Jérôme Dehours is a great ambassador for the Pinot Meunier grape variety, as he is utterly convinced of its quality and charm. His family has a long heritage of making wine in Champagne: Jérôme’s grandfather, Ludovic, was one of the first independent growers in Champagne, a revolution in the 1930s. His father, Robert, was then one of the forerunners in the 1970s with the idea of maintaining reserves of quality wines for use in future blending. Since taking control of the family domaine in 1996, Jérôme has developed a viticulture regime rejecting pesticides and herbicides. Jérôme’s aim is to limit yields and produce intense, ripe fruit from vines that live longer and produce more complex fruit flavours as a result. His 14 hectares of family-owned vineyards are located in the heart of the tiny village Cerseuil, nestled in the Vallée de la Marne. Like much of the Champagne area, the estate comprises a veritable patchwork of vineyard plots, 42 in all, spread across the villages of Mareuil-le-Port, Oeuilly and Troissy. The diversity of sun exposure, subsoil, varieties and age of vines give, as a result, many varied nuances to his base wines. Jérôme affirms that this is the best area for Pinot Meunier, as he continues his endeavours to exploit its true potential. This sizable domaine is registered as an NM (négociant-manipulant), but in fact buys in no grapes. Around half of the crop is sold off to the négoce trade each year as pressed juice. The vineyards are tended as organically as possible, including work to aerate the soil and limit the superficial root system, in order to drive the roots of the vines deeper. The rows are grassed over in order to provide competition to the vines roots.
Vinification takes place in a mixture of stainless steel and barrels, malolactic fermentation is generally blocked and the vins clairs have extended time on the fine lees before bottling. Low dosage in Jérôme’s finished wines is ‘writ in stone’ here. Vinifying in small parcels, Jérôme produces some excellent single vineyard cuvées and also a hugely successful Grande Réserve Brut blend (3 years on lees and 7g/L dosage). Jérôme’s Grande Réserve Extra Brut ’Terre de Meunier’ shows all the characteristics of Pinot Meunier, with fine minerality infused with subtle iodine notes (4 years on lees and 0g/L dosage). The single vineyard cuvées are more intense, driven and linear than the blends, whilst capturing the essence of their very specific origins. His mission is a tireless pursuit of excellence and to bring to light Cersueil’s stunning potential. Distinction and distinctiveness are key watchwords here. Exciting, stylish and innovative, Jérôme is certainly a Champenois to watch.
This estate follows environmentally conscientious philosophies, with discipline and rigour aimed at a low-interventionist approach.