Producer In Focus
Franck Pascal, Champagne, France
Champagne with Energy
With supermarkets trying to grab our attention with their best Christmas fizz offers it's no wonder that many people will be drinking cheap, mass-market own brands or the standard Grandes Marques (big brands) champagnes that are made in such quantity that they have to blend dozens of different ingredients to produce a consistent style.
In some circles, it would take a certain confidence to serve champagne from a lesser-known grower, however good, but for those of you in the know… the alternative is lovingly crafted grower champagne which you can very much take confidence in serving at any occasion.
But what does grower champagne actually mean? Put simply, grower champagne producers are those who make their own wines with the grapes from their own vineyards, meaning that these winemakers have complete control over the quality of farming and winemaking.
One man who takes this notion to the highest level is Franck Pascal - an endangered type of winegrower, connected to the cycles of nature and its energy.
Franck is above all, someone who lives life to the full, a custodian of nature and a fastidious winemaker. Located in the Baslieux-Sous-Châtillon region of Champagne, Franck Pascal and his wife Isabelle take care of 7 hectares of biodynamically cultivated vines. But to say that Franck simply works organically or biodynamically would stifle him. We talk to Franck about his unique connection to cultivating the land and what is it that makes his NV "Reliance" Brut Nature so full of energy.
With Franck Pascal
What can you tell us about your unique approach to winemaking and methods used to make NV, "Reliance" Brut Nature?
The Ancestral method is the approach that we take as opposed to the traditional method which is commonly used in the production of Champagne. This method dates back to 1531 and was created by the Benedictine monks of Saint-Hilaire, in the Languedoc. All of the sugars come from the grape itself - there is no dosage, or sugar addition at harvest time, which we believe would modify the taste and diminish the true nature of the wine.
This means that the vineyards must be in the greatest health and the base wine must be of the highest quality as there is nothing to hide behind, nothing added, the wines are naked so to speak, so our understanding of the vines and symbiosis with nature is key.
It is the life present in the wine that shapes it day after day. To find the right balance between distance and presence, between letting go and intervention. Much like a father is to his child. This is why we eliminate all substances that can inhibit the wines true potential.
Each of our wines are eloquently individual, an expression of the growing season, together with our personal winemaking philosophy and techniques.
“We are driven by the desire to create authentic and sincere cuvées, of which previous and future generations can be proud. I work to leave a living legacy to my children and my relatives."
How do these methods improve the taste of the champagne?
Over the years, we have learned to produce exceptional champagne; you have to develop an organic method and abandon chemicals. This is how we improve the grape's taste because the vine better captures the elements surrounding it. For us, Biodynamics give a holistic common direction to the vineyard and acts as a conductor. As a result, the quality of the grape increases.
"The equation is simple: the more we respect the balance of nature, the more we improve the quality of the end product. Everything is intrinsically linked."
The symbiosis between nature and mankind is prevalent in all of your champagnes. What can you tell us about the NV, "Reliance" Brut Nature and the meaning of the name?
Reliance means ‘connecting’ - it’s the linking of the ancient methods of making champagne to the present day and linking mankind to nature.
We have developed a deep sensitivity for nature, the human body and the energy treatments carried out on our vines. We know that our methods play a role in your health and well-being. Signs such as drinkability, digestibility, and salivation attest to this. Our wines speak for themselves.