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This small, unusual winery is hidden away in Cumières: there are no signs, only a tiny doorbell sign indicates the winery. Behind the doors, however, lies one of the great treasures of Champagne.
Georges Laval began producing his own champagnes in 1971, and his son Vincent has been running the house since 1996. It has only 2.5 hectares of vineyards, including half a hectare of Pinot Meunier in Chambrecy, which is sold to a Negocé. The other two ha are in Cumières, spread over 7 plots. The average age of the vines is over 30 years.
Laval has practised organic viticulture since 1971, certified by Ecocert. Laval justifies the extra effort of this method with the better result.
Laval's wines are harvested when ripe and are hardly ever chaptalised. They are matured in wooden barrels with indigenous yeasts. The wines are bottled late, usually 10 months after harvest, and are not fined, filtered or cold macerated. The use of sulphur is kept to a minimum.
Laval produces only 10,000 bottles in good years, which are quickly snapped up by a small crowd of connoisseurs. If you are lucky enough to get hold of a bottle, you will be richly rewarded: Laval's philosophy of natural vinification and ageing means that the Champagnes have an intense personality and carry the strong terroir expression of Cumières. Most champagnes are released without dosage, and their ripeness and depth give them a rare harmony and complexity. Minerality and vinosity are in the foreground.
Facts: Cumières, Grande Vallée, R.M., 2.5 ha., 10,000 bottles/year.
Organic certification: FR-BIO-01