Inspired by Burgundy to make wines of character true to their place, Agrapart uphold terroir as being more important than variety. Chardonnay comprises 95% of almost 12 hectares of enviable estate planting, mainly in the grand crus of Avize, Oger, Cramant and Oiry, divided across 62 plots of vines of an impressive average age of 40 years – some more than 65 years.
The House was founded in 1894 by Arthur Agrapart and extended by his grandson Pierre in the 1950’s-1960’s. This has become one of the finest grower estates in the Côte des Blancs under its current proprietor, Pascal Agrapart, who has been making wines here since 1984.
Every effort is focused on encouraging the roots of these old vines into the mother rock to draw out the mineral character of each site. Vineyard management is painstakingly eco-friendly, with no chemical pesticides or herbicides used. Vineyards are ploughed to break up surface roots, aerate the soil and maintain microbial life, while organic fertilisers, compost and manure are adapted according to soil analyses.
Pascal Agrapart upholds that ‘25% of the wine is made by soil and 25% by the weather’, and points out that micro-climates are very different in each of his parcels. This poses a greater challenge to an organic regime than would a single site.
Each winemaking element is designed to preserve the detail of the vineyard. Sensitive use of the large (600L) old oak for vinification and ageing of finer parcels for vintage wines, and non-vintage reserves are not for woody flavour, but oxidation. He buys five-year-old barrels from Burgundy and the Loire and maintains them until they’re very old.
Wild yeasts from the vineyards further draw out the character of each site. Full malolactic fermentation is encouraged, which removes the need for sterile filtration and high levels of sulphur dioxide preservative. The results are usually clean and precise.
Long ageing on the lees for a minimum of three years for non-vintage and seven for vintage cuvées necessitates a stock of 360,000 bottles to sustain an annual production of 90,000. Significant production for hand-riddling!
Most of Agrapart’s seven cuvées are blanc de blancs, with pinot in his entry level wine, and a single-field blend of six grape varieties. Low dosages are added throughout.
Agrapart’s wines are characterful, deeply mineral expressions of great, enduring terroirs of the Côte des Blancs, given articulate voice through diligent attention to detail.