Vincent Laval is the current generation of the Laval family, barons of Cumières since before the records of the town even existed. Because the family is so beloved throughout the village, Vincent has been able to deftly trade his vineyards to acquire larger, contiguous vineyard parcels so that he can avoid chemical damage to his vines from unwitting neighbors, as the family has somehow avoided the use of herbicides or pesticides for hundreds of years.
Cumières acts as a natural amphitheater, its hills not only allowing the heat to settle and maintain, but also protect the village from rough weather - Cumières is usually the very first of the Champagne villages to be harvested, thanks to that warmth. Laval will often make single-varietal wines for his higher-echelon cuvées, but his blending skills are beyond many. In fact, he’s so nonchalant, not dogmatic about anything that he will allow multiple vintages of wine to stay in barrel to allow cooler, more acidic vintages to develop enough that a richer, broader wine to be harvested and blended together to create a more balanced wine. Everything in the winery is old-school - the smallest press in champagne, the gravity-flow because “we never had a hose in here”, and the blending to taste. Laval’s oldest vines in recent years were as old as 1929 (recently ripped out) and generally average about forty years’ age, producing incredible depth and concentration. Laval for long only produced 10,000 bottles a year as it was the maximum he could hold in his cellar; he recently bought his neighbor’s house and tunneled into his basement to gain some more space. Wines are often aged until Laval deems them ready (again, not dogmatic), and his portfolio is not always consistent, with many one-offs through the years.
Les Garennes is from the youngest vines, a blend of all three varietals, and the only wine in the portfolio to receive dosage - made in both Brut and Demi-Sec. The blend of the Cumieres 1er Cru will change every bottling - usually three contiguous vintages, and so expressive of the Meunier element, with high-toned floral tones complementing ripe orchard fruits. Magnums and Jeroboamss will typically be single-vintage. Les Chenes consists of entirely old-vine Chardonnay, and the perfect expression of the warmth of Cumières, smelling of springy sweet greens and wildflowers. “The high goat” - Les Hautes Chevres - was traditionally the oldest vines of the family, these days more Pinot Noir-dominant, but was often made with a lot of Meunier as well (those were the 1929 vines). This rewards time, but is a holy grail for many. Laval produces about 8-12 magnums of this a year. Les Longues Violes is the newest cuvée, but one Vincent has planned for a while - a single bottling of the oldest vines of the estate, this is a breathtaking wine that should be served as a meal in itself. Pinot Noir and Meunier. Vincent will make a rosé from time to time, depending on the harvest. Made in rare instances, though it’s one of the most exciting rosé wines that exists. This is often an output for ripe vintages, and Laval will let the juice macerate for a long time before pulling it off the skins. A sensory experience, and deserving of decanting and service like a fine red burgundy. If you ever set eyes on a Coteaux Champenois, snap it up - this hasn't been made since 2009.