When people think about champagne what comes to mind are often the major international brands which source grapes from all over the Champagne region to produce a style that is pleasant and reliable. Recently however more and more champagne drinkers are taking an interest in the many hundreds of small producers who make their champagne from grapes grown in their own vineyards which are in and around one particular village. With 319 villages in Champagne you can imagine the fascinating variety of styles and character that these smaller champagnes provide.
One such is Champagne Didier-Ducos in the village of Saint Martin d’Ablois about 6 kilometres outside Epernay.
Champagne Didier-Ducos started life in the same way as so many other small champagne houses. Returning home after deportation during World War II, Adrien Didier found almost nothing: no work, no house. Starting his own company and building his own house and offices was as much a necessity as anything else. The Ducos part of the name comes from the maiden name of Adrien’s wife, Yvonne.
However it was from these difficult beginnings that today’s champagne brand was eventually created. Adrien started by selling his champagne to friends and family and by dint of hard work the business gradually took off.
Fast forward a couple of generations and we find the company run by Nicolas Didier and his wife Clotilde. It’s still very much a family affair with Nicolas’s father, Christophe, still being involved in the business and the warm family atmosphere is quickly apparent when you visit, especially at harvest time.
The village of St.Martin d’Ablois sits in a little pocket of Champagne called Les Coteaux Sud d’Epernay that lies at the intersection of La Vallée de la Marne and La Côte des Blancs. The advantage of this location is that all three champagne grape varieties grow happily here with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay producing particularly good results.
One of the champagnes produced by Didier-Ducos is in fact a pure Pinot Meunier, still a rarity in Champagne but well worth discovering. The grapes for this cuvée come from 3 plots of vines: one planted by Nicolas’s grandfather, Adrien, one by his father, Christophe and one by Nicolas himself – history in a bottle and still very much a family affair.
The author, Jiles Halling is a long-time resident in Champagne. You can find out more on www.mymaninchampagne.com and discover more about Champagne Didier-Ducos at http://champagnedidierducos.francefinewines.eu/