Among Champagne's rising stars is one young and motivated talent, Raphael Bérèche, who takes great care to craft Champagnes that are fine, fresh and get ever better as the years go by. With new releases appearing every other year, this is one estate to watch in the area.
Raphael Bérèche is a motivated young man. In his late twenties, he is determined to take the small family estate (now in the fifth generation) to another level. To do so, he has converted the agriculture to byodinamic methods, and intensely works the soil on his vineyards. He uses the oak of one of Burgundy's rising stars: Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, and in some cases even that of the Romanée Conti. His approach to wine making is a non-interventionist one, which results in wines that are "real", pure and very satisfying as they have not been manipulated much in the cellar. For him, the majority of the work is done in the vineyard, in order to yield the finest quality grapes possible. After that, not much is required he says, and the results confirm the words.
In addition to his obsession with the wines he makes, he loves eating and cooking, and is of such a warm nature that his wines have all the ingredients to taste great. And that, they certainly do, from the basic, pleasant and simple Brut Réserve up to the two top cuvées Reflét d'Antan and Instant nearly all of his wines share a couple of common characteristics. They are fresh, lively Champagnes, which have a real sense of place and individuality. When walking through some of his parcels in Ludes, on the Montagne de Reims with him and then tasting the phenomenal Extra Brut, you smell, and taste, a real connection. The wine has an earthy, delicately smoky character, which really makes it unique. Coming away with a dosage of as little as 2g, one feels no austerity, or unpleasant acidity. This is of course the case in all of his wines, as he picks ripe grapes, even if he says that picking relatively early is what he wants to do, to maintain a certain vibrancy.
All of the wines have it, except maybe one very particular one: Reflet d'Antan. Made in a réserve perpétuelle way, which is a little like the Solera method. It combines characteristics of old and new. Having certain flavours of aged wine, combined with a fruit-structure and perlage of much younger ones, it is a truly unique effort. Whilst being more concentrated and powerful than his other Champagnes, this also has more richness and depth. It is a wine that will certainly not please everyone, but is absolutely worth seeking out. Paired with truffled sweetbreads, as Raphael recommends, it is absolutely divine