The embodiment of the pioneering spirit can be found in Gérard Ruppert and his daughter Bénédicte Leroy. Their magical Champagnes are the result of a special site, farmed organically for the past 30 years, and methods developed through a strong empirical sense and the courage to experiment.
The Ruppert-Leroy farm lies at the south-eastern limit of the appellation, outside the small village of Essoyes, just five kilometres from the border with the Côte d’Or. Literally in the middle of nowhere, it is about as far from Reims and its big houses as a Champagne producer can be.
Their story begins in the 70s with Gérard Ruppert, a back-to-the-lander armed with a doctorate in philosophy. Ruppert began tending organically a half-hectare of vines near Essoyes, at a time when much of Champagne’s land under vine was heavily treated with chemicals and fruit quality had little importance. Gérard sold his grapes to the local cooperative, but approaching retirement, he offered them to his daughter. She jumped at the chance to shepherd the wine from vine to bottle and quit her job in order to devote herself full time to the domaine. Although new to making Champagne, the fruit they worked with was impeccable, thanks to Gérard’s decades of organic viticulture.
Several years ago Bénédicte took the next step, converting the vineyards to biodynamic farming. While mentored by Pierre Overnoy and Aube icon Bertrand Gautherot of Vouette et Sorbée, they have ultimately found their own way, experimenting relentlessly to find what is best for their wine. This includes everything from length of élevage and minimizing sulphur use to radical ideas of their own.