Raphaël Bérêche began working alongside his father Jean-Pierre at their family domaine, Bérèche et Fils, in 2004. Founded in 1847, Bérèche et Fils has discovered a new breathe of life as Raphaël along with his brother Vincent, the family’s fifth generation have taken the reins. The combination of innovative work in the cellar along with a turn towards natural viticulture has sprung new energy in the domaine’s champagnes. Raphaël and Vincent are no longer using chemical herbicides in the vineyards and the domaine is now using cover crops and biodynamic techniques to encourage soil and vine health. All vineyard work is done by hand and by tractor. With vineyards spread across the Montagne de Reims and into the left bank of the Vallée de la Marne, Raphaël and Vincent have their hands full. They also acquired their first grand cru vineyard in the village of Mailly-Champagne in 2012.
In the cellar, Raphaël has become more focused on detailed aspects of production like bottling under cork for the second fermentation instead of capsule. It is the fine details that are slowly turning one of Champagne’s top growers into an iconic domaine. The brothers’ love for their family’s vineyards along with their passion for terroir focused champagne has promoted their mission “to excel in precision, tradition and respect for life.” Raphaël vinifies each parcel separately. The grapes are picked and then pressed delicately. A slow fermentation occurs on the lees in neutral French oak barrels. Raphaël avoids malolactic fermentation. Each of their wines mature on fine lees and are racked off by gravity. The second fermentation “prise de mousse” occurs under cork sur lattes for 2 to 8 years before disgorgement by hand. Dosage levels very depending on the particular wine.