Aurelien Suenen swiftly went from unknown vineyard heir to a darling of the single-vineyard, single-vintage Champenois movement. His dedication to incredible vineyard health and long, slow fermentations has created wines of impeccable class and complexity; they seem to get better each vintage!
A favorite of ours, Aurelien Suenen was an aspiring, semi-pro basketball player playing in Philadelphia when his father grew ill, upon which time Aurelien departed for home in the Côte des Blancs, specifically the small village of Cramant. His family owned about 3 hectares of Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs and another hectare of black grapes in the Montagne de Reims, and though Aurelien had grown up lending a hand in the harvest, he lacked the true knowledge of a seasoned vigneron. Luckily, his neighbors took the 20-something Aurelien under their generous wing - and what better neighbors to have than Pascal Agrapart and Anselme Selosse?
Aurelien’s family’s holdings included some of the very best parcels in Cramant, including Les Robarts, a vineyard divided between Cramant and neighboring Grand Cru Avize, the Avize portion belonging mostly to Agrapart, who helped Aurelien understand the intricacies of the cru. Selosse may have had even a greater impact on Suenen, encouraging him to not sell off the portion of land he held in Oiry, the smallest Grand Cru of the Côte des Blancs, a flat piece of land butted up against the highway. With a guided hand in both working with the soil and careful vine management, Suenen soon realized the potential of the land as he brought the land out of its previous chemical dependencies and began on the road toward better (biodynamic, though not dogmatically) viticulture, a la Selosse and Agrapart. After selling his parcel in the Montagne, Aurelien Suenen’s first solo effort was the 2010 vintage, from which he released the last of his extended lees-aged wine.
Today he counts a range of four single-vineyard bottlings and the regional wines, Oiry and C&C (Chouilly & Cramant). All of the wines are single-vintage, that year indicated on the label even though the wines are not aged long enough to technically be a "vintage" champagne. A star in the making, and highly collectible!