The Infinite Patience of Paul Fallet


Driving to the Western edge of Champagne, one can take in some of the best landscape and scenery in the region. Today, I went to the far end of the region, the Hamlet of Drachy, to meet Paul Fallet, the 17th generation grower at Fallet-Dart and all of his family. The weather was great, maybe too great, as Paul and the other producers I visited are now starting to worry about the possibility of premature budding and the frost risk that it poses.

We had a great visit, with a vineyard tour in the Clos du Mont, one of the oldest Clos in Champagne, a look at the bottling line and a trip to the barrel room. The Clos only has one wall left; the rest were destroyed in World War One. They were just finishing up the bottling for the year, but Paul explained that the Clos is still in barrel, where it will stay for a full year, to make sure it realizes its full potential.

If I were to distill the style of the Fallet-Dart Champagne into a word, that word would be patient. Even their most basic wine sees four years of sur-lee ageing and 30% reserves from older vintages. They are just about to release their 2012’s at seven years old, and they still have a small amount of 1999 (20 years old now!) for sale. The Clos du Mont that they are selling now is all 2004, and that is a current release!

For me, the 2012 Brut and Extra Brut stood out in our extensive tasting. This vintage feels so much like the 2002s did at seven, with both richness and freshness. I found them both to have nutty, even nougat like concentration, plenty of warm bread aromas, a creamy texture and very nice, bright finishes. They are 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, and the Brut, which is dosed at 8g/l has more dark cherry presence from the Pinot, while the extra brut highlights the snap of the Chardonnay.

The big treat of the tasting was a bottle of 1985 base non-vintage that was disgorged on the spot. This morel and cream Champagne had perfect texture, fantastic volume and a slow pearl of bubbles. It was exceptional, and showed the enormous ageing potential of the wines made here. Don’t worry, they are patient, so you don’t have to be… But if you like their wines, stich an extra couple in your cellar, in a few years you will be blow away!

A toast you!

—Gary Westby

Gary Westby