Vincent Laval's family has been in the village of Cumières for as long as the village started keeping records hundreds of years ago. Laval’s two hectares are in Cumières on the northern bank of the Marne, just a few kilometers west of Épernay. The vineyards face south/southeast, and receive ample sun exposure. Cumières is generally the first village in Champagne to ripen. Though Cumières is considered part of the Montagne de Reims, it’s right on the cusp of the Vallée de Marne, which means that Pinot Meunier also finds a home here. Georges Laval converted the vineyards to organic in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Vincent’s approach in the cellar is hands off: base wines ferment spontaneously in neutral barrel, and are treated with minimal sulfur. Laval bottles quite late, which means that he’s essentially made a finished wine before second fermentation begins. The wines are, almost without exception, bottled Brut Nature; however the ripeness of the terroir in conjunction with impeccable farming mean that these wines find exquisite balance without dosage.
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!