The Champagne house Diebolt-Vallois is to be found in Cramant, a village in the Côtes des Blancs, whose chalky soil makes the perfect home for Chardonnay vines. It is certainly one of the finest terroirs in the Champagne region.
Diebolt-Vallois’ style beautifully captures just how thrilling the champagnes from Côte des Blancs chalky soils are. Their signatures are classy, finessed wines with a kinetic energy, laser-like focus, and tense minerality.
The Diebolt family has lived in Cramant since the end of the 19th century and the Vallois family has been cultivating vines in Cuis since the 15th Century. Although Jacques Diebolt started working with his grandfather, it was not until 1978 that the estate underwent a sea-change with the extension of the estate and the construction of the cellars, and then a winery.
Today Diebolt-Vallois champagnes are the progeny of a united family: Jaques Diebolt and Nadia Vallois are helped by their two children, Arnaud and Isabelle, who are taking an ever increasingly active part in the running of the estate.
Their vineyards cover 11 hectares (26 acres) of which the great majority are in Cramant and Cuis, two villages which are classed as Grand Cru (Great Growth) and Premier Cru (First Growth) respectively.
Other plots are at Chouilly (another Grand Cru village) and on the hillsides at Epernay (vineyards called Les Toulettes and Les Hautes Justices). All of these are planted entirely in Chardonnay. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines on the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Bar complete the estate’s holdings.
The Cramant soil consists of a layer of light earth over a chalk subsoil, suiting Chardonnay, it produces champagnes which show fruit, power and rich texture. The vines in Cuis also benefit from chalky slopes, their grapes bring minerality and delicacy with good acidity which must be allowed to mellow. The vines from Epernay slopes give wines that are balanced, round and full.
The vineyards are managed using traditional methods, with a minimum of treatment. The plots which will benefit from it are being progressively grassed over.
The grapes are hand picked and each plot is picked and vinfied separately. The harvest is either pressed in a traditional vertical press, or pneumatically. Only the juice from the first pressing is kept for the Blanc de Blancs. Depending upon the wine, fermentation is either carried out in thermostatically controlled vats, or in wooden barrels. Malolactic fermentation takes place in all the wines except Fleur de Passion.
Reserve wines are stocked in a vat or 40hl casks in a deep cellar, 14 metres underground to mature gently and steadily. These reserved wines give warmth and roundness to the Champagne.
After bottling, the wines carry out their second fermentation and develop their mousse in cellars, which are hewed out from Cramant chalk. They age there several years before being disgorged and usually dosed at 6 to 8 g/l.
Diebolt-Vallois is one of the finest winemakers on the Côte des Blancs. Chardonnay is the king of the Diebolt-Vallois range, tense, lively and full of freshness. Prestige symbolizes Diebolt-Vallois style and know-how, with more toasted and fruity aromas. It is a generous and balanced cuvée. Finally, the flagship of the range, the Fleur de Passion cuvée, is quite simply praised by the best connoisseurs, who rank it among the best Champagnes in the world.