David Léclapart: Like a diamond; tiny but brilliant
Despite his youth (own label started in 1998) and the minuscule, 1000 case production from his tiny 3 hectares of vines, David Léclapart’s particular talent is well recognized by Richard Juhlin, the self-styled ‘gentleman of champagne.’ In his monumental reference ‘A Scent of Champagne.’ Juhlin praises Léclapart for “the masterpieces he creates in harmony with nature.” Furthermore, among the hundreds of producers he writes about, Richard Juhlin rates David Léclapart among only a handful of 4 -star producers. Only Krug (of course) Roederer (predictably) Jacquesson (curiously) and Selosse (naturally) rate higher, with 5 stars.
The Torch Passed
Of all of the apostles and acolytes of Anselme Selosse, the father of the growers own label movement, David Léclapart is surely the heir to Selosse’s Pan-like spirit. Léclapart is a man of the vines. To him, the vineyard is the subject to which the vintage adds some color. But where Selosse was perhaps whimsical, Léclapart is determined and driven. He is determined to express the character of his tiny three hectares of vineyards and he is driven to see his vision of unique batches from harvest through to bottling, almost regardless of any pressing commercial considerations.
Léclapart’s wines are unquestionably and emphatically biodynamic. He is a farmer first, before winemaker, eschewing blending and only bottling wines from single harvests (though the ‘vintage’ can only be deduced from the lot number, as they have not always adhered to the fine print of the code for true vintage dated champagne on the label.) All primary fermentations are by natural yeasts and all see 100% malo-lactic conversion. His best sites are fermented in small old wood barrels that lend his wines a powerfully vinous character of roundness and maturity that persists through secondary fermentation. Production is tiny, barely totaling 1000 cases a year across all his releases. So clearly, Léclapart’s wines are made for the true champagne connoisseur. They are made for those who appreciate both individuality and rigor. But they also express and carry forth a passion that is proudly worthy of the great pioneer and iconoclast himself, Anselme Selosse.
The Wines of David Léclapart
David Leclapart Extra Brut Cuvee L’Amateur NV
$75 per bottle
David Leclapart Blanc de Blancs Cuvee L’Artiste NV
$110 per bottle
93 points Vinous: The NV (2009) Extra Brut L’Artiste (Chardonnay) emerges from two parcels in Trépail. Open and radiant in the style of the year, the 2009 is beautifully resonant on the palate, with effortless breath and striking purity in its fruit. Mint, spice, almond and crushed flowers add nuance on the creamy, expressive finish. Disgorged December 2014.
L’Amateur l.v.11 2011
$62 per bottle
This wine is blended from as many as a dozen parcels of Léclapart’s 1er cru vines in Trépail. The base wine is 100% chardonnay fermented by natural yeast (as are they all) in enameled vats. It displays Léclapart’s meticulous dedication to biodynamic vineyard work and his broad house style but does not show the greater vinosity or rounded more oxidative style of his higher echelon wines.
L’Artiste l.v.09 2009
$100 per bottle
L’Artiste l.v.10 2010
$105 per bottle
L’Artiste is a single vintage chardonnay, entirely from 1er cru vineyards in Trépail. Léclapart uses a combination of enamel-lined vats and neutral old wooden barrels for primary fermentation. The barrel fermented wine adds roundness and depth and a clear demonstration of the house style. L’Artiste might be thought of as the ‘signature wine.’
L’Apôtre l.v.09 2009
$125 per bottle
L’Apôtre is Léclapart’s top wine and the wine that most fully demonstrates his potential and his achievement. It is entirely chardonnay from the single vineyard ‘La Pierre St Martin.’ It is fermented entirely in neutral old wood (he likes to buy used barrels from Domaine Leflaive) and goes through 100% malo-lactic conversion. After the second fermentation, the wine stays on its lees for 30 months. It is full bodied and round with great vinosity (tastes like wine with bubbles, rather than champagne) and is distinctly in the oxidative style of old school Krug, Bollinger or Selosse.
L’Alchimiste l.v.09 2009
$125 per bottle
Trépail is anomalous in being a chardonnay outpost in the pinot-dominated Montagne de Reims. Léclapart’s wines reflect this, being all-chardonnay, all the time. The small amount of pinot Léclapart does bring in either goes into a still red wine or, until 2009 a Rosé, and from 2010 onwards a blanc de noirs. The rosé was l’Alchimiste. The base wine as made as a true rosé (pressed off the skins) rather than a saignée (pink juice bled off a cuvee in order to concentrate what is left over) or a rosé d’assemblage (red wine added to white, not allowed for quality wine other than in champagne.)
L’Astre l.v.11 2011
$125 per bottle
In 2010 Léclapart was worried about the condition of the pinot fruit he harvested and decided he did not want to risk macerating the skins, even for the short period it takes to make a rosé. Instead, he followed the more usual champenois method and pressed the clear juice from the black grapes and made a blanc de noirs. He was so pleased with the results that he has continued with that approach, making the blanc de noirs rather than rosé ever since.
This offer was time-sensitive, with limited quantities. Prices and availability are liable to change.
|L’Amateur l.v.11 2011||$62|
|L’Artiste l.v.09 2009||$100|
|L’Artiste l.v.10 2010||$105|
|L’Apôtre l.v.09 2009||$125|
|L’Alchimiste l.v.09 2009||$125|
|L’Astre l.v.11 2011||$125|
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