Alexandre Penet’s career so far hasn’t been that of a typical champagne maker, but that doesn’t bother Alexandre too much because he doesn’t want to make typical champagnes. He appears to have succeeded, judging from the comments that have appeared in the press such as “An artist at work.” “One of our best discoveries in La Montagne de Reims for 25 years”
Alexandre grew up in the village of Verzy, a Grand Cru village in the part of Champagne known as the La Montagne de Reims, where he learned about champagne from his grandfather and father, but after qualifying as an engineer Alexandre left Champagne to work overseas in Brazil and in Africa for a number of years in industries that have nothing to do with wine-making. It was during this time he also gained an MBA from the University of Chicago Business School.
By the time he returned to Verzy to manage the 6 hectare family estate Alexandre had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve: he would continue to produce champagnes without malolactic fermentation as his family had long since been doing, and in addition he would use little or no dosage (the additional sugar usually added at the very end of the champagne-making process) so as to allow the true taste of the family’s vineyards in Verzy and the neighbouring village of Verzenay (also a Grand Cru ) to come shining through.
The absence of malolactic fermentation coupled with low dosage is a tricky combination to manage because both can result in wines with high acidity, but thanks to meticulous wine making and to the patience to let the bottles age for an unusually long time in the cellars, Alexandre has succeeded in his ambition of setting a new standard in luxury champagne. On tasting Alexandre’s champagnes for the first time one Master of Wine commented that it was one of the most exceptional champagne tasting experiences of his long career.
The core range of La Maison Penet bears the brand name Penet-Chardonnet. These champagnes are destined for real champagne connoisseurs who are looking for a unique style. They are available in limited quantities only and are almost hand-crafted: each bottle is individually numbered and also carries a QR code which links back to the web site. In fact Alexandre was the first wine maker anywhere in the world to use QR codes on the bottles.
There is also sister brand called Alexandre Penet made in the same mould, available in larger quantities and which provides the perfect introduction to low dosage champagnes for those less familiar with this vibrant, fresh style.
Apart from offering the chance to taste some superb wines, a visit to La Maison Penet, (by appointment) and to the family home is doubly delightful if you are lucky enough to meet Alexandre’s lovely wife Martine and their two daughters Corinne and Candice.
For more information go to http://champagnelamaisonpenet.francefinewines.eu/
Author: Jiles Halling is an Englishman and long-time resident in Champagne. You can find out more on www.mymaninchampagne.com