Review- Leclerc Briant

Guillaume Selosse champagne

When you say “Leclerc Briant”, you say “Hervé Jestin”. The Bretagne-born chef de cave is known for his unconventional ways of champagne making and unique experiments, Abyss probably being the most sensational example. This champagne is transported to Bretagne, where it’s put to rest at the bottom of the ocean near the island Ouessant. And it’s not even a marketing trick. Jestin believes the waves of the ocean resonate with the champagne so that it takes on its most natural form. This way of thinking illustrates the philosophy that both Jestin and the Leclerc Briant champagne house swear by: let nature lead the way and see what happens. Those are words to live by!

Vision

The Leclerc Briant house is a true biodynamic champagne pioneer. Founded by Lucien Leclerc in 1872, the brand stood at the cradle of a more natural way of making champagne and it’s always stayed that way. When Lucien’s grandson married Jacqueline Briant, the business turned from small-scale champagne producer into a Maison de Negoce (trading house), which explains why they’re a relatively large brand for biodynamic standards. Biodynamic champagne producers are often small businesses, as the way of working is labour-intensive and doesn’t allow for them to grow large quantities of grapes. But as Leclerc Briant is both a producer and a trading house, they also buys grapes from other biodynamic and organic growers, which logically leads to larger quantities. It doesn’t make their products any less natural, though.

Biodynamic/organic label

The Leclerc Briant champagne house has always been all about natural experiments. It’s in their DNA, as even when the house was bought by American couple Mark Nunelly and Denise Dupré in 2012 (which saved it from going under), the way of working remained the same. The brand is constantly reinventing itself, resulting in champagnes that are both delicious and very interesting. It’s like they’re short stories caught in a bottle! What’s also interesting, is that all Leclerc Briant champagnes are certified as vegan, meaning there’s no use of egg whites or gelatine in the production process. They’re not 100% biodynamic, as not all partner growers are. Everything they do is natural, though, especially now that Hervé Jestin is the creative director in the Leclerc Briant cellars.

Champagnes

Réserve Brut

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
UnknownPinot Noir
Pinot Meunier
Chardonnay
True brunch
champagne
Brut7.5/10

This Leclerc Briant champagne is your go-to champagne when you organise a brunch. In fact, I’ve only had this champagne during day-time: we were served Réserve Brut at breakfast in the Leclerc Briant guest house Le 25 Bis, and I drank it in my hometown Amsterdam at a brunch. It’s light, accessible and the perfect introduction for people that are unfamiliar with natural champagne.

Brut Rosé

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
Unknown95 % 
Chardonnay
5% Pinot Noir
Your best
summer option
Extra
brut
7.4/10

Usually, rosé is made by soaking the skin of red grapes (rosé de saignée). In Champagne, however, rosé is made simply by adding white and red wine (rosé d’assemblage). This means producers add Chardonnay, making rosé champagne softer and more delicate than your every-day rosé wine. The same goes for Leclerc Briant’s Brut Rosé. Although it does remind you of summer, the champagne is subtle and almost seductive. It pairs really well with fruits and fish, or crab, which was served by Sacré Bistro during our Leclerc Briant masterclass.

Millésime Extra Brut (2013)

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
UnknownPinot Noir
Pinot Meunier
Chardonnay
Fizzy
favourite
Extra
brut
8.3/10

Wow! Tasting the Millésime 2013 for the first time is forever etched on my memories. It has that kick and depth that I like, which is very characteristic for natural champagne. This Leclerc Briant champagne is like a gift that keeps on giving, as it stays with you long after it’s gone. There’s hints of brioche, toast and citrus fruits, creating a lovely blend that goes perfectly with delicate foods such as an amuse bouche (or in our case: cheese from the Auvergne).

Cuvée Abyss (2014)

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
UnknownChardonnay
Pinot Noir
Pinot Meunier
Slept on the
bottom of
the ocean
Brut
nature
8.2/10

Although the Millésime 2013 is my (current) favourite Leclerc Briant champagne, it’s Abyss that has the most interesting story. Like I wrote in the introduction, Hervé Jestin takes the Abyss champagne to Bretagne, where they’re submerged in the ocean to get in sync with the natural rhythm of the waves. And it shows! When you drink Abyss, you feel something is different. It has a softer touch to it and there’s this gentle sparkle that actually reminds you of the mystical life at the bottom of the ocean.

Le clos des 3 clochers (2014)

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
Villers-Allerand100%
Chardonnay
Single vineyardBrut
nature
7.5/10

This single vineyard champagne comes from 30 ares in Villers-Allerand, a Premier Cru village between Reims and Épernay. Clos means closed, and in Champagne, the term is used to describe closed vineyards that, as a consequence, have their own micro-climate. Because of this micro-climate, this Leclerc Briant champagne has an exceptional palette of flavours including soft vanilla and oak, that reminds of Puligny-Montrachet.

La croisette (2015)

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
Épernay100%
Chardonnay
Single vineyardBrut
nature
8.5/10

Ah, this is a special one! Made from one single plot near Épernay, La Croisette by Leclerc Briant gives you endless complexity and elegance. In fact, the degree of complexity tests your patience as after you’ve poured it, the champagne needs some time to “open up”. But oh, when it does, you’ll be treated to freshness, butter, minerals and that oakiness that comes with champagnes that have been aged in, well, oak barrels. When you wish to pair it, look for dishes with fish, poultry or goat cheese.