Do not be fooled by the Gallic elegance of Cécile Grongnet: Her statuesque good looks behold a winemaker driven by passion, wisdom and perhaps a hint of sass. It is these qualities which manifest in her wines; a perfect balance of elegance, finesse and brilliance.
Cécile is the fifth generation of Grongnet proud to run the family house, after her great-great-grandfather Edmond founded it in 1885. Her predecessor, father Guy, is still hanging around to pass on the wealth of knowledge of the previous four generations. Make no mistake though: Cécile is front and centre of operations at Grongnet, and woe betide those who try to wrest any aspect of the winemaking from her talented grasp. She has a logical approach to viticulture that ultimately respects the environment whilst producing some very fine Champagne that deserves wider recognition.
Grongnet is based in Étoges with 18 hectares of local vineyards planted with 60% Chardonnay and 20% each of the Pinots. Their prime location in the Côte des Blancs affords the wines of Grongnet with a powerful fruit punch. Luckily for the rest of us, Cécile’s hand has tamed the rich wines and crafted a beautiful expression of their terroir. Considering a house that’s been giving voice to the Côte des Blancs terroir since the late 19th century, it really is not surprising to know that they were founding members of the Club Trésors de Champagne (Special Club).
Do your ears prick up at the mention of ‘ultra brut’? This is a house that does not compromise on fruit quality and has extremely low dosage, if any, as a result. Prestige cuvées enjoy fermentation in large oak foudres (just like Selosse, Jacquesson and Krug), succeeded by a lengthy wait on the lees before disgorgement. Very rarely does malolactic fermentation occur, giving the wines some of that elusive quality of brilliance.
Romping around a winery floor, playing hide-and-seek amongst the foudres… Not a conventional childhood (WHS may also disapprove), but Cécile is proud to have experienced hers that way, and to be ingrained with the passion for the work of her forefathers. As long as Grongnet continues to produce their extraordinary wine, it will suffice to say that we are glad for that winery playground too!