Valérie Frison (pictured) took over her family's vines in the village of Ville-sur-Arce in 1997, initially selling the grapes to the local cooperative. Together with her husband, Thierry de Marne, she began converting her vineyards to organic viticulture in 2003, and in 2007, the first vintage eligible for organic certification, they began to make small quantities of their own champagne. They released their first wines in 2010, but in typically bureaucratic French fashion, the CIVC didn't allow them to market the wines under Thierry's name, de Marne: they felt it implied that he came from the département of the Marne, when in fact he was from the Aube. To satisfy the authorities, de Marne and Frison combined their two names, and a new champagne estate was born. The two made wine together for six years, but de Marne left in February of 2013, and today, Frison continues to run the estate on her own.
While Frison owns a total of six hectares of vines in Ville-sur-Arce, two and a half hectares are still sold to the co-operative each year. Another two and a half hectares have been under long-term contract to Duval-Leroy, although this ended in 2012, meaning that production will increase from the 2013 harvest onward.
Most of Frison's vines are pinot noir, with just 45 ares planted with chardonnay. As is typical for this area, Kimmeridgian soils dominate, although Frison draws a distinction between parcels that contain white clay and yellow clay (argile blanche and argile jaune). Two chardonnay parcels lie on Portlandian soil, and one of these—Les Cotannes—is bottled separately. All parcels are allowed to grow a natural cover crop, which is plowed in March to prevent the vines from having too much competition for nutrients, and intriguingly, a different set of plants naturally grows in each parcel, reflecting subtle differences in terroir.
Peter Liem, www.champagneguide.net