Generations of Women in Epernay – Champagne Élodie D.

Mark and I drink considerable amounts of sparkling wine, from those made in Italy, Spain and France, to others around the world (when we can find them!). This month, we continue yet bring out the most famous of them all, Champagne. More specifically, we join the French #Winophiles for “Champagne for Celebration” with grower producer Champagne Élodie D.

The story of meeting Champagne Élodie D. goes back to April when I accompanied Mark to Epernay. He presented the preliminary results of his PhD to Moët Hennessey staff at their Robert-Jean de Vogüé Research Center.

Moët Hennessy Centre de Recherche
After dropping him off, I headed to Avenue de Champagne in Epernay for a stroll along this historic street on an extremely cool day.

I walked past all the large houses… Moët et Chandon, Pierrer-Jouet, Pol Roger, Esterlin, Boizel, and kept walking until I saw Élodie D., an unfamiliar Champagne house. That sighting was an instant invitation to enter!

Champagne Elodid D. Bulles & Bonheur Epernay
The gorgeous Eugène Mercier mansion which Élodie purchased in 1988 is the home of her tasting room on Avenue de Champagne in Epernay.

When I did so, Fabrice Spreux, Élodie’s husband, welcomed me and my journey began learning about this small grower producer.

Grower Champagne, or Récoltant manipulant (RM) is a classification for vineyard owners who: planted and own the vines, grow and harvest the grapes, and make, label and sell the champagne. The entire process is controlled by a single (Champagne) house. To be classified RM, the house cannot purchase more than 5% of the grapes that go into their wine.

The Story of Élodie D

Élodie Desbordes-Spreux was born into Champagne and at age 20, took over the family business from her mother, Marie-Christine Desbordes. The family history dates to the end of the 17th century in Ecueil, a small town on the western side of the Montagne de Reims between Reims and Epernay where they grew and sold grapes. Then in 1844, they made and released their first bottles of Champagne. 

Although the business was started by her male relatives, wars took them away and it’s been women running the entire operation for four generations who focused on Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir continues to dominate their 9.14 hectares on 35 different plots, but they grow Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris as well. Their are High Environmental Value L3* and Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne** certified.

Additionally, Élodie studied biodynamics and uses many of the principles in her vineyards. Cover crops and vegetative growth between vine rows are kept trim by the periodic addition of sheep and plowing is done by horse. Although she has farmed this way for some time, she is waiting to receive organic certification (2024). Élodie has made her own personal mark on farming methods and the Champagne she produces! Annual production is 30,000 bottles.

Champagne Elodie D. organic
Élodie tending to her vines with sheep for company.

In addition to putting her mark on the family estate, she purchased the Eugène Mercier (Champagne Mercier) mansion on Epernay’s famous Avenue de Champagne in 1998, turning its various areas into a vacation rental, presentation area, and tasting room with a front patio.

So it’s with pleasure I celebrate Champagne with the stunning Champagne Élodie D. Resurgence 2007, an Extra Brut, Pinot Noir Premier Cru.

Vinfiication – Indigenous yeast fermentation, fermentation and aging in oak barrels (the oak source is their family forest in Ecueil), no fining nor filtering. The wine aged 11 years on lees. The dosage is a very low, just above 3 g/l, making this an Extra-Brut versus Brut Nature. Just under 2,000 bottles produced from grapes grown in the ‘Gillis’ plot planted in 1971.

The different with this Champagne happens during the blending and bottling before second fermentation. A “liqueur de tirage” (sugar and yeast solution) is added to the wine, which is then bottled, topped with crown caps, and placed in a cellar. Élodie does not add sugar at this step. The natural sugars in the wine kick off the second fermentation. For more about this process, see French #Winophiles Explore Champagne From Beginning To Bubbly Finish.

Color, Smell and Taste – It pours a shimmering golden yellow with persistent small fine mousse. Rose and cherry blossom woven around lightly toasted brioche, bay leaf and honeycomb greet your nose. It hums with zesty energy and refined nuances on the medium plus-bodied palate ranging from apple and mandarin orange to citrusy, red currant brioche. The finish is about refreshing stony minerality, a slightly chalky feel, and accents of raspberries. I’m completely smitten.

More Celebration with Champagne from the #Winophiles

For more on High Environmental Value, click here.

For more about Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne, click here.

To read more about women in Champagne:

Champagne Anytime With Briaux-Lenique

Savory Fig Tart with Champagne AR Lenoble 

For the process of making Champagne: French #Winophiles Explore Champagne From Beginning To Bubbly Finish

Thank you for stopping by to read my last French #Winophiles post article of the year.

Happy Holidays!

10 thoughts on “Generations of Women in Epernay – Champagne Élodie D.

  1. gwendolyn alley

    I love Elodie’s story and the generations of women who have been making wine in Champagne! Thanks for sharing her story!

    I stumbled across her attractive wine tasting room when I was in Epernay in 2018 and wrote about it here. I couldn’t find any info about her or her wines at the time in English so thanks for all of the details.

    1. Lynn Post author

      She has (and her hubby) done a fantastic job with her operation. Thanks for your comment! Just read your article, your lucky son and that sandwich!

  2. Allison Wallace

    Élodie sounds like a remarkable woman that is carrying on not only her family’s legacy but the Champagne legacy of strong women leading excellent Houses. This is definitely on our must-try list and would also be high on our list for a visit when we next get back to Champagne!

    1. Lynn Post author

      That’s great you are interested in visiting her. All her champagnes were worthy, but I tell you the older vintage were amazing. Would be fantastic to meet up with you both in Epernay!

  3. robincgc

    What a delightful day! Strolling Epernay, stumbling upon a Champagne House, finding out they are growers and biodynamic growers, oh, and that they have been helmed by women for 4 generations! I’d call that a sweep!
    What a glorious day and a wine to look for!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Luck was on my side that day. Or I could say listening to my gut was the way to go. A sweep indeed, cheers Robin!

  4. Jane

    I, too, love your story of how you wandered into Élodie D’s tasting room & learned her family story. I hope to find a bottle stateside and maybe visit her tasting room in person in the future. In the meantime, Lynn, I want to sign up for your wine tours of France!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Ha, ha! Not sure I’ll be leading any tours, but it’s always great to meet up friends who make the trek to France and plan visits in a region. Élodie shared she can ship to the US. It’d be interesting to do an order up to shipping to see the exact shipping costs. I fear they might be cost prohibitive, but you never know. Thanks for stopping by Jane!


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