Etienne Calsac

Champagne / France

At A Glance

Winemaker(s)

Etienne Calsac

Appellation

Champagne (Côte des Blancs)

Varieties

Chardonnay

Farming

Organic practicing

Their Story

“Like the earth, wine is a living product. Plowing the soil and planting cover crops are the techniques that allow the terroir to best express itself. The roots of the vines descend deeply into the earth to search for the elements that give the grapes their unique character.” — Etienne Calsac

Etienne Calsac began in 2010 with less than three hectares of vines spread across three villages, two in the Côte des Blancs (Avize and Grauves), and one in the Grande Vallée de la Marne (Bisseuil). The vines were previously rented to large négociant houses by his family and immediately upon taking over the farming of each plot and the ownership of the land, Etienne began the transition to organic viticulture working the vines by hand, by plow and by horse. Understanding that it would take time to bring the vines back to full health and potential, Etienne did not begin bottling his wines immediately, but instead continued to sell his grapes  and began building his winemaking facility in preparation of production. Since 2010, Etienne has slowly declined the quantity of grapes he sells and has increased production of his own wines. All wines are now produced in his facility with only native yeasts.

Mid Post Image
0.16 hectare Clos des Maladries was planted by Etienne's grandfather and sits behind his grandparents' home in Avize.

With over 95 percent of his parcels planted to chardonnay, Etienne understands that to make wine which showcases a true sense of place, he must fully understand each microclimate the vines are exposed to, as well as, what each parcel of vines presents after fermentation is complete. In order to do this, he has decided to vinify each parcel separately in a combination of both stainless steel tank and in 228L barrels. Etienne does not make any blending decisions until fermentation completes, and thus he is able to taste what the vintage and his individual parcels present.

“My family has owned vines for a long time, but we haven’t made wine since my grandfather retired. Therefore I had to recreate a domaine.” — Etienne Calsac

Etienne’s vines lie in both the Grande Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. In the Grande Vallée de la Marne, he has 1.5 hectares of chardonnay vines in the 1er cru village of Bisseuil.  These vines lie in one south-east facing, chalk dominated and sunny lieu-dit named Les Rocheforts. Etienne usually bottles Les Rocheforts seperately as its own cuvée as he is impressed each year with the quality of the fruit and the unique flavors the wine presents. In the Côte des Blancs, Etienne works in two villages seperated by a single hill. The 1er cru village Grauves provides Etienne with three parcels of vines making up 1.7 hectares. The parcels are exposed north-west to east and are densely planted to vines 30 to 50 years of age. Of his vines in Grauves, most special to Etienne are the vines in lieu-dit Les Martinières as they were planted by his grandfather. Lucky for him, his grandfather lives right across the hill from Grauves in the grand cru village of Avize. Etienne’s grandfather planted 0.16 hectare of Chardonay vines  right behind his home in the 1970s. This monopole backyard vineyard is seperated from other vines in the village by a stone wall enclosure making it one of the very few official “clos” in the Côte des Blancs. Etiene began farming the clos in 2010 and has named it Clos des Maladries. The vines are worked by horse as a tractor can not fit through the small entrance. Clos des Maladries was bottled as its own cuvée in 2013 and was released in 2017.

Current Releases

Interview with Etienne Calsac of Champagne Etienne Calsac

Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised in Champagne. I grew up in Reims where my parents lived and I went very often to see my grandparents in Avize If you could briefly describe your approach in the vineyard what would it be? My approach is “terroir.” Each parcel is vinified separately, all of my soils are worked. The soils are living and are a reflection of the wines. They must be respected. What excites you most about your vineyards? I find it fascinating that the vines are a vector of a product that always accompanies moments of pleasure. Making wine is a true achievement. I often have happy thoughts for my bottles when they leave the domaine, I always wonder who will drink them and under what circumstances, etc. If you could say one thing to the sommeliers who are introducing people to your wines for the first time, what would it be? That this is a terroir driven Champagne, authentically made by a passionate Champenois. Winemaker/Grower Champagne are rare products. What is your favorite type of music? I like many kinds of music. If you could have any superhero power, what would you choose? I would like my cells to regenerate faster during celebrations [drinking parties]! Visit Etienne Calsac Website