In addition to being a top Champagne vigneron, Christophe Mignon is something of a wizard, a mad scientist. Mignon is credited — along with a few other notable Champagne vignerons (including Jérôme Prévost) — with elevating the status of Pinot Meunier, once considered a supporting player to Chardonnay or Pinot Noir's leading role. His estate is located in the Vallée de Marne, where Pinot Meunier is grown in clay and chalk soils, ideal for expressing intense fruit and precise minerality. For the past 20 years, everything at the estate has been done with respect for the lunar calendar, as well as Christophe's unwavering respect for the earth. An inveterate tinkerer, he's designed many of his own vineyard tools, including a homeopathy machine that dispenses minute amounts of copper (as well as tinctures of valerian root and garlic), to curb the need for intrusive chemicals. He farms over 30 small parcels, and vinifies parcels separately, based on their unique terroir. From a group of vines averaging 45 years of age, Chez Mignon, the point of Champagne is enjoyment. While his wines can be quite serious and vinous, the Meunier grape provides something so delightful, so fun, that we've been tempted to pop a bottle on a weekday evening, just because.
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!