Review- Nowack

A new rockstar has entered the champagne stage and his name is Flavien Nowack. Everywhere I went, people mentioned his name: Aline of Au Bon Manger, David Léclapart, his partner in crime Ale Muchada, Niek the sommelier of the Klepel, and the owner of wineshop Les Caves du Forum. The latter even sells a Nowack champagne that was exclusively created for them. With this many testimonials, some tasting had to be done. I did, and I immediately understood the fuss. So below I give you: my review of Nowack champagne.

Czech roots in French soil

The name Nowack doesn’t sound very French, because it isn’t. The Nowack family once came over from the Czech Republic, but that was ages ago. Already in 1795, they cultivated grapes in Vandières in Champagne, albeit on a small scale. As can be read on their website, the family was actually a producer of roof tiles until 1915. In her book, Terroir Champagne, Caroline Henry tells that when the First World War started, Ferdinand Nowack decided to produce his own champagne to provide for his family while he and his son were at the front. A good decision, as it turned out.

After the war, Ferdinand Nowack would soon grow into a leading champagne maker in the region. He even won prizes at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris in both 1935 and 1936. In the sixties, his son Bernard continued the success, expanding the business to live up to the growing international demand for champagne. Today, Frédéric and Flavien run the Nowack business, both producing their own champagnes.

The switch to natural champagne

The story of Nowack champagne may go way back; they haven’t always been the natural champagne makers they are today. Up until recently, Nowack was a rather conventional winemaking family, working according to classical methods, also using pesticides in the vineyards. It was Flavien Nowack who changed course and started experimenting with a more natural production method. He studied viticulture and winemaking in Avize, where he ran into Guillaume Selosse. Inspired by the Selosse way of champagne making, Flavien decided to focus more on terroir and diversity in the vineyard.

He started planting wheat in between the vines: did not work.

Then, he started ploughing the soil and planting clover and grass: that did work.

In 2012, Flavien took his natural methods to La Fontinette, one of the oldest Nowack vineyards. When tasting the first results, all members of the family could tell the difference. There was a purity and a depth they hadn’t detected before, and it would mark the start of an organic movement within the Nowack business. Today, Flavien produces organic champagne on 2.6 hectares while he and his father gradually convert the other hectares too, by slowly reducing the doses of chemicals. Flavien himself only uses copper, sulphur, fermented plants and herbal teas to treat the vines. His grapes are fully ripened before they’re harvested, and their must is fermented by adding indigenous yeasts.

Pinot Meunier in Vallée de la Marne

Nowack champagne comes from Vandières, which is in the Vallée de la Marne in western Champagne. Here, Pinot Meunier is king, being responsible for 59% of all champagne produced. When you look into the characteristics of Vallée de la Marne, you’ll soon notice there’s a bit of everything: there’s clay, there’s sandstone, there’s fossiliferous marl. Hence, plenty to work with. Despite the dominance of Pinot Meunier, Nowack champagne brings forth Chardonnay and Pinot Noir too, creating an interesting oeuvre with a leading role for terroir.


Les Bauchets

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
Pinot Noir
Fizzy favouriteExtra brut9.5/10

A champagne with a kick that’s easy to love! Les Bauchets is a 100% pinot noir champagne with hints of currants without being too sour. Its sent is a treat on its own: there’s citrus fruits, apples and honey and a softness that calms your nerves. I tasted peach, minerals and a hint of caramel, while the aforementioned currants in the background added depth. Les Bauchets is the perfect choice if you want to introduce people to the world of natural champagne: it’s an easy lover, yet is has a lot to offer.

La Tuilerie

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
Tastes as if made
with Pinot Meunier
Extra brut9.3/10

When I first tasted La Tuilerie, I thought it was made with 100% Pinot Meunier. I drowned in an ocean of peach, nectarines and fruity fizziness. How in the world could this be a Chardonnay? It was, though, and that’s the power of terroir: it transcends the power of grapes and tells the story of the soil. Absolutely loved it!

Domaine Nowack

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
VandièresPinot Noir
Exclusively available at
Les Caves du Forum
Extra brut8/10

This champagne can only be bought at Les Cave du Forum in Reims (across the street from Au Bon Manger) and can easily be recognised by the rockstar label. Where La Tuilerie was all about stone fruits to me, Domaine Nowack is all about grapefruits as it has a nice acidity that doesn’t sabotage smoothness.

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