It feels as though we've known the Champagnes of Alexandre Filaine for much longer than a few vintages. We have found ourselves utterly enchanted with each release of these powerful and compelling wines.After a career as winemaker at Bollinger, Fabrice Gass switched gears, establishing himself as a premier grower, making wines of precision and power. He farms a mere hectare and a half, predominantly of Pinot Noir; few are as fervently devoted to that grape as Fabrice. In his home village of Damery he's known as much for his small-production sparkling Champagne as for his illicit red wine he shares with friends.His winery is equally miniscule—the size of an average suburban garage. Within his madman's workshop are hundred-year-old barrels, some inherited from his days at Bollinger, where all fermentation takes place. Distinctly lacking are any technological instruments; no, Fabrice is a man who prefers to use his hands, some self-crafted tools and his spectacular terroir to create his dynamic and opulent wines.The wines do not go through malo, ensuring rippling acidity and cementing their age-worthy status. His disdain for stainless steel, choosing to embrace ancient barrels for both fermentation and aging, makes him something of an anachronism in modern Champagne; indeed, he's producing wine like it would have been made a hundred years ago, with painstaking effort and immaculate craftsmanship.
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!