Champagne Franck Pascal is set over 4 hectares, producing 60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. Small parcels over 7 different villages in the Vallee de la Marne, managed by the cave Baslieux-sous-Chatillons, where wood finds a very low usage during vinification, in order to exalt the terroir and its unique features.
This area is dominated by the Pinot Meunier variety because it has its débourragae (budding) later than Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, as much as ten days later, which can save the buds when frost threatens precisely at the time they’re coming out, which is frequent in this area. Franck saw this happen in 2003, the other varietals suffered heavy frost damage while the Pinot Meunier fared well.
Frank’s journey to becoming a maker of Champagne is a simple but interesting one. Having set off on a career path as a chemical engineer, a job that included training members of the military to deal with chemical warfare, he was shocked to discover that many similar chemicals were used in viticulture. He returned to Champagne in 1994 and set about converting the practices of his family estate to biodynamic principles. The decision came as a result of observing that the wines were best expressed through biodynamic methods, not simply following an ideology or as a reaction to what he already knew about industrial chemistry
Franck Pascal is a vigneron embracing the rules of biodynamics. After adopting organic farming (2000) and cultivation methods (2003), he obtained an organic certification by Ecocert in 2004. He obtained his Biodyvin certification in 2005 and with his wife, Isabelle, they lovingly produced the very first biodynamic certified champagnes in 2008.
In fact, he goes much further than many others in attempting to create the perfect wine, bringing in not just natural, organic and biodynamic principles but also naturopathic ideas more commonly associated with acupuncture. This involves considering the energy levels in living things, from the vine to the soil itself. Treating the vines in this way, he believes, gives them the ability to reach their full potential. He even convinced his compost producer to create a new form of fertiliser, based on lab analysis of his own soil. It contains volcanic sulphur, which allows the liberation of elements that are usually trapped in the limestone. This is one way of recovering the microorganisms often lost after years of conventional farming.
Champagne Franck Pascal produces all of their cuvées all vinified with indigenous yeasts. Champagne as a wine region has a yearly output of 300-310 million bottles, and the 7 hectare domain of Franck and Isabelle will bottle around 55,000 per year. The yields are lower on this vineyard with an average 8,000 to 11,500 kg/ha, yielding 50-70 hectolitres of wine.
Pascal’s superb wines are the product of an intelligent and deeply committed grower and further evidence of the Marne Valley’s ability to stand tall as a source of some of the most interesting grower Champagnes.