillet and created the estate Chartogne-Taillet. Philippe Chartogne and his wife Élisabeth took over the estate in 1978, and since 2006 their son Alexandre is responsible for the cellars and vineyards. It is noteworthy that the Taillet family has kept a diary of viticulture and winemaking, dating back to Fiacre Taillet, who was born in 1700. You can read this when you visit the winery today, and both Philippe and Alexandre continue the family tradition in the form of commentary on harvests, weather conditions, yields and other viticultural data.
Alexandre Chartogne worked on a stage with Anselme Selosse, who strongly influenced his ideas about viticulture. Today, all Chartogne's parcels are ploughed where possible and numerous cover crops are grown between the rows of vines. Viticulture is above all aimed at preserving and expressing the characteristics of Merfy's various terroirs. "What is special about Merfy is that we have clay and sand over chalk," says Alexandre, "so the vines live in two different environments. It's important that the roots go deep into the soil to gain real minerality, and sometimes our roots go more than 20 meters deep." Each plot is vinified individually and fermentation takes place mostly in stainless steel tanks, although more and more wines are made in used barriques and concrete eggs.
Chartogne-Taillet is one of the flagship winemakers of the northernmost Champagne region near Reims. Philippe and Elisabeth Chartogne, clearly influenced by Burgundy, create by far the clearest and raciest Champagnes in the area at Merfy. The personal connection to Champagne Jacques Selosse is not to be misjudged. All champagnes have been perfectly developed, especially in the vineyard, and mature for an above-average length of time in the cellar, resulting in a fine and complex body.
The classic of Chartogne-Taillet, which traces its tradition as a winery back to 1515, is the Sainte Anne Brut.