Sunday, May 20, 2018

Carricante-Based wines from the eastern and southern slopes of Mt. Etna at Contrada dell'Etna

Our going-in strategy for this year's Contrada dell'Etna was to drink only the white wines from Etna's east and southeast flanks in order to imprint the characteristics of those wines on our senses. Our tasting team included Brandon Tokash, Lidia Rizzo, Sue Tolson, Parlo, and me.  The map below shows the coverage area of interest.


Climate in the area of interest
As shown on the below chart, growing conditions in the east and southeast differs from the conditions in the north and southwest.

Derived from Nesto and di Savino

The southeast and eastern slopes are unprotected from the autumn and winter rains but the combination of rapid runoff and early morning sun contribute to their attractiveness as growing regions (especially for whites).

The volcano's southeast flank experiences markedly different climatic conditions than north-slope-resident wineries. First, it is warmer in the southeast than in the north; 4 to 7 degrees warmer, as a matter of fact.

Second, with no protective layer of mountains, the region bears the full brunt of the wind and rain coming in off the Ionian Sea. In the fall and spring, dry winds form over North Africa, pick up moisture over the Mediterranean, and barrel into the Sicilian coast at upwards of 50 miles an hour. These winds are called Scirocco and an event can last from 1/2 day to several days. The wind makes it easier to farm organically as it helps to keep mold at bay.

Third, the southeast is unprotected from the autumn and winter rains but the combination of rapid runoff and early morning sun contribute to its attractiveness as a growing region 9especially for whites).

Tasting the Wines
Contrada dell'Etna day was bright and sunny and the crowds took full advantage of the conditions.


The organizers had divided the participating wineries into the broad categories shown below.The wines of interest fell into the Sud-Est category which included producers in the east, southeast, and southwest. The wines that we tasted are indicated by stars next to the producer names.

The stars indicate the producer wines tasted as
part of this exercise

The first producer that we visited was Monterosso. The grapes for this producer's wines are sourced from a 5-ha vineyard on the southeast flank of the mountain. The soil here is composed of alternating layers of sand and pumice stone. It has a reddish color -- a result of its high iron content -- and is light, airy, and porous. It is also rich in potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.

We tasted two wines from this producer: a 2017 Etna Bianco DOC (90% Carricante, 10% Catarratto) and Crater (100% Carricante. The former is from 700 m elevation while the latter is at 600 m. The Etna Bianco was big on the nose with sulfur, minerality, and white peaches and a florality. Acid and salinity on the palate. Dry finish. The Crater was more refined, almost austere. Greater minerality and less salinity.

Aurelio Marconi of Monterosso


Feudo Cavalieri is located on the southwest flank of the mountain with its Carricante grapes drawn from vineyards (ungrafted old plus newly planted) located between 950 and 990 m on the slope. The "land is composed of volcanic sands and 'ripiddu,' rich in minerals that tend to be acidic, well exposed and ventilated."

Its Etna Bianco 2016 was still on the lees (the wines are normally kept on the lees for 2 years). It was aromatic, with minerality, salinity, and citrus fruit dominant. The Etna Bianco 2017 was a tank sample and reminded me of dank charcoal. Less balanced in terms of salinity and minerality. The Millimetri 2014 was mineral, herbaceous, oily and chalky on the nose and those characteristics followed through to the palate.




La Gelsomina is located on the northeastern flank of the mountain. Its Bianca dell Contea is 97% Carricante and 3% Catarratto made from grapes grown at 550m. The soil is loose, of a volcanic nature, and rich in potassium. The 2016 Bianca dell Contea showed minerality and herbs on the nose and was all minerality on the palate. Salinity and acidity less than all wines tasted previously. Conversely, the most mineral wine tasted up to this point. Short, drying finish. The 2017 was very floral, with stone fruit and perfumed citrus. Mineral.



The Ciro Biondi grapes for its white wines are grown in Contrada Ronzini in the Municipality of Trecastagni on the southeast flank of the mountain. The soil here is volcanic with red pumice and elevation ranges between 640 and 700 m. The grapes for the Outis and Pianta wines are grown at 650 m.

Outis and Pianta are field blends of Carricante, Catarratto, and Minella with the latter vinified in wood and the former in stainless steel. The Outis showed white peach, white flowers, citrus, and minerality while the Pianto showed minerality and lime and appeared somewhat thin.


The Federico Curtaz Gamma is made from 100% Carricante grapes sourced from Milo on the eastern flank. I tasted both the 2016 and 2017 versions of this wine and was left wanting. The 2016 showed salinity and citrus but seemed light-bodied while the 2017 showed lemon and minerality.


Vini Eudes is located in Trecastagni on the southeast flank of the mountain. The winery produces an 80% Carricante wine called Bianco di Monte and a 100% Carricante. The former had a perfumed nose with traces of salinity, minerality, and lime skin. Precise and focused, a food-loving wine. Lemony lime on palate giving away to a mineral, saline finish.

The Carricante wine showed a limestone minerality, sulfur, creaminess, and salinity on the nose. Not as impressive on the palate. Short finish.

Like Feudo Cavaliere, Azienda Falcone is located on the southwest flank of the mountain in the town of Santa Maria di Licodia. The wine is 90% Carricante with the source grapes being grown at 900m. The wine had a stony minerality, creaminess, salinity, and citrus notes. Clean on the palate. A fair wine.


As is the case for the Santorini Assyrtikos, Carricante-based wines from the east to south flanks of Etna are characterized by salinity, minerality, and acidity and, at its optimum, these characteristics meld extremely well. These characteristics also allow the wines to age well (based on my experiences drinking aged Benanti Pietra Marina wines). While the characteristics of the wines are consistent, the quality of individual wines will vary based on winemaking practices, elevation, soil composition, and other related factors.

I love Assyrtiko. I also love well made Carricante-based wines from the east and southeast slopes of Mt. Etna. I will undertake a comprehensive review of the whites from the northern slope at some point in the future.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Friday, May 18, 2018

Pre-Contrada dell'Etna visit to the Calabretta (Randazzo, Mt Etna) cantina

On Saturday morning of Contrada dell'Etna weekend, we grabbed a quick coffee and headed off to a tasting of Calabretta wines at the estate's cantina which is housed in a three-level building in the heart of Randazzo. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Salvatore Caggegi, the estate's Agronomist and Cellar Master.

The Calabretta estate was founded in the early 1900s with the resulting products sold in bulk to restaurants and private customers. In 1997, Massimo and Massimiliano opted to bottle their best wines to sell on the commercial market.

The historical Calabretta vineyards was comprised of 7 ha of 60 - 80-year-old Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappucio vines located in Randazzo. The old vine stocks has been supplemented with an additional 3 ha. Within the past 5 years total vineyard hectares has been expanded with new plantings of Nerello Mascalese (1 ha), Carricante (1 ha), and Pinot Noir (1 ha).

The estate adheres to a sustainable, noninterventionist approach in both its grape-growing and winemaking activities. The grape vines are grown among olive trees and fruit orchards and never see chemical pesticides or herbicides (small quantities of copper sulphate and sulphurum are used to combat powdery and downy mildew). Old vineyards are head pruned while newer vineyards are trained Guyot.

Calabretta seeks to harvest perfectly ripe grapes and is aided in this quest by the volcanic soil, the temperature differential between daytime and nighttime temperatures, and the high incidence of solar exposure. Grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in small- and medium-sized barrels. The estate's wines are shown in the table below.

Label
Variet(y)ies
Contrada
Description
Cala Cala Rosso


Non-vintage cuvée
Rosato
Nerello Mascalese
Calderara
Mostly from young vineyards
Vigna Vecchie

Calderara/Taccione

Little A

Feudo di Mezzo

Nonna Concetta
Nerello Mascalese
Porcaria

Piedefranco
Nerello Mascalese
Taccione
Ungrafted
Cappuccio
Nerello Cappuccio

Young vineyards
Pinot Nero

Zocconero?Battiati

Gaio Gaio Rosso


Young vineyards. Sepcial fermentation to be more fruit-forward
Contrada dei Centenari

Solicchiata

Carricante
Carricante


Minella Bianco



Elisir


Semi-carbonic fermentation. Young vines
Cala Cala Bianco
Grillo



The first wine tasted on the premises was the 2017 Vigne Vecchi. This wine is made from grapes grown on ungrafted 80-year-old vines in Centenarian vineyards in the Contrada Calderara. The variety mix is 97% Nerello Mascalese with the remainder Nerello Cappuchio. The wines are macerated for a short while in steel vats and then transferred to large Slavonian vats for extended aging.

Writing about this wine in the Wall Street Journal (11/12/15), Lettie Teague had described it thusly: "... the style of this red is different from other more modern Etna Rosso bottlings. It is a soft Old World-style wine, with notes of earth and tobacco reminiscent of a traditional Barolo." This particular wine was too young to exhibit the characteristics of which she spoke but manifessted both dark and red fruit on the nose and rich blue fruit on the palate. Smooth.

Example of the large vats on premises

Salvatore Caggegi, Calabretta Cellar Master and
Agronomist

Cellar heaven


Sue, Parlo, and Lidia


The 2017 Passopisciaro is sourced from 60 - 80-year-old vines, is aged fro 8 - 10 months in used barriques, and is released to the market after 1 year. Vinosity. Structured, spicy red cherry. Light-bodied and high-toned. Soft tannins. Persistent, bitter finish.

Parlo, Brandon, Lidia, Salvatore, and Sue.

The 2017 Feudo di Mezzo is 100% Nerello Mascalese. Cherry and dark olives on the nose. Faded strawberry on the palate. Light but textured. Smoky.

The 2017 Cappuchio was aromatic, more so than the Nerello Mascalese. Match flint and spice. Short finish. Unimpressive.

The 2017 Pinot Noir was rich but seemed to lack balancing acidity.

We then doubled back and tasted a 2012 Vigna Vecchi. Brandon described this vintage as producing some of the most concentrated wines in Mt Etrna's history. This particular wine exhibited tobacco, ginger, port, balsamic, and green herbs on the nose. Concentrated on the palate with port, amarone, and walnut flavors. Powerful with strong tannins and a cupric finish.

These wines will benefit from the passage of time.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Still waiting for the Etna Contrada maps

Etna producers and the Consorzio continue to stress the importance of Contrada as a differentiating factor for its wines (much as cru is for the wines of Burgundy). And I continue to be frustrated by the lack of definitive data to allow fact-based comparisons and analysis of the wines of the region.

At the close of the 2017 Contrada dell'Etna, I was under the impression that Alessandro Masnaghetti, the famed Piemontese Cartographer, would be contracted to produce Etna maps akin to his Barolo MGA maps. I saw Masnaghetti earlier this year at Galloni's La Festa del Barolo and asked him how things were coming along on the project. He indicated that discussions had begun but he had not been contracted for the effort.

The producers in the 2018 Contrada were sectioned by Commune (as was the case last year). The identifying mortar board also had a listing of the Contrade included in the Commune (see below for an example).


A map (pictured below) was handed out late in the morning of Contrada dell'Etna.


I had a number of issues with the map:

  • It only captures the northern slope of the mountain
  • It does not clearly delimit the Communes
  • It is not clear which Contradas are associated with which Communes
  • It is not clear where the boundaries fall between the various Contradas
  • I am not sure that there is a one-to-one correlation between the Contradas listed on the map and the Contradas listed on the mortar boards
  • The map does not draw as heavily as it could have from the Geological Map of Etna.

The topmost category for the map is the Commune and that is a practice that Etna producers should adhere to. For the north slope, currently, the Commune is used as the highest level but in the southeast, the classification is geographic -- Southeast. I recommend that the relevant Communes -- Milo, for example, be used instead to ensure consistency of presentation.

In discussing this issue with Massimiliano Calabretta (Calabretta Winery), he said that the real problem is that the Consorzio is awaiting the boundary lines from the Communes. "This is Italy," he says. "They wrote the boundaries rather than drawing them on a map."

When all is said and done, I think that the Consorzio has to provide the following types of data in order to allow quality comparative analyses:

  • Delimited Contradas by Commune (with explanation if a Contrada spans multiple Communes)
  • Size (ha) of each Contrada
  • Exposition of each Contrada
  • Elevation range of each Contrada
  • Soil types for each Contrada
  • Variety percentage by Contrada
  • Producers sourcing fruit from each Contrada
  • Cru bottlings for each Contrada
  • Eventually, drawings showing ownership of each vineyard in a Contrada

This is by no means a comprehensive list but I would be happy to work with such a dataset.


©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Friday, May 4, 2018

Greek Wine Dinner at K Restaurant (Orlando, FL)

I have an abiding interest in Greek wines due to my tasting travels in the region and the number of friends I have made during those trips. I was considering attending the upcoming Greek Wine Dinner at K Restaurant and was still in the deliberative phase when I received a direct communication from Michelle Hulbert, the restaurant's Pastry Chef, inviting us to the event. I decided to take her up on the invitation.

The event was being held in the Garden House, a newly rented, event space located next to the main restaurant. Passing through the front entrance we were confronted by two rows of dressed tables and presentation equipment against the southern wall. A few guests had already arrived and we introduced ourselves as we sought seating that would position us best for the presentation.




After all the attendees had gathered, we were welcomed by K Restaurant Owner and Executive Chef Chad Phelps. He thanked us for coming and laid out his thought process in putting together the tasting. At the end of his remarks, he turned the floor over to Lawrence Head of Breakthrough Beverages who would be leading us through the tasting.

Chad Phelps, Executive Chef and Owner,
K Restaurant

The first dish was a Grilled Manouri Cheese on Pita garnished with Arugula and with oregano and lemon. Tasty and refreshing. The Pita was unyielding to the cutlery and had to be "handed."

This dish was accompanied by the 2016 Alpha Estate Malagouzia. Aromatic. Green herbs and pineapple. Full, round mouthfeel. Brightness on the palate along with power and minerality. Persistent minerality. Powerful in relation to the Malagouzias from Porto Carras and Geravassiliou.

Grilled Manouri Cheese

Ryan McLaughlin, Chef de Cuisine

The second course was a Greek Salad accompanied by a 2016 Domaine Santo Assyrtiko.

This was a beautifully constructed salad with heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, Kalamata Olives, Feta cheese mousse, oregano, lemon, and olive oil. In the US, Greek salads are often encumbered with lettuce and other arcana, straying from the traditional path. This salad stayed true. I normally prefer my feta cheese in slabs at the top of the salad, rather than as a mousse, but the dish did not suffer from the change. Excellent.

The Assyrtiko was mineral on the nose with a hint of salinity. Broad on the palate, saline, mineral, citrus. Not as razor-sharp as I like my Assyrtikos.

Greek Salad

The third course was a Grilled Swordfish and Octopus dish accompanied by the 2015 Douloufakis Liatiko.

The Swordfish and Octopus laid on a bed of fennel, artichokes, garbanzo beans, peppers, and herbs all in a tomato and seafood broth. The Octopus was pleasingly spicy. The Swordfish was extremely tender, an experience with which I am unfamiliar. Loved the dish.

The Douloufakis Liatiko showed tar, dark olives, and blue fruit on the nose. Light-bodied. Dark and red fruits. Savory. Mineral. Drying finish. Does not engage the full palate. Will benefit from some aging.

Swordfish and Octopus

The Lamb Chop course was accompanied by the 2013 Kir-Yianni Ramnista. The Lamb dish included oregano roasted potatoes, fava beans, and house-made yogurt. This was a wonderful dish. Beautiful pink color. Nice salty texture and buttery feel.

The Ramnista showed tomato, tomato leaf, herbs, savoriness, and salinity. An explosion of fruit on the palate. Dark red fruit, spice, licotice, salinity, and tar. Better three or so years down the road.

Lamb Chop

Table mates

The dessert course was a Honeycake, supported by an Orange Blossom Glaze and a Yogurt Sauce. Michelle did her usual excellent job on this one. The dish was accompanied by the 2016 Kir-Yianni Akakis Sparkling Rosé. Strawberry and spice on the nose. Unappealing.

Honeycake

Michelle Hulbert, Pastry Chef

I really enjoyed this dinner. Generally I am more interested in the wine part of these dinners but the food quality and taste was of such a high quality that it easily eclipsed the wines. Kudos to Chad and his team. I think that Ryan has stepped into the ranks of the top-tier chefs in Orlando with this performance

     ©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Review: Peter Liem's Champagne

Champagne lovers are swimming in a sea of plenty with the recent release of three high-quality books on the topic: David White's excellent But First, Champagne, Robert Walters' Grower-focused Bursting Bubbles, and the subject book, Peter Liem's Champagne. If you could only buy one of the three, I would strongly recommend the latter. This book is a tour de force that is backed by the author's 10 years of living among, and writing about, the Champenois and their wines.

Source: penguinrandomhouse.com

In objective and thrust, The Liem and Walters book mirror each other. They both feel that the traditional Champagne Houses and methods consign the beverage to a place that is atypical when compared to other fine wines. Rather than celebrating "place," Champagne celebrates the winemaking and blending processes. But having lived in Champagne for over 10 years, and having tasted myriad vin clair wines, Liem has come to the conclusion that Champagne can be a terroir-expressive wine (the same conclusion reached and proffered by Walters).

In the Preface of his book , Liem states, "The contemporary movement in Champagne ... is, rather simply, the acknowledgment of champagne as a wine like any other":
... a new generation of producers are asking a more complex and detailed set of questions, employing more conscientious viticultural techniques and deepening their understanding of agricultural expression to present a more precise portrait of place ... this proliferation of new champagnes offers an unprecedented opportunity to glimpse the intricacies of Champagnes's terroir.
 There are challenges still to be solved on the way to defining this terroir:
It is still not yet possible to write a comprehensive analysis of Champagne terroirs, given the lack of tools and information available compared with other historic regions. However, it is my hope that this book can in some small way help to push the dialogue further toward acknowledging champagne as a terroir-expressive wine, and to provide a foundation for envisioning that."
The chart below shows the organization of the Peter Liem book and, at first blush, it covers all the bases of what one would expect from a wine-region-based book. As a matter of fact, there is some similarity to the White book both in terms of organization and practice. In terms of practice, some of the same devices (sidebars, etc.) are employed effectively in both books. But there are significant differences in coverage areas; where White eschews coverage of viticulture and viniculture, those areas are critical elements of the Liem book -- and are handled masterfully. But even in the areas of similar coverage the assurance and depth in the Liem book is surpassing.


What distinctively sets Liem apart from the competition, however, is his treatment of terroir.

The conventional approach to regionalizing Champagne shows Champagne's vineyards extending over 4 districts (shown in the map below), 20 sub-regions and 319 villages.  The districts are Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, and Côte des Bar.

Source: champagne.fr

In Champagne, Peter Liem expands the districts from four to seven. The new schema: divides the Vallée de la Marne into the Grand Vallée and the Vallée de la Marne; adds the Coteaux Sud d'Épernay; and combines the disparate zones between the heart of Champagne and Côte de Bar into a single sub-zone. The construct of this schema is illustrated in the map below.


Liem walks us through the villages associated with each of these sub-regions and the lieux-dits of note in each of these villages. He provides descriptions of the soils of these Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards, and included lieux-dits, and details the types of wine they produce. He tells of conversations and tasting with the principals producing wines from these terroirs. The granularity is unparalleled.





At the conclusion of each section on the reconstituted districts, Liem provides recommendations for terroir-expressive wines from that region.

The book is beautifully packaged in a two-compartment box set with one compartment containing the book and the other reproductions of long-lost maps of the Champagne region. The front cover is adorned with a picture of multiple bases of Champagne bottles and rich golden text listing the book title and the author's name. The paper on which the book is printed is thick and rich and the included photography compares very favorably with that employed by Walters, for example.

Source: Peter Liem's Champagne

I strongly recommend this book.


©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Montaigne de Reims: Selected Premier Cru sites

Explicit in Peter Liem's Champagne is the idea that the important terroirs in Champagne's  Montagne de Reims subregion are Grande Montagne, Petite Montagne, and Massif de St. Thiery. I have described the Grand Cru sites of the Grande Montagne in a prior post. Herein I present the Premier Cru sites of Grand and Petite Montagnes as well as important villages of Massif de St. Thiery.

Massif de St Thierry
The 17 villages located in Massif de St. Thierry are beautifully framed by surrounding vineyards and forests. The region's vinous history stretches back to the 11th century when the renown of the wines from the Abbey resulted in the  awarding of a Champagne appellation: the wines of the Montagne de Saint-Thierry. Phylloxera and two World Wars significantly reduced the size of the vineyard but it has rebounded to today's 1001.9 ha. Pinot Meunier (54.31%), Pinot Noir (28.64%), and Chardonnay (16.85%) are the region's staples.

Vineyards of Massif de St Thierry (Source: massif-saint-
thierry.com)

The most important of these villages is Merfy whose vineyards extend over 45.6 ha and rest on soils comprised of clay, sand, and sandstone over chalk. The vineyard slopes are mild with varying exposures. The Merfy village outline is shown in the picture below while the vineyard plots are shown immediately after.

The Merfy vineyards are outlined in red above

Merfy vineyard parcels


Grande and Petite Montagnes
Montagne de Reims is more of a wide plateau than a mountain as its horseshoe shape -- open to the west -- is only 293 m (940 feet) at its highest point. The plateau is mostly covered with thick forests with vineyards occupying the flanks and, depending on their position on the horseshoe, having exposures ranging between northwest and south.

Grande Montagne occupies the northern, eastern, and southern slopes of the horseshoe while Petite Montagne, a lower slope, occupies a northwesterly offshoot. Petite Montagne is 30-ha in size and is one of the two primary homes of Pinot Meunier in Champagne (the other being Vallée de la Marne). The distribution of varieties in the sub-zone is 50% Pinot Meunier, 35% Pinot Noir, and the remainder Chardonnay.

Premier Cru sites can be found at all exposures on the "mountain" as pictured on the map below and  detailed in the table following.

Source: wineroutesfrance.com


Table 1. Premier Cru villages on the Grande Montagne
Village
Description
Soil
Lieux-dits
Tauxières
-          Pinot Noir 80 – 90% of plantings
-          On north bank of the Marne
-          10 inches of topsoil above a very dry chalk
-          Less warm and more cold wind than Bouzy so takes longer to ripen

Trépail
-          Planted almost entirely with Chardonnay
-          Separated from Villers-Marmery by a thick band of forest
-          True mountain wine but with a specific chalk-driven tension and intense minerality
-          Cold and high in elevation. Prone to mildew
-          Chalky terroir yields wines that are racy and austere
-          15 – 30 inches of topsoil above chalky bedrock (deeper towards the northern side of the village

Villers-Marmery
-          Chardonnays that are primarily used in blends

-          Champs d’Enfer – stony, chalky area on the south side of village
-          Brocot – deeper soils
-          Les Alouettes-Saint-Belzs – warm vineyard with a lot of chalk and little topsoil
Ludes
Four distinct sectors:
-          Cran de Ludes
-          Area around the village
-          Area around La Grosse Pierre
-          At the limit of the Ludes boundary
-          Cran de Ludes has very little topsoil, a thin layer of clay then chalk
-          Area around village does not have a lot of topsoil and wines close ones palate
-          Further down the slope has more clay and sand
-          Limit of the Ludes boundary




-          Les Beaux Regards




-          La Grosse Pierre


-          Les Monts Fournois
Chigny-les-Roses
-          131.9 ha
-          58% PM, 24% PN, 18% Chardonnay

-          Le Clos des Pêcherines
-          Clos du Moulins
-          Les Pêcherines
Rilly-La-Montagne
-          312 ha
-          38.9% PN, 36.6% PM, 24% Chardonnay


-          Le Bas Clos
-          Les Bas Moutions
-          Les Clos
-          Les Clos Dérard
-          Les Clos de Prés
-          Les Clos Saint Paul
-          Les Clos Yons
Table constructed with information gleaned from Peter Liem's Champagne and winetomas.wordpress.com, North-facing; East-facing; South-facing

Petite Montagne
The villages of Gueux, Écueil, and Vrigny are of importance in this sub-zone.

Gueux, according to Walters, is located on the northern edge of the Petite Montagne zone. Its soil is a mix of sand, calcareous elements, and tiny marine fossils which date to 45 million years ago. According to winetomas.wordpress.com, the vineyards of this village cover 19.8 ha (489 acres) and is distributed between Pinot Meunier (84.5%), Pinot Noir (11.7%), and Chardonnay (3.8%). Jérôme Prévost is a producer of note in this village.

The villages of Écueil and Vrigny are both east-facing slopes with the former's clay, limestone, and chalk soil (akin to Burgundy) rendering it suitable for Pinot Noir. Most of the other villages in this sub-zone lie on sandy soils which are more suited to Pinot Meunier production. Écueil is 144.9 ha in size of which 76.3% is dedicated to Pinot Noir, 11.8% to Chardonnay, and 11.9% to Pinot Meunier. Sand on the lower slopes act as a foil to phylloxera and some ungrafted vines are planted here. Les Chaillots and Les Gilles are noted lieux-dits in this village. Producers of note in this village are Frédéric Savart and Nicolas Maillart.

Vrigny is 90.7 ha in size with 71.7% planted to Pinot Meunier, 19.5% Pinot Noir, and 9.3% Chardonnay. The slopes in this village are gentle, with varying exposures, and the soils are limestone and calcareous clay. Important lieux-dits are Les Champs de Vallier, Les Clos, Les Linguets, and Les Près, the latter of which rests on deep, fossil-bearing soils. Notable producers are Egly-Ouriet and Roger Coulon.

This submittal completes the review of the Montagne de Reims sub-region of Champagne. See here for a review of the Grand Cru vineyards.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme