Alexandre Filaine

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Fabrice Gass, the OG of unheralded growerproducers in Champagne, worked for a quarter century at Bollinger as cellarmaster, assisting the Chef du Cave in winemaking and the elevage of the Grand Marque’s cuvées.

Fabrice secured a small plot in the village of Damery, along the Marne, planted mostly to his favorite grape, Meunier, which thrived along the river. Throughout his time at Bollinger, as the Chef du Cave favored barrels of less than fifteen years’ age, Fabrice would keep the elder statesmen and use them for his own home winemaking. He believes that older barrels make better wine, as they have been perfectly seasoned and will not impart any oaky flavors.

Walking through Fabrice’s vineyards, one can feel the life - green everywhere, from grass to asparagus and other nitrogen-rich vegetation sprouting around the vines, which show more brilliant life than any of his neighbors’ vines ever will show throughout the growing season. Due in no small part to this lively ecosystem in his vineyards, Fabrice’s wines often have some of, if not the very highest natural acidity, though they never appear even close to shrill. His Meunier, balanced with some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, transmits the most effusively floral and fresh examples of the grape, immediately accessible in their youth but growing even more complex with age. Fabrice has experimented in later years with cuvées spending longer on their lees. The style is consistent, however, demanding freshness. None of his wines go through Malo-lactic conversion, and very little dosage. All wines are aged under cork rather than cap, allowing for earlier enjoyment upon disgorgement, which is done entirely by hand. For a real treat, visit his home and taste his über-ripe Côteaux Champenois!

Cuvèe Speciale is the flagship and the mold for the house, consisting of about fifty percent to two-thirds Meunier on average, the rest split between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wine sees about 14-16 months on the lees usually, and is incredibly fresh. Generally produced from two contiguous vintages, though you’ll see no marking of the vintages anywhere on the label. Confidence has been recently renamed DMY, an abbreviation of his village, but the idea remains the same: the same blend as a cuvée of Speciale, just aged on the lees for 2-3 years. This softens the initial burst of acidity and rounds out the palate, favored by traditionalists, but quite tasty to just about anyone. Sensuum Vertigo This is the Tête de Cuvée of the house, often 100% Pinot Noir from a single vintage - jaw dropping in its intensity.

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