The quality of its grapes is primarily what makes Beaumont des Crayères a great Champagne. The expertise of its 250 member growers is instrumental in promoting this quality. All year round, come rain, come shine, they keep a close eye on their vines to ensure they produce the finest grapes.
Three-quarters of Beaumont des Crayères' vineyards are located on the outskirts of Epernay, in the village of Mardeuil. The house also boasts plots in Damery, Cumières, Hautvillers and Dizy as well as in Pierry, Vinay and Epernay.
Due to the specific characteristics of its soils and particularly its climate, wine growing is a challenging occupation in Champagne. Technical skills and passion are required to ensure vines thrive in this northerly region. From pruning and training through to harvesting, most work in the vineyard is done by hand. And out of respect for this unique natural heritage, the wine growers have been applying the principles of sustainable culture for a long time.
At the end of the summer, technical staff at Beaumont des Crayères track the pace of ripening as soon as the grapes start to change colour, so as to adjust the rate of harvesting depending on conditions each year. By monitoring ripeness, they can also select single-vineyard sites that are home to the best quality vines - these are earmarked for the prestige cuvees. The grapes are selected depending on their quality and degree of ripeness as soon as they are picked and undergo further checks on their arrival at the press so that substandard grapes can be discarded.
Pressing is one of the secrets of the quality of Beaumont des Crayères Champagne. As part of its holistic approach to quality, further selection is carried out at the press. The house has also invested in a cutting-edge pressing room in the heart of its vineyards to ensure grapes are processed in the best possible way.
This is crucial because two out of the three Champagne cultivars produce black grapes with white flesh. Hand harvesting, reduced waiting time for grapes and complex pressing techniques combine at Beaumont to ensure that the future Champagne will not change colour.
The Champagne appellation requires specific output during pressing and the juice has to be subdivided depending on quality levels: the first juice, which is the finest, is called cuvee; the last is called the second pressing. To maintain high standards, Beaumont des Crayères quite simply removes the second pressing juice from its blends.
The house has an even more demanding approach to quality and has introduced a higher level of differentiation whereby the ‘coeur de cuvee' is separated from the second cuvee. Its vintage and prestige Champagnes are only made from the ‘coeur de cuvee' selections which boast unrivalled ageing capacity.
As the custodian of the house's high standards, the Beaumont des Crayères' cellar master lavishes utmost care and attention on wine making and blending of his Champagnes. Must from each grape variety, individual batches and the various single-vineyard selections are fermented separately. This technique gives him an extensive array of wines to marry during blending.
Fermenting the wines separately also means that wine making can be tailored to suit each cuvee. To ensure the highest level of proficiency, racking and the various types of fermentation are conducted in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. For the prestige cuvees, some of the wines are aged in oak, imparting greater aromatic intensity, substance on the palate and length.
A few weeks after the harvest, the blending season begins with a series of blind tastings involving all the wines from the current harvest and reserve wines. For the house's team of wine makers, this is another stage of selection designed to identify the wines that will, or will not, be used in blends of Beaumont des Crayères Champagne. Over the course of several months, the tastings for blending occur: this long, painstaking process is designed to define the exact proportions of each wine in each of the cuvees.
Blending is a key stage in the making of a great Champagne. For Beaumont des Crayères, blending is imbued with a sense of magic such are the astounding results of this fusion of cuvees in terms of smell and taste profiles.
The true magic of Champagne subsequently occurs in the dark, cool cellars. The second fermentation in the bottle creates a refined effervescence in what is poised to become the king of all wines. At Beaumont des Crayères, the unique character of its Champagnes can finally be revealed after extensive ageing.
One of Champagne's defining features is the outstanding ageing capacity of its wines. Nowhere else does time imbue wines with such elegance. Fully aware of this precious asset, the cellar master at Beaumont des Crayères lets time work its magic for many long years.
Although by law, dry Champagnes without a vintage statement are required to age on laths for at least fifteen months, rising to three years for vintage Champagnes, Beaumont des Crayères Champagne is aged for at least between two and four years for the non-vintage dry Champagnes, five years for the vintage Champagnes and ten for the prestige cuvee.
After spending several years in the cellar, Beaumont des Crayères Champagne thus acquires an effervescence and mature aromas of unparalleled finesse.
Disgorgement offers the cellar master an opportunity to put the finishing touches to his opus. Beaumont des Crayères Champagne's remarkable personality is brought to its culmination through dosage.
After ageing, the sediment trapped in the bottle is ejected by riddling and disgorgement. Before new stoppers are put on the bottles, dosage is added.
A mixture of wine and sugar cane, the liqueur is crucial to Champagne because it defines the sweetness levels, producing either ‘brut' Champagne - like the Grande Réserve - medium-dry like the Grand Nectar, or ‘brut nature' such as the vintage Fleur de Meunier.
The choice of liqueur wine and amount added are instrumental to the quality of the resultant Champagne. They allow Beaumont des Crayères to perfect its style, which is why the house produces a specific liqueur for each of its cuvees.
For Beaumont des Crayères, disgorgement is such a crucial stage that it is one of only a few houses that state the disgorgement date on the back of each bottle, and has done for many years. Connoisseurs can therefore fully appreciate the house's Champagnes knowing exactly when they were disgorged. This is essential because the taste of Champagne changes from fresh to more mature depending on whether dosage was added three months or two years ago.
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