The Cazé family have been growing grapes on the western side of the Vallée de la Marne for ten generations. Maison Cazé was created in 1953 when Roger Cazé became the first in his family to estate bottle. Since the 2013 vintage, Fabien Cazé has farmed 2.66 hectares of his family’s vines, which he selected for his own small and ambitious project. These vineyards are made up of a diverse and complex array of six different parcels in the villages of Châtillon-sur-Marne and Vandières on the right bank of the Marne River. He proudly continues the family tradition of meticulous farming and producing precise and elegant wines that transmit the character of these long-nurtured terroirs.
Through the seasons, Fabien passionately follows development in the vineyard. He “scratches” or hoes the soils preferring to minimally disrupt the soil structure and plant life. In the spirit of supporting life in and around the vineyards, no herbicides or pesticides are used, and the winery has been certified organic as of the 2018 vintage. Pruning and de-leafing are rigorous endeavors, done manually, and speak to the hand crafted nature of Fabien’s commitment.
The quest for precision and balance is carried into the cold, underground cellar, where Fabien prefers a more hands off approach. During the warmer months when fruit flies can inhabit the cellar, he receives a little help from his friends — a family of bats that have taken up residence and earn their keep! Not one to rush into anything, Fabien takes his time to learn and grow, and he affords the wines the same opportunity by embracing cold, slow native yeast fermentations (in 228-350L barrels) and long periods of aging on the fine lees, ranging from 24-72 months depending on the vintage and cuvée. No fining or filtration is done, and malolactic fermentations are not forced, and with the cave's low temperature, they are rarely completed. Dosage decisions are made during blind tasting, including the option to not dose at all. Any addition of sugar is done judiciously with the goal of enhancing and never masking the true nature of the wine.
With his recent induction (after only his second release) into the exclusive Terre et Vins, a collective of progressive and highly regarded winegrowers in Champagne such as Pascal Agrapart and Raphael Bérêche, it is clear that Fabien’s wines are turning heads. The Cazé line up starts with his “Naturellement” cuvée which is a pure and bracing rendition of 100% Pinot Meunier. As with many top vignerons in the region, he also produces a range of tiny parcellaire cuvées highlighting specific grape varieties and terroirs. In general, these are aged for a longer period en tirage before release.
The term “rising star” gets casually tossed around a little too often in today’s wine world. That said, the Cazé-Thibault Champagnes have already caught the attention of many Champagne lovers and professionals, and are sure to develop a loyal following in the years to come.