Quality of our products
What are the differences compared to other champagnes?
Our champagnes come from the most awarded area of champagne country with excellent quality and pricing. We are one of a small number of winemakers who are not using the malolactic fermentation method. Every champagne in our collection of champagnes is aged between 4 and 6 years. Our family is using farming methods which respect nature. You can taste the difference that all this care and handcrafting makes in our champagnes. RC Lemaire is an artisan champagne like no other.
What makes us different:
• Integrated viticulture (no chemical fertilizing, no pesticides, no acaricides)
• Fertilizing our vineyards with organic algae from Norway
• No malo-lactic fermentation; all natural acidity is preserved
• No fining methods (we keep the natural flavors)
• No forced filtration methods (we let nature do the work)
• All of our champagnes are aged between 4 and 6 years
• Vintage champagnes are aged in oak barrels
• Non vintage champagnes are aged in stainless steel
• Low sugar level (about 6g/l) and we only use cane sugar
• Our Rose is a Rosé de Saignee which is created by maceration with the skins
Are your champagnes produced with or without malo-lactic fermentation?
In the Champagne region, there are two methods for making champagne: Malo and Non-Malo.
The goal of using malo-lactic fermentation is to lose a large part of the natural acidity of the grapes to gain greater stability of the wine and speed up the production process. By adding the lactic bacteria to the wine, it eats the naturally occurring malic acid and lowers acidity, forcing the wine to age prematurely.
The advantages of using malo-lactic fermentation include: less need for a large cellar and shorter storage times which result in reduced financial costs. These champagnes can be sold after 18 to 24 months of aging; Champagne Lemaire is aged 4 to 6 years minimum. Wine with malolactic fermentation (Malo) is a technique used by 90% of the winemakers.
Wine without malo-lactic fermentation (non Malo) is the traditional method for making wine and it is only used by 10% of winemakers. The goal of non Malo wine making is to preserve all elements of the grape and it’s natural acidity. This will result in a great wine for aging. The acidity in champagne is a key factor in the aging of wine and it’s preservation. Non-malolactic fermentation allows the champagne to have the strength to be stored for a minimum of several years in the cellar. This method is generally used on luxury Cuvee champagnes because the process is expensive and difficult.
Making champagnes with the non-malo method has always been the specialty of the Lemaire family. This guarantees the highest quality champagne. The cost of production is higher but the finished product is clearly superior.
What is maturation on lees?
“Maturation on lees” is a continuous process. The greatest Champagne wines can spend several decades maturing in the Champagne cellars. The lees mainly consist of yeasts that have multiplied in the bottle and formed a deposit. By the end of second fermentation, all of the sugars have been consumed and the yeasts gradually die and decompose. This process is known as autolysis, releasing molecules that are slowly transformed as they interact with those in the wine.
A two-fold process
The special “tirage” stopper allows minute quantities of oxygen to enter the bottle and small amounts of carbon dioxide to escape – in other words, the seal is not perfectly airtight. The choice of stopper is critical in determining the speed of the Champagne’s development.
Maturation on lees therefore involves two processes that occur simultaneously:
– Yeast autolysis
– Slow oxidation via the stopper
These processes complement each other especially well in Champagne, due to the delicate structure of the wines themselves. Maturation on lees is essential to encourage the gradual development of the so-called ‘tertiary aromas’ associated with graceful aging
All Champagne wines must spend at least 15 months in the bottle before release, of which 12 months maturation on lees is required for non-vintage cuvees. The minimum for vintage cuvees is three years. Champagne Roger-Constant Lemaire leaves the bottles for at least 55 months in the cellars.
The minimum aging periods required by law for Champagne wines are much longer than for any other sparkling wine. European wine regulations specify a minimum of just 90 days for effervescent wines in general.
And what about the Rosé de Saignée?
Our Rose de Saignee is a champagne that gets its ruby color by using the “bleeding method”. In this method, grapes are macerated for 24-48 hours which allows the skins to have more contact with the juice. This technique results in fabulous champagne with a lovely ruby color, a raspberry perfume and a richer taste. This is a very rare process given how time consuming the bleeding method is. We are one of the rare producers who has a combination of a Rose de Saignée without malo-lactic fermentation, that is half-organic, without blending and without champagne filtration or fining methods.
What about your filtration method?
At RC Lemaire, we do not use this method to clarify our grape juice. We prefer to let nature do the work. Our natural method takes two days instead of 12- 24 hours to clarify the juice. This method guarantees that there will be no aromatic loss to the wine. Just another step in the process of creating an exceptional product.
While standard filtration can protect wine from bacteria and help maintain it’s stability, it also lessens the aroma of the wine. At Roger-Constant Lemaire, we believe in wine with maximum flavor and that means unfiltered wine. Once bottled, the wine is no longer at risk for bacteria so it is able to keep its full flavor. This method produces results in the true taste of the terroir.