Champagne Agrapart & Fils
In 1894 at the beginning of France’s lively Belle Époque, Arthur Agrapart started the family domaine that would become Champagne Agrapart & Fils. The estate has weathered many storms, including World War I, an economic depression, and the German Occupation during World War II, which devastated stock by millions of cases throughout the region. In the 1950s, Arthur’s grandson Pierre set out to rebuild the family business by making wines of quality rather than following the commercial trends of the day. Today, Pierre’s sons Pascal and Fabrice have followed suit, still farming their own vineyards along the prestigious Côte de Blancs, as well as blending and bottling their own wines. The Agrapart family makes truly hand-made wines, seeking to bring out the individuality of each terroir.
The winery is based in the grand cru village of Avize, famous for its cuvees of 100% Chardonnay. Pascal and Fabrice farm 10 hectares from some 60 different vineyard plots in the Côte de Blancs, including Oger, Cramant, Oiry and Avize. They prefer not to label their viticultural methods; they farm using only homeopathic vine treatments, composts, manures, and regular plowing. The Agraparts were one of the first families to bring the draft horse back to the vineyards, and have since named a cuvee in honor of their four-hooved friend, Venus. In plowing the old-school way, they expose the clay and limestone soils to immune-boosting properties of the wind and sun. While they once were the object of ridicule, they now lead a return to authentic, ancestral practices. Their quality control extends to manual harvests, a selective triage of the grapes, and the use of native yeasts during fermentation. Malolactic fermentations are employed to round out the intensity of these mineral-driven Champagnes. The wines age on their lees for an extended period of time, and then are racked to both stainless steel and neutral oak barrels—the latter being a rarity in Champagne. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Up until the time when he passed away in 1996 at the age of 96, Pierre and Fabrice’s grandfather, Auguste Agrapart, took great pride in hand-riddling each bottle of Agrapart Champagne. When asked for the secret to his long life was, his reply was “one bottle of Champagne a day.”
For more information, see www.champagne-agrapart.com
From Wine Advocate issue # 180
Brothers Fabrice and Pascal Agrapart farm roughly ten hectares of old-vine plots in their home town of Avize, as well as in the neighboring villages in the Cote des Blancs. The domaine favors malolactic fermentation, something that clearly benefits these intensely mineral Champagnes. The wines are bottled with no filtration and dosage for the top bottlings is very much on the low side. These pure wines from Agrapart were among the most alive and energetic Champagnes I encountered, and should be a part of any well-stocked cellar. Agrapart is in the process of adding disgorgement dates on its back labels. All of these wines, with the exception of the NV, are clearly marked.