Review- Legrand-Latour

Legrand-Latour champagne

Did you know that Champagne terroir is bursting with fossil seashells? In the so-called eocene period, most of the region was part of a tropical (!) ocean that covered the north-east of France. Although this was 56 to 33.9 million years ago, the marine history of Champagne still influences the soil, and therefore the bubbles we drink. There are many champagne producers that mention the influence of the immortalised marine life beneath their vineyards, but the Legrand-Latour family took it to the next level. Everything they do revolves around fossil shells: their museum, their vision on champagne making and of course: the incredible Legrand-Latour champagne.

A quick geography lesson

Normally, I don’t go around teaching people geography. But to understand Legrand-Latour champagne, you have to understand their exact location in the Champagne region. So bear with me as I tell you a little bit about it.

In the eastern part of of Champagne, you’ll find the Vallée de la Marne. This sub-region is divided by river the Marne, resulting in a right bank (the north side) and a left bank (the south side). The right bank can be summarised with the words sand, fierce Pinot Meunier and most of all: marl. Marl is rock or soil, consisting of clay and lime and it originates in shallow seawater, mainly in warm tropical climates. This makes sense, as a large part of the Champagne region was once covered by a tropical ocean filled with mysterious sea creatures that have now turned into sea fossils. Anyway, right there, on the north side of the river the Marne with all the marl, you’ll find the small town of Fleury-la-Rivière, and the domaine of Legrand-Latour.

The story of Legrand-Latour champagne

Ok, you’ve made it through the geography lesson. Now let’s move on the story of the domaine. Patrice Legrand, husband to Anne Latour and father of rising star Thibault, is a third generation champagne grower and used to be part of a cooperation. This means that several growers team up and make champagne together by mixing all of their grapes.

Up until 2017, it wasn’t the champagne that threw high eyes; it was Patrice’s passion for geology. He loved collecting fossil shells and spent a lot of time digging in and around his vineyards. He knew a lot about growing grapes and vineyards, but he also wanted to really understand the legacy beneath the surface. The hobby turned into a (healthy) obsession and as years went by, Patrice Legrand turned himself into a semi-professional palaeontologist. The more fossils he found, the more he discovered about the history of the domaine and the ocean that once covered his land. Wanting to share his enthusiasm with the world, he turned all the dug tunnels into a museum called La Cave aux Coquillages. Here, you can now walk around as if you’re walking at the bottom of the ocean.

La Cave aux Coquillages

I’ve visited the museum in December 2021 and I highly recommend it. I was blown away by the size of some sea fossils and the surface of the museum itself: the tunnels just kept on going! Also, you’re not just looking at a bunch of fossils; you’re looking at a life’s work that’s the inspiration behind the Legrand-Latour champagne.

Where many champagne producers choose to create champagne based on grape variety, Thibault Legrand chose time.

Focus on time

Thibault Legrand is the latest generation of the champagne-making family and when he joined the business, he decided to do things differently. Inspired by the biodynamic vision of his good friend Flavien Nowack, he made the shift to more natural, terroir-focused champagne. He left the cooperation in 2017 and drastically lowered the amounts of chemicals and sulphurs. Along with Flavien, Thibault then started experimenting with a terroir-focused coteaux champenois, which turned out very promising. Later, he combined his father’s passion for geology with his own ideas on biodynamic viniculture and started making champagne based on the periods on the geologic time scale, starting with Eocène and Yprésien. So, where many champagne producers choose to create champagne based on grape variety, Thibault Legrand chose time. And oh, how it worked out.


Eocène (Géologie du coteau)

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
VerneuilPinot Meunier 75%
Chardonnay 25%
2824 bottles
Brut nature8.5/10

Eocène is built on the foundations of the Ypresian, Lutetian and Bartonian stage. The champagne comes from vines at the bottom of a hill, planted in a soil that’s composed of clayey-silty sand and green clay. I found this champagne quite complex, but it got friendlier along the way. I first tasted Eocène at Au Bon Manger, which was a great start as the explanation of Aline really turned the champagne into a story.


LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
VerneuilPinot Meunier 70%
Pinot Noir 30%
Brut nature9/10

Yprésien is my personal favourite. I first tasted it at the Legrand-Latour domaine in Fleury-la-Rivière, right after Thibault Legrand had given us a tour at La Cave aux Coquillages. Yprésien is also quite complex, but it has a softer touch to it, making it a friendly yet deeply interesting champagne.

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