Another of Adrien Renoir’s changes at the family domaine since his arrival is to begin to bottle a few single vineyard cuvées. His les Epinettes, from a vineyard in Verzy, made its debut in the 2015 vintage. These are old pinot noir vines, having been planted in 1971 or earlier, with the vins clairs again barrel-fermented and aged in older barrels; the wine was disgorged in September of 2021 and given a finishing dosage of .8 grams per liter. The bouquet is bright and classy, offering up scents of apple, white peach, patissière, lovely minerality, dried flowers and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and very well-balanced, with a superb core of fruit, fine focus and grip, refined mousse and a long, vibrant and classy finish. Most impressive! 2022-2045+.
The boldest wine in this tasting, the 2017 Champagne Grand Cru Verzy Les Epinettes is also entirely Pinot Noir from this single parcel. It jumps from the glass with bold, savory aromas, including marasca cherry, golden orchard fruits, umami with shitake, and wet stone. It offers rich concentration on the palate, with bold structure, and notes of yellow plum, bitter almond, yellow flowers, and a salty finish. This is a powerful and assertive wine to have with richer fare. It has winter weight and will continue to unfold over the next 10-15 years. Disgorged September 2021. Drink 2022-2037.
Adrien Renoir works five hectares in the Grand Cru village of Verzy in the Montagne de Reims. He returned to his family estate in 2014 and took over from his father in 2015. His philosophy is to work with nature to respect the soil and the terroir. Only very small sulfur additions are added at the time of grape pressing, so malolactic fermentation is not blocked. The domaine has been certified organic since 2020, and it is likely that Adrien will begin the certification process for biodynamic practices next year. Grapes are harvested at high maturity levels, and only indigenous yeasts are used. Vinification and aging take place in various barrels, most of which are used (5% new). The wines see very low levels of dosage, typically between zero and three grams per liter. Adrien Renoir is producing expressive and vinous wines with fantastic energy and power.
As I wrote last year, the young Adrien Renoir took over this four-hectare domaine in Verzy a few years ago, launching his eponymous label in 2019. Working exclusively with estate fruit, he abandoned herbicides in 2015 and attained organic certification in 2020. In the cellar, he started out with one or two barrels and, appreciating the results, now vinifies everything in barrel, maturing his reserve wines in oak foudres. Winemaking here is artisanal, with ambient yeast fermentations, lees stirring and no temperature control. The wines are disgorged with jetting but without any added sulfites and dosed with MCR. Every new release from Renoir seems to surpass the last, so I can only encourage readers to start paying attention to one of Champagne's brightest young talents.