We tasted: Larmandier-Bernier “Les Chemins d’Avize” 2011 & 2012

millésime 2011 tasted in springtime 2020, Madrid
millésime 2012 tasted this winter, 2021, Maspalomas

The champagne journey for this small grower, Larmandier-Bernier, began in 1971 after the marriage between Philippe Larmandier and Elisabeth Bernier. The house, located in Vertus, is today managed by Pierre and Sophie Larmandier (since 1988), along with their son Arthur (joined in 2017). It covers more than eighteen hectares (45 acres) in some of the finest villages on the Côte des Blancs: Cramant, Chouilly, Oger and Avize (all Grand Crus), as well as in the premier cru village of Vertus. Their wine philosophy turns around the privileged terroir they work with: creating authentic cuvées in resonance with the natural environment. Consequently, since 1992 they decided to stop using herbicides and 7 years later, biodynamic viticulture is used across the entire estate. The crus are vinified separately and indigenous yeasts are used for the alcoholic fermentations, producing the most natural and terroir-specific wine possible. Together with a minimal dosage (never more than 4g/L), this process results in unique cuvées, a delight for all champagne lovers.

This cuvée, “Les Chemins d’Avize” (“The Paths of Avize”) impressed us significantly with its purity combined with an underlying energy derived from the chalky mineral soil of Avize. It’s in 2009 when Pierre and Sophie decided to create a special, unique cuvée, using only grapes from the southeast-facing lieux-dits Chemin de Plivot and Chemin de Flavigny (previously used for Longitude cuvée). The wines are aged for several years prior to hand-riddling and disgorgement, and then are held for a minimum of six months before being released to the market. This cuvée is spontaneously fermented (alcoholic and malolactic) for 11-12 months, with a minimum intervention, in the Stockinger casks and vats, and receives only 2 grams of dosage. The bottles are taken down to the cool cellars and stacked on lattes where the second fermentation takes place and the maturation continues slowly for at least 5 more years. 

Let’s focus now on the tasting notes of this superb champagne from 2011. On the nose: red apples, peaches, croissants and hints of gingerbread. On the palate we found a great complex of flavours dominated by its amazing fresh minerality and vibrant acidity, followed by hints of peach, lime zest, grapefuit, yellow apple, cocoa milk, vanilla, brioche and a slight smokiness. The mousse is delicate with small and abundant bubbles. The aftertaste is long and pleasant and gained in complexity during the tasting. This is a champagne one cannot forget soon. More recently, we also tasted the millésime 2012 and there was also no disappointment (in case you cannot find this 2011 edition), all the contrary. The flavours are the same, but the 2012 vintage seems even more powerful and complex. Its minerality is beautifully integrated with presence of honey and the vanilla hints are more persistent. The aftertaste is superb, long and fresh. We think that the 2012 vintage has even longer aging potential (contrary to 2011, when the weather conditions were bad, 2012 was a great year in Champagne, resulting in a vintage to keep) and it has all qualities needed to become a sumptuous champagne.

CLB score*
millésime 2011

93

millésime 2012

95

*take a look at our

CLB scoring

Type of champagneExtra Brut
Vintage2011 / 2012
Grapes100% Chardonnay
MaisonLarmandier-Bernier
Village/terroirlieux-dits Chemin de Plivot and Chemin de Flavigny, Avize (Côtes des Blancs)
DegorgementSeptember 2017 / March 2018
Agedon lees for 6/5 years, 6 months kept in cellars
Dosage2g/L
Sizebottle (75cl)
Number of bottles3500
Price range (euro)100-120
Chef de CavesPierre Larmandier
Other considerentsmalolactic fermentation, biodynamic

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