When arriving for our first visit with Christophe Mignon, it was clear where his passion lies; we immediately left from his winery to head to the vines in Festigny. Christophe farms 30 parcels making up 6.3 hectares of vines spread across the villages of Le Breuil and Festigny in the Vallée de la Marne. He immediately pointed out the soil of green clay and chalky tuffeaux (limestone). “Meunier thrives here,” he explained as we drove south of the Marne River. 26 of his 30 parcels are farmed to pinot meunier, while 3 parcels are farmed to chardonnay, and 1 parcel to pinot noir.
As we went to visit another parcel which was also oriented south/ south-west, we noticed Christophe was one of the few growers who hasn’t begun pruning his vines. He explained that pruning does not usually begin for him until the end of February and the decision on when to begin is guided by the biodynamic calendar. Christophe has been practicing biodynamics for over 20 years and has been farming by strict biodynamic principles for 15 years. He believes his wines display consistent high quality year to year because of his farming methods, harvesting decisions, and low intervention in the cellar. Chrisophe employs one full time employee for each hectare he owns who assists him with the vineyard work. At the domaine, each parcel is treated independenly based on its needs and mircroclimate. All vineyard work is done by hand and is guided by the lunar cycles. The vines are densely planted, yields are kept extremely low, and harvesting does not occur until the grapes reach maximum maturity.
In the cellar, Mignon vinifies and pays homage to each of his 30 parcels individually. Primary fermentation lasts three to four weeks in stainless steel tanks and temperature control is only manipulated by opening the cellar doors. Malolactic fermentation is naturally avoided but may occur. The parcels are blended together in April and the wines are bottled by gravity before being aged 24 to 30 months sur-lattes. The majority of his wines are bottled brut nature, but when dosage is added it is usually around 2 grams per liter. Mignon uses organic sugar cane to create the dosage liquor. Mignon also finds himself disgorging the extra-brut a few months before the brut nature.