Buoyed by a long family history of grape-growing and winemaking dating back to 1898, Aurélien Suenen cut short a professional career in the sports world and returned to the family’s Cramant-based Domaine to assist his ailing father in 2009. In doing so, Aurélien has since carved his own path of pre-eminence in the great Côte des Blancs region and is one of the highest rising stars of the artisanal grower-producer movement in the past 15 years.
A blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) specialist, Aurélien cultivates just over 3ha of vines across the Grand Cru villages of Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry in the Côte des Blancs, as well as a small parcel of ungrafted Meunier in the village of Montigny-sur-Vesle at the very edge of the Champagne appellation. Aurélien expounds a powerful argument to protect the health of the individual as much as the vine, as ‘we are part of the terroir’. It’s an issue close to his heart, especially after witnessing his father and other vignerons succumb to the illnesses associated with long-term chemical use in conventionally managed vineyards. And so, in 2012, Aurélien converted his practice to 100% organic (employing some biodynamic principles) with certification arriving in 2019.
Aurélien produces very small quantities of both vintage and non-vintage champagnes that showcase a single village or vineyard. With 50% of the Domaine’s total holdings located in Oiry, Aurélien is currently the only grower-producer vinifying Blanc de Blancs cuvées purely from Oiry vines (OIRY Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut NV), precisely extracting the profound depth of minerality and salinity from the compact Campanian chalk. Similarly crafted to ‘find another expression [of terroir]’, Aurélien’s C+C Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut NV is a blend of nine parcels from Cramant and Chouilly, through which the interplay of each village’s distinct Chardonnay profile delivers a wine of magnified complexity and vinous synergy.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE WINES
SUENEN ‘OIRY’ GRAND CRU EXTRA BRUT NV
With 50% of the Domaine’s total holdings located in the Grand Cru village of Oiry in the Côte des Blancs, Aurélien Suenen is currently the only grower-producer crafting a blanc de blancs derived solely from Oiry vines, precisely extracting the profound depth of minerality and salinity from compact Campanian chalk soil and providing a unique opportunity to taste an exclusive Grand Cru terroir.
Thoughtfully visualised on the beautifully detailed label, Oiry NV is assembled from five separate parcels with both north- (67%) and south-facing exposures (33%), with an average vine age of 44 years.
The current release is based on the 2017 vintage with 50% reserve wine from 2014 – 2016. Following spontaneous fermentation, the base wine spends 9 months aging in enamelled tanks (65%) and 6-year-old Burgundian oak barrels (35%), with no fining, filtration or cold stabilisation. Disgorged in November 2020 after 26 months on lees, the champagne is finished with a dosage of 3 g/L.
Oiry NV is tense and lean at first, offering high tones of green apple, lime, nashi pear and apricot skin over a piercing line of acidity and minerality. The cuvée then carefully unfurls into flavours of fresh cream and yoghurt before finishing long and chalky with a savoury edge of lightly toasted almonds and crushed rock.
Best enjoyed from the Lehmann P. Jamesse Grand Champagne 45 Ultralight handmade glass and paired with freshly shucked oysters and salmon sashimi or simply with Comté cheese.
SUENEN ‘C+C’ GRAND CRU EXTRA BRUT NV
Crafted to ‘find another expression [of terroir]’, Aurélien’s C+C NV is a blend of nine parcels from Cramant and Chouilly, through which the interplay of each village’s distinct Chardonnay profile—creamy Cramant and confident Chouilly—delivers a wine of magnified complexity and vinous synergy.
The average age of vines is 38 years, and the parcels have mostly north-west and western exposures, with deep soils of silty clay overlying Campanian chalk.
Split between Cramant (70%) and Chouilly (30%), the current release is based on the 2017 vintage with 40% coming from reserve wine beginning in 2014 – 2016. Vinification includes ageing on lees for 9 months in enamelled tanks (65%) and 6-year-old Burgundian oak barrels (35%), with further ageing in bottle for 26 months before disgorgement in June 2020. Dosage is set at 4 g/L.
C+C NV opens with a tempting bouquet of ripe red apple and yellow peach intertwined with the warm, alluring aroma of freshly baked croissants. The palate is dynamically orchestrated—energetic and layered—striking confident notes of starchy apple and stone fruit, coupled with cream and tropical undertones of tangerine, pomelo and fleshy rockmelon. The finish is unfaltering, riveted with chalk and minerality lingering long with hazelnut.
Best enjoyed from the Lehmann F. Sommier, Psyché 56 Ultralight machine made glass and paired with Comté cheese, or freshly cooked scampi served with homemade aioli and lemon wedges.
We are thrilled to also introduce a limited amount of Champagne Suenen’s rare, single-vineyard and single-vintage cuvées.
To discover the full range of these Electrifying Grand Cru Wines click here
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