The Chartogne family arrived in Merfy in 1870, and in 1920 Marie Chartogne married Etienne Taillet, creating the Chartogne-Taillet estate. Since 1978 it has been managed by Philippe Chartogne and his wife Elisabeth, and their son Alexandre is now in charge of the cellars and vineyards.
Alexandre Chartogne worked a stage with Anselme Selosse, which has heavily influenced his ideas on viticulture. Today, all of Chartogne's parcels are plowed where possible, and numerous cover crops are grown between the rows of vines. Above all, the viticulture is focused on preserving and expressing the distinct characters of Merfy's various terroirs. "What is unusual about Merfy is that we have clay and sand over chalk," says Alexandre, "so the vines are living in two different environments. It's important that the roots go deep into the ground in order to extract real minerality, and sometimes our roots go down more than 20 metres." each parcel is vinified seperately, and fermentation is largely in stainless steel tanks, although some wood is now used, particularly for a parcel of old-vine, ungrafted meunier that has just had its first release, the 2006 'Les Barres' Extra Brut.
Chartogne-Taillet's wines are harmonious and deliciously satisfying, and in the last few years they have become increasingly more vinous and complex in expression, reflecting the focus on a more sensitive viticulture. They are strongly driven by the terroir of the Massif de St-Thierry, shaped by the sand and clay soils of the region, and they are the finest champagnes being made today in this historically important area north of Reims. While Alexandre Chartogne is not necessarily a partisan of ultra-low dosage, the dosage levels have recently been decreasing here in response to riper fruit, resulting in a more vibrant balance and intensity. Alexandre's work so far has been very impressive, and this is definitely an estate on its way up.