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Calsac Champagne: Mighty Minerality in Champagne's Lesser-Known Terroir

Stylized image of Etienne Calzac bottles

Etienne Calsac is the epitome of the 21st century Champagne grower — he took over 2.8 hectares of his grandparents’ vineyards in and around Avize in 2010, at the ripe age of 26. Where his family previously sold grapes to the big houses, Etienne’s vision was to farm organically, paying attention to each parcel, each vine, and craft Champagnes that would show off not just his incredible terroir, but also his tireless efforts toward bubbly, mineral-driven perfection.

The fruit for his flagship wine, L’Echappé Belle (“the great escape”) comes from vineyeards in the Côte des Blancs, the Cote de Sézanne, and the Grande Vallée de la Marne. It’s a blanc de blancs with great tension, meant to highlight the specific way Chardonnay translates limestone and clay-limestone soils. The majority (70%) comes from his familial hometown of Grauves, a premier cru village on the backside of the Côte des Blancs, buttressed by the grand crus of Avize, Cramant and Oger. A small portion, 20% or so, is aged in old barrel; the rest is fermented and aged in stainless tank. Malolactic fermentation is blocked, and just 2 grams dosage are added, in pursuit of tension and thrumming energy!

The limited ‘Les Rocheforts’ is a single vineyard champagne from a warm, extremely chalky site in Bisseuil, in the Grande Vallé de la Marne. It offers a bouquet of complex aromas (white flowers, dried pineapple, fresh citrus, and ginger) that give way to a precise, mineral finish — Etienne’s trademark, once more. The winemaking is similar to above — indigenous yeast fermentation, a blend of tank and old barrels (50% of each, here), barely-there dosage (4g/L).

Though we like to think of Champagne as a seasonless pleasure, we’ll likely be drinking even more bubbles than usual over the next few months. The holidays are virtually synonymous with Champagne. And if you are on the lookout for terrifically mineral-driven Champagnes that don’t lack for pretty fruit and charming perfume, Etienne Calsac might just be your guy. 

Etienne Calsac, Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru 'Echappée Belle' Extra Brut (2021 base), NV $54.99
“It’s round and floral, showing the influence of clay soils, and while he releases it in both brut and extra brut versions, the extra brut is more expressive.” — Peter Liem, Champagne

Etienne Calsac, Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru Les Rocheforts Extra-Brut (2021 base), NV $85.99 OR 1.5L $176.99
“Les Rocheforts…shows the body of the Grande Vallée while retaining a taut, racy structure.” — Peter Liem, Champagne



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