Champagne Diebolt-Vallois
In the grand tapestry of Champagne vineyards, the great crus are well celebrated, but prime placement within the village is perhaps the most important yet under-recognised privilege. In this the Diebolt-Vallois family is particularly blessed. The marriage of Jacques Diebolt and Nadia Vallois in 1960 marked the union of  his old family vineyards, largely on the prized, steep, east-south-east facing slopes in the southern part of
Cramant, with significant holdings that her family had cultivated since the 1400s, very close to Cramant in Cuis. Smaller holdings are located in Chouilly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Épernay (in a plot of all three varieties just 20 metres from Chouilly), a little meunier from Marfaux in the Vallée de la Marne, and in the Aube. ‘Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger are all very different, and it is great to have the chance to mix the three big diamonds!’ exclaims their daughter Isabelle Diebolt, who is increasingly taking responsibility for the estate, alongside her brother, Arnaud. Blanc de blancs are the showpiece of the terroirs of the northern Côte des Blancs, and the Diebolt family is masterful in uniting the radiant creaminess of Cramant with the body of Chouilly and the strict minerality of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, illuminated with the pinpoint clarity of Cuis.
  When Pol Roger managing director Laurent d’Harcourt graciously welcomed me to shadow him for a day at the height of vintage 2014, our  rst visit was to the Diebolt family in Cramant, such was the importance of this grower to Pol Roger at the time. ‘Monsieur Diebolt is a king of ageing blanc de blancs!’ d’Harcourt exclaimed. The winery is pristine, and that day I saw some of the cleanest fruit I’ve seen going into any press in Champagne.
The family astutely manages its 14 hectares using grasses in the mid-rows and minimal treatments. Jacques and Nadia’s daughter, Isabelle, spent the whole day of my visit with the pickers, continually checking quality and ensuring they were cutting out any rot.
A similar attentiveness is applied in the winery, where Isabelle and her brother Arnaud assist their father. ‘We control everything from the land through the whole process, pressing and vinifying every parcel ourselves,’ Isabelle told me. ‘Every plot in Cramant is different, and we focus on the terroirs of our vineyards, so we use small tanks, barrels (purchased from Burgundy after four vintages)
and large oak vats to keep every parcel separate.’ Fermentation temperature is carefully controlled at a cool 17.5°C. Wood is reserved for vintage cuvées, with the exception of some reserves for Blanc de Blancs Prestige from Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil- sur-Oger. These are stored in a ‘méthode perpetuelle’ system of every vintage back to vintage 2009 in three 40hL foudres of more than 10 years of age to mature slowly in a deep, cool cellar 14 metres underground, ‘to uphold energy, body and richness’. The purity of the house is elegantly set off by low dosages of around 6–8g/L.
The house currently produces 160,000 bottles, vintage pending, and has increased its vineyard holdings in the hotly contested grand crus of Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur- Oger, hoping to increase production of its top cuvées. So as to facilitate sourcing from Nadia’s paternal estate, the house is now a négociant-manipulant. They no longer supply Pol Roger, instead focusing exclusively on crafting their precise and enduring blanc de blancs, which remain on restricted allocation globally.
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