Today’s Story: Champagne Lilbert-Fils
Champagne Lilbert-Fils is a small, family-owned and operated grower Champagne located in the village of Cramant in the Côte des Blancs. Though written records show the Lilbert family cultivating vines there back to 1746, it is suspected they have deeper roots to perhaps the early 1700s. Bertrand Lilbert runs the estate today, after he joined his father Georges during the 1990s and took the helm in 2005. The family only owns 3.5 hectares of all Grand Cru vineyards with roughly 60% in Cramant, 30% in Chouilly, and 10% in Oiry. These holdings are planted to 100% Chardonnay with an average vine age of 45 years for the exclusive production of Blanc de Blancs. Bertrand practices sustainable viticulture, makes his wines in stainless steel vats, and they do experience malolactic fermentation. Bertrand still riddles all of his bottles by hand, and they are disgorged without freezing the plug of lees in the neck of the bottle. Dosage remains pretty low in sugar because Bertrand prefers to preserve acidity over ripeness, and the resulting wines are filled with intense mineral and chalk characteristics alongside crisp and vibrant citrus and orchard fruit. Total production is typically a measly 2,300 cases per vintage, making these wines very difficult to find.
Today’s Wine: NV Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay; 12% ABV
The NV Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs is transparent pale gold to a medium yellow in color, with incredibly delicate effervescence. On the nose, this gorgeous and utterly complex Champagne emits aromas of green apple, golden pear, a hint of lemon, white florals, white truffle, delicate green herbs, brioche, lees, and crushed stone minerality. The knock-your-socks-off palate then picks up the reigns with yellow apple skins, crisp pear, white peach, lemon citrus, honeysuckle, toast, cheese rind, toasted almond, chalk, and saline mineral. This is light- to medium-bodied and very dry (dosage 5g/L) with racy high acidity and a long finish that is both tantalizing and mouthwatering. My bottle was disgorged in Autumn 2017 and is a blend of 50% 2014 vintage, 35% 2013 vintage, and 15% Reserve Wines.
Price: $60. This is an incredible value Champagne and one that I buy whenever I find it (which isn’t easy because it is super small production with an almost cultish following). I’ve had these wines on 4 or 5 occasions and every time they punch up with the “big dogs.” Buy some if you can.