Located in the village of Trépail, in the Montagne de Reims region in Champagne, David Léclapart is known for some of the finest examples of Champagne in the area and a biodynamic approach to wine growing.
So, David... you are not yet a household name, can you introduce yourself, your brand and your wines?
Not known by everyone, it's true, but only known by the great lovers of champagne!
I am 55 years old, I am the grandson and son of a Champagne winegrower. I returned to the family estate in 1996 following the death of my father with a biodynamic approach to vine growing. Four principles guide me in my job: purity, energy, pleasure, ecology.
The champagne David Léclapart exists since 1998, it is certified Demeter since 2001 and at present I present 5 vintages from the terroir of Trépail on the mountain of Reims.
How did you get involved in the world of wine in the first place, and further on, what led you to get involved in winemaking?
I got involved in the world of wine as early as 1989, working only in the vineyard, and then in winemaking as of 1996. The takeover of the family estate led me to vinify on my own without any outside intervention.
What is the particularity of the specific terroir of the Léclapart vineyard plots?
Trépail is a cold and humid terroir with a south-east exposure and a marked presence of flint from the mountains of Reims, which gives my wines great and beautiful acidity, smoky and spicy notes with a great ageing potential and extreme finesse.
In terms of winemaking style, do you seek (like many winemakers) to "express the terroir" or is there something else, perhaps your own personality, that you seek to express through your wines?
I'm not looking for anything, I'm just an intermediary to express the unique taste of the place and biodynamics allows me to do so with the greatest purity and precision.
Reserve wines are a common tradition in Champagne, but you should avoid using them. Can you tell us why?
Because I don't do blending. Only the vintage fascinates me because it is unique because of the diversity of climates. My desire not to dose accentuates the quintessence of the vintage and its expression.
You are known for your advocacy for biodynamic agriculture. How did you get into biodynamics?
By a training in 1994 at the school of agrobiology of Beaujeu (Beaujolais).
Does the biodynamic approach applied from the vineyard have an impact on what happens in your cellars and ultimately on what goes into the glass?
Absolutely, what is done on the soil and on the plant determines the depth, aromatic range, texture, finesse, balance and complexity of the wines.
What has been the reaction of your neighbouring farms to your biodynamic approach? Did they see benefits and follow through, or are there any difficulties related to contamination?
No interest from my neighbours, I remain the only one practicing biodynamics in my village to my great regret.
What do you think of non-Champagne sparkling wine? Is England a real future challenger for the crown of Champagne?
You can drink the best as well as the worst, but as in all other wines, it is not a problem. The terroir of Champagne is unique and will remain so.
Which region interests you for the future of wines in general and sparkling wines in particular?
All regions are interesting for making wine provided that good agricultural methods are applied and biodynamics is for me the only method that can adapt to all climate changes and all types of soil.
Are there producers, or winemakers, that you admire and who have inspired your work?
Henry Jayer and Nicolas Joly.
You have a spectacular portfolio of Champagnes. Tell us, do you have a favourite you've produced - or are most proud of?
All my vintages have reasons to exist, sometimes some have a jazzy, funky, classic, Tibetan, pop, rock and roll, rap... it's when and where you drink them that gives preference in the range.