AR Lenoble

Represented by Antoine Malassagne & Christian Holthausen

This small, family-owned champagne house was founded in 1920 by Armand-Raphaël Graser. Originally from Alsace, Graser wasn't so enamored of the trend for Germanic-sounding names in the Champagne region. "He didn't think that the name Graser was very elegant for a champagne house," says his great-grandson Antoine Malassagne, who together with his sister Anne is responsible for the house today. "So he decided to invent a name. He thought that champagne was a very noble wine, so he came up with the name Lenoble, which sounds nice, and very French."

Today the house owns 18 hectares of vines: 5.5 hectares, mostly planted with pinot noir, lie in Bisseuil; a hectare and a half of meunier is owned in Damery; and the rest is all chardonnay in the grand cru of Chouilly. Vineyard work emphasizes natural treatments, with some parcels cultivated organically. "We seek to adapt to our environment, not dominate it," says Anne Malassagne. Additional grapes, largely meunier, are purchased for the non-vintage brut and brut nature. All of the grapes are pressed in one of the house's three traditional Coquard vertical presses, and only the cuvée, or first pressing, is used.

The Malassagnes work a little with oak barrels in the cellar, and today, all of their cuvées have a small proportion of barrel-fermented wines in their blends. An additional advantage of barrels is that they easily allow different parcels to be vinified separately, preserving the multiple identities present in the vineyards. Barrels are 225-liter Alliers oak, always purchased new from François Frères, but they are seasoned with wine for three years before being used for vinification. In addition, all of the reserve wines are stored in barrel. "Reserve wines are indispensable for creating the character of our wines," says Antoine Malassagne. "They give a larger palette to work from, creating more complexity."

Information courtesy of Peter Liem's ChampagneGuide.net ©