Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Morning at J.-L. Vergnon

I’m still in a state of shock over the horrific injury suffered by Arsenal’s Eduardo this weekend. It’s a huge blow to my team, but honestly it doesn’t matter what side you support—a potentially career-threatening injury like that is devastating for the game of football as a whole. Beyond any illusions of him recovering anytime soon, I just hope that he can even play football again.

On a more positive note, I tasted a terrific non-dosé champagne this morning in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, among a number of other wines tasted with Christophe Constant of Champagne J.-L. Vergnon. At first glance a description of the Cuvée Confidence Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs 2002 makes it seem like a prop from a dental horror movie: besides not having any dosage, it comes entirely from Le Mesnil and didn’t go through any malolactic fermentation at all. “Some people say that in Le Mesnil, with no malo, if you don’t dose these young wines with 10 or 11 grams of sugar they’re undrinkable,” says Constant. “But it’s not true—you just have to harvest ripe grapes.” This wine was harvested at 11.5 degrees of potential alcohol, and it’s impeccably balanced, feeling long, expressive and complete. There’s really nothing severe about it at all.

So the bad news is, you can’t buy it. Vergnon used to be imported to the U.S. by Kip & Nancy Wine Marketing in Lagunitas, CA, but Constant isn’t working with them anymore. While you might find this wine at a few select restaurants here in France, there were only 1200 bottles made, so it’s not plentiful. The good news is that Constant is doing exciting things with this small, five-hectare estate. He’s only been making wine here since 2002, so it’ll take some time to get the estate to where he wants it to be, but his practices of ripe harvesting, little to no chaptalisation, no malolactic and long aging on the fine lees before bottling all add up to wine worth searching for. Hopefully he’ll find a new U.S. importer soon.


Anonymous said...

I am importing the wines of J.L. Vergnon. I was dining at Les Crayères and I had a bottle of J.L. Vergnon Confidence Brut Nature 2002 – it was one of the most outstanding wines I have ever had in my life. After visiting the property and spending the day with Christophe CONSTANT I was converted. Christophe makes the wine first and then he makes Champagne – a concept that seems obvious but that is often ignored by most Champagne houses. This is extraordinary product. While most will enjoy the pure elegance that is the Grand Cru Brut the wine that ranks as one of the best I have EVER had is the non-dosage Confidence.

Doug Margerum

P.O. Box 824, Los Olivos, California, USA 93441
Telephone 805.686.8500
Fax: 805.686.8533

The wines are available online at

Peter Liem said...

Hello Doug,

Thanks for writing. Christophe did tell me on a subsequent visit that you were importing his wines. He's doing some exciting things, and I'm looking forward to tasting many more of his wines in the future.

dogsbrekky said...

Ironic that I am reading this and have found some JL Vergnon Blanc de Blancs (Grand Cru) at my outstanding wine store in the Hamptons (Hamptons Wines in Westhamptn Beach), a great bargain at $44 a bottle..... they lead me towards this marvellous drop instead of my normal NV Bolli - anyway, ironic I say because I had my honeymoon (failed marriage) at Boyer Les Crayer in Reims where I had many a great Champagne..

This Vergnon is sublime stuff..... the bottle says it is imported by Weygandt Metzler in Pennsylvania

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