Domaine Georges Laval
Vincent Laval once heard a story where Jacques Cousteau found pesticides in Arctic Ice—a place with obviously no crops. It has left its mark on the Laval family. The implications of environmental abuse are a particularly potent conversation when distilled down to how we grow what we eat and consume.
The domain has farmed organically (certified by Ecocert) since inception in 1971 when Georges (Vincent's father) started bottling his own wines. Vincent admits, “farming organically is more difficult than farming conventionally…but it can be done, of course, and afterwards you have a better conscience.” Over the years the Lavals have traded parcels of land whenever possible in order to assemble larger blocks of vines. This helps the family more effectively mobilize against pollution from less environmentally conscious neighbors. Organic compost is used, and cover crops are planted in all of the plots, with regular tilling to oxygenate the soil and encourage the roots to descend deeper.
All of Laval’s vineyards are located in the tiny village of Cumières on the right bank of the Marne River. Vincent has multiple parcels that comprise a paltry 2.5 hectares. The Brut Nature signifies “non dosage” (no sugar added) and is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier. All of his wines are aged in oak, which helps buffer the razor sharp edges of “non dosage” wines.
The key to Laval’s brilliance in the cellar is uncommon refinement. Zero dosage wines are taut and exciting, dry and mineral—but so often almost painfully so. Laval keeps that racy spine intact while mellowing the edges with oak and very low amounts of sulfur. It is a balancing act of intensity and finesse—generosity and restraint that makes his wines complete. Les Marchands is needless to say a huge, huge fan…