Champagne De Sousa “3A” Extra Brut (Avize, Aÿ, Ambonnay, Grand Cru)
“If you could write the perfect recipe for the greatest Champagnes it might read something like this: a tiny grower based in Avize in the exact center of the Grand Crus of the Côte des Blancs, sourcing Chardonnay from estate vineyards on the finest slopes of the Grand Crus of Avize, Oger, Cramant and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from the Grand Crus of Aÿ and Ambonnay. Vines would be very old and painstakingly tended biodynamically by an experienced artisan, fanatical about drawing every detail of character and minerality from every site. Crop levels and dosage would be low, oak would be used generously when the fruit called for it and sparingly when it did not, blending would be performed from a deep pool of reserve wines, and cuvées would mature long on their lees in cold cellars. Welcome to the wonderful world of De Sousa.” – Tyson Stelzer, The Champagne Guide
Over almost 30 years, Erick de Sousa has refined the best of traditional thinking and progressive new methods to revitalize, transform and grow his estate to become one of the finest in the Côte des Blancs. His vineyard holdings consist of 42 plots spanning close to 24 acres, including over six acres of coveted old vines in Avize, Cramant, and Oger.
In his own words, Erick ‘lives in the rhythm of the vines’ and regards his work in the vineyards as the key to the quality of the grapes. To him, biodynamic viticulture is about equipping his old vines to capture minerality, ‘to encourage the vine to draw deeply the trace elements specific to each terroir and provide different characteristics to each cuvée.
The June 2016 selection for The Champagne Society is Champagne De Sousa “3A”. It is a blend of the three ‘A’ Grand Crus. 50% Chardonnay from Avize, 25% Pinot Noir from Aÿ and 25% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay. The juice is blended prior to fermentation to increase harmony. Half of the wine is vinified in old oak barrels. The result is a rich Champagne, balanced between the finesse and fresh tropical fruit of the Chardonnay and the smooth dark berry fruit of Pinot Noir. The very low dosage of this cuvée (extra brut) illustrates the quality of fruit that Erick coaxes from his vines.
Champagne De Sousa has risen to a rightful place among Champagne’s greatest producers under Erick’s visionary guidance. He his now ably assisted by his two daughters, Charlotte and Julie, and son, Valentin, who have all completed degrees at the local wine school and have important roles in the family business, ensuring we’ll have supply to these masterfully grown and crafted wines for many years to come.