Champagne Francis Orban L’Orbane Brut 2014
Champagne Francis Orban L’Orbane Brut 2014 100% pinot meunier and a full 8 years on the lees – this is as powerful a Champagne we’ve ever featured!
Flavor Profile: Gala apples,Anjou pears, hazelnut, lemon meringue, orange cream, lemon candies, coriander seed, lemongrass, apricots, white cherries, sourdough bread, burnt sugar
Time on Lees: 96 months
Dosage: 3 grams per liter
Why We Love It...
Pinot meunier really just has Champagne, doesn’t it? Pinot noir has Burgundy, Sonoma Coast, New Zealand and more, and chardonnay can be found most everywhere. But meunier? It really only thrives here, and we absolutely love it for that. This is the rare tete de cuvee based entirely on the grape – and it is simply delicious. Powerful, compelling, layered, and almost never ending. This is a very special, incredibly limited bottling that you simply can’t get anywhere else in the country!
The Orban story truly begins back in 1929 when Léopold Orban stopped selling his grapes to larger houses in Epernay and started producing Champagnes of his own. This made him one of the very first grower-producers in his village – and the beginnings of a family run house that continues today. Now, four generations later, Francis Orban has taken over the family business with 18 acres of vineyards in the Marne, on the sandy, clay-rich soils around the villages of Leuvrigny and Sainte-Gemme.
This is the land where pinot meunier reigns supreme, and this structured and hardy grape accounts for the vast majority of the Orban plantings. Some of these vines are incredibly old, with this cuvee stemming from a single acre of estate vineyard – and a series of hand-selected 100 year old vines – all from Francis’ hometown of Leuvrigny. The vines grow on an east-facing slope, with the sandy clay soils that pinot meunier adores. The juice is all fermented with native yeasts in previously used barrels, and only the first, gente pressing of the grapes is used here. Francis keeps the wine from beginning malolactic fermentation – as the 8 years in bottle provides all the weight and texture needed for this singular wine. Only 125 total cases make this about as unique a Champagne as you’ll find anywhere, and we’re thrilled to have snagged 8 cases for ourselves!
A light dosage of 3 g/liter finishes the wine, and without being hyperbolic, I think this might be one of the best wines we’ve featured in weeks (and that’s saying something)! The aromas come on strong and imposing, flexing toasty and rich sensations of ripe orchard fruits like Gala apples and baked d’Anjou pears, followed by toasted hazelnut skins, lemon meringue, and orange cream. Yet once the mousse hits your lips, things change quite drastically. The attack is linear and focused initially, with a pronounced minerality followed by lemon candies, coriander seed, lemongrass, apricots, and white cherries. As the mousse settles, expressive notes of sourdough bread develop, as well as a chalky, stony freshness on the finish, that ends with a final kiss of burnt sugar. It is powerful, and long, and utterly captivating. There’s not much more to say, and even less to go around. Grab a few if you can!
Appellation: Vallée de la Marne
Varietal: Pinot Meunier
Winemaker: Francis Orban
Oak: 100% Barrel Fermented
Pair it with: Porcini mushroom risotto
About the Producer
Francis Orban is a grower producer that tends some 18 acres of south-facing vines in and around the villages of Leuvrigny and Sainte-Gemme. Soils are rich in sand and clay—different terroir than the chalky soils found around the Montagne de Reims or in the Côte de Blancs—a mix that suits Pinot Meunier vines well, and explains why the Marne Valley is the centerpoint of Meunier production. Some 90% of family vineyards are planted to Pinot Meunier, with the rest dedicated to Chardonnay. Vines are on average between 30 and 40 years old. Vineyards are cared for sustainably, and grapes harvested by hand. Grapes are pressed gently and fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Francis adds some 50% of reserve wines to his non-vintage Champagnes, for wines of impressive depth, character and length.
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