Tasting at Champagne Pascal Doquet

Jay with Pascal Doquet and his wife Laure

I’ve just spent a wonderful morning with the super talented Pascal Doquet, his wife Laure, and their son Noe. Pascal is quite the character.  With a wild head of hair, a passion for music (he’s a guitar player in a rock and roll band), and is quite philosophical. He is incredibly bright and loves to share his deep knowledge of Champagne and organic practices. We toured through some of the vines they have located in Le Mont Aime and Mesnil-Sur-Oger, to see if the recent frost had done damage to the tiny buds just forming on the lower part of the vines. Frost damage was not visible, but some caterpillars had been at a few of the buds. 

One thing that is clearly visible is Pascal’s belief in organic farming. His vineyard is bursting with life, grass, flowers, and little rabbit holes here and there while some of the neighboring vineyards are nothing but rows of dirt and vines.  Which is what you will see in most of the huge Champagne region. Pascal, who is head of the Organic association in the region, told me he spends 25% of his time leading efforts to educate and convert more growers to organic methods. It’s working. 5 years ago there were just over 2% of vines being classified as organic while now there are over 8%. Still small but a big jump in the right direction.

Back at the Domaine, we sat down for a quick tasting before lunch at La Gare in Vertus (highly recommend). We started with a couple of Vin Clair 2021 from Mont Aime and Le Mesnil. Even now, these still wines made from Chardonnay were quite special showing a lot of minerality and saline notes, unique because of the silex (flint) throughout the vineyard.  We moved on to tasting the 2015 Arpege Brut and Arpege Brut Nature which is a zero dosage bottling. Arpege, as in single notes played on a guitar rather than a chord, is a blend of three vineyards. I love the minerality and finesse of these wines. The Arpege Brut has just slightly rounded edges vs the Brut Nature.

We then moved on to the 2009 Mont Aime, delicate, pure and balanced. The 2009 Vertus, with more intensity and structure, and finally the 2009 Mesnil which was also quite delicate and very focused wine. You can see the aging potential in all of them – the challenge will be not to drink them too young! 

The final wine of the tasting is a special cuvee that Pascal has been holding back to release later this year. It is a 2004 Mesnil which didn’t go through malolactic fermentation, the same method as Salon, so as he says with a cheeky grin, it’s his “baby Salon”. Haha, we’ll have some please! We will find out about our allocation later this year but can’t wait to share it with you. 

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