Champagne Spotlight | Nicolas Maillart, Écueil

by Jack Chapman

A tiny part of the wine market as a whole (as explored in Charles Lea’s blog here), grower Champagne has a disproportionate share of characterful, remarkable wines, thanks to the passionate vignerons behind the wines. We’re shining a spotlight on our portfolio of grower champagnes this year, each month highlighting a different producer – this month: Nicolas Maillart.

Vigne Nicolas Maillart

When I first joined Lea & Sandeman, not even four years ago, Larmandier Bernier’s magnificent Vieilles Vignes du Levant 2011 was £80 a bottle – I drank a lot of it. I wish I’d drunk more.

Nicolas Maillart harvest box

Now, you’re lucky to pick it up for £120 A lesson in how interest is fundamentally shifting away from more ‘mass produced’, branded Champagne and toward these tiny, ‘Burgundian-style’ growers, but also in picking up cases of these wines just as critical mass begins to build.

So, you might ask if you’ve read on this far, what am I drinking lots of now, and what might be the ‘next big thing’?

Nicolas Maillart, the 10th generation of his family to farm in the Montagne de Reims (Champagne’s spiritual home for Pinot Noir, most famous for the village of Ambonnay), is making staggeringly good Champagne and, I constantly find myself reaching for their 2018 Blanc de Noirs ‘Montchenot’.

Nicolas Maillart cellarThis is a single-vineyard wine, grown on the slopes in his mother’s home village, for which it is named. Only a few thousand bottles are made, Nicolas ripens his grapes often up to 2 weeks longer than the expected norm and he vinifies and matures exclusively in old oak barrels.

This creates a truly vinous Champagne, capable of great age, but also absolutely delicious right now.

This 2018, an outstanding vintage, has recently been awarded 95 points from Vinous – the third best score for any 2018 Champagne released so far.

The Champagne Club Awards’23 [grower of the Year] by Richard Juhlin

2023 Alexander Taillet Chartogne-Taillet Merfy
2022 Pierre Larmandier Larmandier-Bernier Vertus
2021 Anselme Selosse Selosse Avize
2020 Nicolas Maillart Maillart Éceuil

Here, I intend to rectify my previous error and put aside several cases, to drink smugly in years to come, when they are famous and it costs twice as much.

I would encourage anyone and everyone to do the same!


2018 MONTCHENOT Blanc De Noirs Extra Brut 1er Cru Villers Allerand Nicolas Maillart2018 MONTCHENOT Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut 1er Cru Villers Allerand Nicolas Maillart

France, Champagne
Pinot Noir | 12.5%

“The 2018 Extra Brut Montchenot is a pure Pinot Noir from the eponymous hamlet near Villers Allerand, vinified in oak. Cream suffused with lemon freshness meets much mellower Red Delicious apple flesh on the nose. The palate comes with a light-footed ease that seems cloud-like, expansive, yet anchored in salty soil. A slight but pleasant phenolic bitterness accentuates the saltiness even more and beds it on a mid-palate that combines deep chalk and salty, raw sourdough. The mousse is superfine. A lovely rendition of pure Pinot Noir.
Zero dosage. Disgorged: August, 2022.”

Drinking range: 2023 – 2035
95 | Anne Krebiehl MW, Vinous

£61.95 single bottle
£56.95 in a full or mixed case of 6

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