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'The day I saw an old olive tree, fig tree and almond tree, growing together with a grapevine in communion, was a revelation. I then understood that I needed to go one step further in my vineyards.'
Émilien is based in Sermiers in the Montagne de Reims and looks after just over 2ha of vines spread over more than 15 plots across Sermiers and Chamery. His yields (even outside of Champagne) are incredibly low, as he applies an immense amount of biodiversity to his vineyards.
When visiting Émilien's vines you understand that he is promoting a completely new way of farming. His vineyards are fascinating given the immense social pressure from peers that still prevails in the region today. Over the last decade he has literally promoted vineyard life to an extent that wild growing trees have started populating again among his rows of vineyards. This approach to agroforestry is not necessarily new in vinegrowing, but we've not experienced this level of risk taking in a newly established estate to date. The trees are giving shade to entire rows of vineyards, some canes are growing inside the trees. There is a communion that we often heard about, but that already exists in his vines. Émilien explains, that during a trip in Morocco with his assistant Aissam, he has seen an olive tree, almond tree, a fig tree and a grapevine, all advanced in age, growing together in communion. After this encounter he decided to go one step further in his vineyards.
In 2015, Émilien decided to jump into uncharted waters. He started making his own wines with the help of a few fellow winemakers in the area, using the small 2000 kg press from Aurélien Lurquin, and the ‘bigger' 4000 kg one from Thomas Perseval, with whom he also aged his wines for the first year. All his wines are barrel aged and come from single vineyards (except the cuvée ‘Totum' which is the blend of all cuvées).
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