HISTORY OF XAVIER HOUSE LECONTE, A SEASON WITH SIX PHASES
Champagne Xavier Leconte has its origins in 1870, when Onésime Leconte brought to the family the idea of viticulture. In 1980, although his parents were not yet retired, Xavier Leconte, now the fifth generation, carried on the tradition for passion for viticulture and oenology by starting a career as an independent winegrower. Full of ambition, the young winemaker then set about a phase of soil analysis, increased the acreage of vineyard and added Chardonnay grapes to the existing mix of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Little by little, he started to rent extra vines from his parents.
He then established his first wine-press and winery thus gaining total independence.
In 2000, Xavier rebuilt the winery and wine-press alongside the family cellars. The farm then reached 10.02 hectares of vineyards and continued developing its facilities whilst anticipating the final goal – the creation of fine wines.
Since 2003, with his own experience, Alexis became the guarantor of the house’s style and is involved at all levels. Keeping in mind the values of the House, he preserves the soil and produces real “Terroir” wines. He encourages the vines to plunge their roots deep into the subsoil so as to obtain expressive wines – true reflections of the Leconte vineyard. At the heart of his vines, he can already foresee the future bubbles of his champagnes. Through treating each plot individually, selecting the têtes de cuvées, separating each wine according to its origin… the qualitative approach which was initiated by his ancestors has now reached its crescendo.
THE LAND, A LINK
Champagne Xavier Leconte vineyards are made up of forty small plots spread over the villages of Troissy, Dormans, Mareuil-le-Port, Vandières and Aÿ.
The largest one is called Le Clos de Poiloux which also gives its name to the cuvée Scellés de Terroirs Lieu-dit : « Le Clos de Poiloux ». This is historic vineyard, located near a former Cistercian abbey, a castle, a church and the crypt of Troissy, dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The vineyard called La Croisette is a vineyard of some fifty years old, composed of fifty acres of Pinot Meunier and is located in Troissy. These vines give us Chantal’s (Alex’s grandmother) favourite grape. It has an ideal orientation, which produces, come harvest, an abundance of quickly ripened fruit. The third historic plot of the house is Les Cotéas. This is where some 96 cherry trees used to blossom. Today, the Pinot Meunier grape vine has replaced them. These grapes are mainly destined for the Cuvée Signature du Hameau
THE TERROIR AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
The subsoil of each plot differs in subtle ways; this diversity is an exciting tool for Alexis. Thus, each soil is considered according to its composition and its ability to help develop and influence each grape variety. Alexis’s cuvées Charme d’Anaïs, Prestige and his range of Scellés de Terroirs are now worked on a plot-by-plot basis.
In addition to the soil, the order in which the plots are harvested is essential to the quality of Champagne Xavier Leconte, consequently Alexis and Xavier base their harvesting rota on the maturity of the bunches of grapes. Each plot, cosseted and cared for, follows the regular rhythm of the seasons which has in itself been the beating heart of the Leconte family for six generations now.
PHILOSOPHY OF ALEXIS
Just as his grandfather, Aimé, did, Alexis works with his vineyards and wines in a singular way: he organises his work respecting the phases of the Moon. He applies practices based on the natural cycle of the Earth while working with the qualitative vines, but also in the cellar during the chilling, the racking, and the disgorging.
Alexis also pays great heed to old sayings and proverbs. A keen observer of Mother Nature, he listens to and considers the beliefs of his forebears, with the overarching aspiration to develop wines of great quality according to the house style.
WINES WITH A PURPOSE
At Champagne Xavier Leconte, 25% of the different grape varieties are vinified in barrels and 75% in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats however the wine from the smaller plots are vinified only in oak barrels.
As such, with its forty barrels from Burgundy, the House is able to develop very subtle champagnes, whilst still being complex and harmonious thanks to the cellar barrels, casks, and stainless steel vats.