The why, the what and the how of...


Pierre and Sophie Larmandier have never been ones to follow the rule book when making champagne. Their biodynamic, minimal intervention approach results in the purest expression of Côte des Blancs terroir in every bottle.

Pierre and Sophie have been managing their 18 hectares of premier and grand cru vineyards around the commune of Vertus in the Côte des Blancs for 30 years and have been organic since 1999. They adopt biodynamic principles in the vineyard, strive for minimal intervention in the cellar and their very low dosage champagnes (all Blanc de Blancs i.e. 100% Chardonnay apart from the Rose? de Saigne?e and Vertus Rouge) are characterised by absolute purity and precision. Pierre Larmandier believes that the underlying terroir is expressed best with very minimal levels of dosage, or—in the case of Terre de Vertus—no dosage at all. Consequently, all the Larmandier-Bernier wines never receive more than five grams per liter of sugar. This puts Larmandier-Bernier’s Brut champagnes in the category of Extra Brut.

In the cellar, Pierre Larmandier is every bit the purist and uses only indigenous yeasts for alcoholic fermentations, producing the most natural and terroir-specific wine possible. Each cru is vinified separately, using a variety of stainless steel tanks; large, old, wood foudres; enamel-lined tanks; or smaller Burgundian barrels, depending on each cru and each vintage. Many of the wines also undergo malolactic fermentation. Occasionally bâtonnage is practiced as well, but Pierre Larmandier is quick to point out that it is really the vintage that will decide how certain crus will be raised in the cellar.

Blending is generally done in the spring following harvest, and it is at this time that the Larmandiers decide whether or not their two single vineyard bottlings (Terre de Vertus and Vieilles Vignes de Cramant) will be produced. The final blends are assembled and the wines bottled in May, and undergo secondary fermentation in the deep, cold cellars at the winery. The wines are aged for several years prior to being riddled by hand and disgorged; and are then kept in the cellar for a minimum of six months before being commercially released.

Larmandier-Bernier is now widely recognised as a leading grower in Champagne, with their deft elaboration of each wine’s distinct link to the respective vineyard. Pierre and Sophie take champagne-making to an entirely different level.

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