The dynamic, young Waris-Larmandier family farms prime, old-vine vineyards of Grand Cru chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs, located in the villages of Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Jean-Philippe Waris is supported by his brother Pierre-Louis, an architect, and his sister Inès, a designer and sculptor. Together with their mother, Marie-Hélène Larmandier, they form the “racines de trois” (the three roots) of Waris-Larmandier; each making their own contribution to the artistic vision of this young and dynamic Champagne house. Exceptional farming is the primary focus at Waris-Larmandier. Their vineyards are certified both organic (Ecocert) and biodynamic (Demeter), with their primary goal of producing transparent, terroir-focused wines.
Waris-Larmandier Champagnes are made in a long-aging style characterized by elegance and a superb balance of minerality and silkiness, with secondary fermentation producing pressure at 4.5 bar. This lower pressure, traditional to Avize, gives the wine a very fine and creamy mousse and delicate texture that is neither aggressive, nor overwhelming, yielding gastronomic Champagnes with great complexity and verve.
Waris-Larmandier releases a series of extremely limited lieu-dit bottlings in only the best vintages, when the family feels that each cru has reached its peak terroir expression. The total production of each bottling is minuscule, averaging approximately 1000 bottles each vintage. Only the best barrels of each village are bottled for their lieux-dits; the rest are destined for the multi-vintage Particules Crayeuses cuvée.
Les Regards d’Avize lieu-dit is a tiny, highly-regarded old chardonnay plot (42.79 ares) in Avize that their grandfather, Jean Waris, managed for many years on behalf of a widow named Gilberte Oudart in Avize. Upon her death, having no children, she gifted the parcel to the Waris family in 1995. A small part of the vineyard is pre-phylloxera, and the remainder was replanted from the same low-yielding, old chardonnay clones in 1963. Les Regards d’Avize is serious and complex, with a distinct minerality, cutting structure, incredibly long finish, and surprisingly, a lot of red fruit notes for a Blancs de Blanc. The 2014 is one of the greatest examples of artisan Champagne we have experienced.
Vinification – Grapes are hand-harvested and crushed by hand in a traditional 4000 kg vertical wooden basket press; only free-run juice is used for the primary fermentation. Spontaneous fermentation occurs with native yeasts in stainless steel. The base wine was aged 18 months in used 600L demi-muid Burgundy barrels and Avize Champagne barrels with spontaneous, partial malolactic fermentation before bottling. It was then aged on the lees for over seven years under natural cork (not crown cap), with hand-riddling and hand disgorgement based on the biodynamic calendar. No dosage is added, and the wine is unfiltered.