Champagne Françoise Bedel is trending now. First it was their embrace of biodynamics which in a region so bound by conventional over-farming that the worst thing the CIVC could arrange would be a vineyard tour of blasted, compacted soils flecked with bits of rubbish from Paris. Following in the footsteps of other early adopters and inspired by a visit with Jean- Pierre Fleury, Françoise Bedel began the conversion to biodynamics in 1996 at a time when there was still a sense of tin-foil haberdashery surrounding the whole topic and long before it became vogue to discuss what you were doing with cow horns. Then there is the recent ascendant popularity of Pinot Meunier, certainly a trend that has a whiff of fad about it, but there is no mistaking that Françoise makes darn good examples of Meunier-based Champagne, or did as her son Vincent Deseaubeau now runs the estate under her watchful eye.
Now that the whole “Farmer Fizz” revolution is au courant, one’s physical and social distance from Reims or Épernay is seen as proof of your credibility. Luckily for Françoise and Vincent, it is pretty much impossible to get further from Reims without moving into Paris! Based in Crouttes- sur-Marne, a sleepy hamlet in the far western edge of the Valée de la Marne, Vincent farms 8.4 hectares here and in the neighboring villages of Nanteuil-sur-Marne, Charly-sur-Marne and Villiers-St-Denis. The Valée de la Marne is known for Pinot Meunier and about 78% of the vineyards at Bedel are planted with this variety while Chardonnay (13%) and Pinot Noir (9%) play a minor, supporting role. The cellar work is meticulous with wines resting in bottle many years before release.
The newest release from Vincent Deseaubeau is a Coteaux Champenois Blanc made entirely from Pinot Meunier. A fitting project considering his and his mother’s championing of this grape grown on rocky limestone soils at the far western edge of the Vallé de la Marne.