CHAMPAGNE HERBERT & CO. RILLY-LA-MONTAGNE
In 1920, the Herbert-Pechon family began growing grapes in the village of Rilly-la-Montagne. Fernand Herbert managed his vineyards and sold to the local cooperative of which he also served as President. It wasn’t until 1959 that some of their grape harvest would go in to making their own bottles of Champagne Maison Herbert. In 1982 Didier Herbert took over and today, the 3rd generation, his son Thomas, along with his wife Marie-Charlotte, run the estate.
The pair look after 5.6 hectares of vines in 5 villages divided over 30 different plots. The Grand Cru villages of Mailly Champagne and Verzenay along with premier cru plots in Rilly-la-Montagne, Ludes and Trois-Puits combine to keep the quality and complexity of the resulting wines at a very high level. Their approach in the vineyards is one of sustainability and balance. There are no herbicides or pesticides used in the vineyard and cover crops keep biodiversity high. All the work is done manually and in harmony with the cycles of nature. Though not a strict adherent; there are many biodynamic aspects to wine growing decisions made among the vines. Most years the farming is strictly organic, intervention only occurring when nature requires a little extra help. Pruning, green harvest and other decisions are taken to ensure that the best concentration and complexity of aromas can be achieved in the cellar.
Thomas likes to say that, “90% of the result of champagne is made in the vineyard, the rest is love and blending.” Grapes are harvested at maximum ripeness paying close attention to taste, not just pH. Vinification occurs in a mix of new and old Rousseaux barrels from Burgundy and only the best barrels make the final blends. The idea is to make wines of concentrated fruit, and complex mouthfeel all with as much finesse as possible. Intervention in the cellar is minimal, it is only to amplify what nature has given and all wines rest a minimum of 3 years on lees after 9 months in barrel.