When a star like Eric Rodez recommends you check out a new Champagne producer, you’d be foolish not to make a visit. Adam Freidberg, Rodez’ long time New York importer, is no fool. So he went straight to Ecueil, on the Montagne de Reims, where he found a young couple making absolutely killer Champagnes.Geraldine Lacourte and her husband, Francois, took over Geraldine’s family vines and started bottling instead of selling to the co-op. Their plots – 85% planted to Pinot Noir – are on a patchwork of different soils, including sand over very deep chalk (at the top of the mountain), and heavier clay (at the bottom). Such variety of soils can make for a complete and complex Champagne.But it takes a lot of work and experience to vinify each parcel separately and then blend them together just right. Fortunately, they’ve been tutored and supported by Eric Rodez, who practiced these arts at no less a Champagne house than Krug. Eric also convinced them to go organic (their farming has been certified for a couple of years).Lacourte Godbillon, with their organic, everything-by-hand farming, terroir-focused winemaking, and pure, pure wines, is the kind of grower that could blow up one day. In fact, the wines were on track to do just that, with placements in top restaurants and prices moving upwards.
Champagne boasts some of the world’s greatest luxury brands with Krug, Cristal and, of course, Dom Perignon. But it’s also home to hundreds of small dynamic producers—farmers who grow their own grapes (often organically) and make (often with natural methods) tiny amounts of pure and absolutely delicious wine that reflect the individual personalities of their villages and terroirs. Toast with these wines, for sure. But also treat them like the great wines they are: taste, drink, explore!