Starting a brand new champagne house is probably not easy. The process to make champagne is very outdrawn, with substantial capital costs, and there’s a fierce competition with high-budget marketing. But the brothers Guillaume, Rodolphe and Richard Frerejean took the challenge.
In 2005 they founded the house Champagne Frerejean Frères and they have managed to make themselves a name in the fierce competition that exists in the upper price levels of Champagne. It probably helps that the brothers since a long time have considered Champagne as their home and that their mother is a Taittinger.
The house is located in Avize, the famous village of the Côte des Blancs. Most of their grapes also come from there. They work with what’s called premier and grand cru grapes (the old “cru system that was the basis of the now abolished grape price hierarchy called l’échelle des crus), sometimes from really old vines. One of the main characteristics of their style is a low dosage – in other words really dry champagnes – and a long ageing on the lees, at least five years and eight years or more for the vintage champagnes.
Champagne Frerejean Frères Blanc de Blancs is elegant, floral and refreshing, quite light bodied in style.
You take a big step up in experience with Champagne Frerejean Frères La Cuvée VV 26 Grand Cru. Here too, the grapes are 100% Chardonnay. The grapes come from the grand cru villages of Cramant, Avize and Oger. This is a very rich and tasty champagne with great depth and complexity with nutty and spicy notes. Very intense. The vines are old, the oldest being from 1926, hence the name of the champagne. The still wine spends seven months in oak barrels and then two vintages are blended, right now in the one we tasted it is 2008 and 2009.
The cork is held in place not with the usual muselet, the wire cage, but with a “staple” or a clamp. This is an old tradition in Champagne but very rare today. It is sometimes used for the second fermentation in the cellars in Champagne, instead of the usual crown capsule, but very rarely on a finished wine. It’s a sure sign that someone wants you to notice the luxurious packaging. Opening the bottle can take a little bit longer than usual. Not easy. The simplest way is to equip yourself with a pair of pliers and twist off the clamp.
The experience does not come cheap of course. Champagne Frerejean Frères La Cuvée VV 26 Grand Cru is made in 8000 bottles and can be yours for 150 euro.
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