Champagne Bereche et Fils
Bérêche et Fils was founded in 1847. Yet, it has been the innovative work of brothers Raphaël and Vincent Bérêche that has made this one of the most talked about Champagne producers among France’s sommeliers, cavistes, and connoisseurs. With lavish praise from Peter Liem and Antonio Galloni, the same is beginning to happen the United States.
Building on a strong foundation of traditional Champagne making learned from their father Jean-Pierre, Raphaël and Vincent are two of the region’s most insatiably curious vignerons. To that end, their portfolio not only includes an extraordinarily vibrant NV Brut Réserve, but several micro-cuvées brilliantly conceived to express different aspects of terroir, vintage, and grape variety.
Key to the fantastic complexity of the Bérêche Champagnes are the number of different terroirs that make up the estate’s holdings. Their holdings can be found in Ludes, on the chalky Montagne de Reims; in Ormes in the Petite Montagne de Reims; and Mareuil le Port in the western Vallée de la Marne. These are augmented by small plots in Trépail on the eastern slope of the Montagne de Reims and, from 2012, the estate’s first grand cru site, a tiny parcel in Mailly. Raphaël and Vincent experiment tirelessly with the character of these very different terroirs, creating a range of cuvées prized for their originality. All the the wines are single vintage, except the NV Brut Réserve. They do not list the vintages on the label because they prefer not to deal with the CIVC. The CIVC is the committee who declares if this or that vintage deserves a “vintage” status.
To ensure that the soil and, consequently the fruit, is as healthy as possible, Bérêche stopped all use of chemical herbicides in 2003, returning to the manual working of their vineyards as in the past, and are moving toward biodynamic farming of all their parcels. Ten full-time employees tend the vines, an extraordinary number given that the estate’s holdings are only nine hectares. This ensures that the labor-intensive farming of each site is done perfectly.
In the cellar, they have focused on barrel fermentation for most of the cuvées. The wines age on their lees to increase richness and depth. Malolactic fermentation is avoided to balance the richness and depth of each wine with bright acidity. Recently, the Bérêche brothers have decided to use corks instead of crown caps for the second fermentation. In doing so, the young wine is exposed to low amounts of oxygen, which they think can help preserve its character and complexity as it ages. Jean-Pierre was a firm believer in cork, but it requires a lot of extra work—now that Raphaël and Vincent are working at the estate, it’s easier to accomplish. Finally, each bottle is disgorged by hand and minimally dosed to preserve the purity of its expression.
Wine Advocate 5/2020
"I've been following the wines of brothers Vincent and Raphaël Bérêche since my student days, and it's been thrilling to watch them go from strength to strength. Their recent releases are some of their best to date: whether it's their ever-more precise and concentrated lieu-dit bottlings, their exquisitely ethereal Campania Remensis Rosé, or the fresher, tightly wound Reflet d'Antan. In short, everything here comes warmly recommended. As readers will know, the Bérêche brothers cultivate their soils and don't use herbicides or pesticides. Most of the vins clairs are vinified in barrel, and tirage is under cork rather than crown cap. The particularities of their various cuvées are chronicled in the accompanying notes."
"Few growers can match Raphaël Bérêche’s enthusiasm. That energy comes through in wines that faithfully capture the purest essence of vintage, variety and site. Bérêche fans can look forward to several new Champagnes in the coming years, including the stellar Mailly-Champagne, which makes its debut with the 2013 vintage. As good as the higher end wines are in this range, I often find myself reaching for the NV Brut Réserve, which is reliably one of the very finest Champagnes in its peer group."
"As always, the Bérêche Champagnes are built on vinous texture, an expression of the land, and total sensuality. Even in ripe, sunny vintages like 2012, the wines retain freshness and exceptional overall balance. These are some of my [Antonio Galloni] favorite Champagnes to buy and drink."